Should Movie Poster Tag Lines Be Transformed

"Earth.  It Was Fun While It Lasted."  Armegeddon's tag line sticks with me, because I instinctively substitute "Earth" for "Indie Film" when I read it. In these days of RampantFilmBizChange,  everything is ripe for reconsideration.  MCN hipped me to AdWeek's collection of "66 Great Movie Taglines".  Sure the list gets a smile regularly from me, but I walk away deadened and jaded.  The sell is obvious.  The dominant clever factor feels like a child beauty pagents' related icky. "Look at me!  Look at me!  Give me a trophy!  Now!!!".  Get me outta there.

Can't we do better?  Or at least do different? What once was called "Indie" has never been proud enough of it's differences.  Isn't now the time -- this the age of absolutely no acquisition market that makes much sense for the majority of work -- to stop the sell and instead embrace the collaboration?  Or the participation.  Or something else entirely different.

A good number of "Indies" show up on Adweek's list.  For me it is clear articulation of the past.  We have moved on.  That is not our culture anymore.  Okay, it's not the only culture anymore.  Yet it feels to me, the creative community is still living in the past.  We have to move forward.  Move further.  And soon.

What thoughts do you have on how we could innovate this process?  How can we bring taglines inside the narrative?  How do we make them about the experience, about the process, about something more than sounding clever and hip?

Take A Lesson From The Master

It seems to be pretty much the gospel now that Slumdog could never have rewritten the rules as it has without Searchlight's help.  Everyone marvels at their marketing campaigns, and how well they work.  People say they've trademarked color, to the point if you use a bold singular shade in your campaign, folks feel you've copped a page from Ms. Utley.

Titles are always a difficult thing in the positioning of a film.  Posters however make titles look easy.  When our films are handled by one of the top distributors we often see over 100 different mock-ups.  And it's rare that by the time a choice is made, I frequently feel we made a wrong decision, or rather never found the answer.  One of the real challenges is finding a poster that not only serves the campaign in terms of positioning the film and enhancing desire to see it, but also serves the test of time and rests comfortably on the wall years later.
All the tests though are compounded when you have little or no funds like most indie filmmakers.  I recently posted on TheNextGoodIdea about CrowdSpring where you offer a prize and hold a contest among designers to see who will make the best poster (or logo or whatever).  It certainly is a good way to get a lot of interesting ideas.  Searchlight, the undisputed master, takes up one notch with their campaign for 500 DAYS OF SUMMER.  They are using the multiple images to increase pre-release buzz by holding a poll regarding four different posters, apparently pulling the audience into the process, and cementing allegiance to some degree in the process.
The contest for a final image campaign seems like something all indie filmmakers should put in their playbook.  When would be the right time to run it?  Seems to me that if your film has played one of the major film festivals and garnered some good attention, right before the next big festival would be the ideal time.   Hey, isn't that exactly what Searchlight is doing?  500DOS played Sundance and will soon be screened at SxSW and now the SL poster poll is go.  Which basically means that if you are going to have 4 images to select you need to start to get them in at least a month prior to first fest screening.

Printing: Posters & Postcards

As mentioned a few days back, our Film Festival Strategy brainstorm continues...

Jon Reiss offers this up:

A very necessary expense in your publicity campaign are postcards and posters. These can be expensive but fortunately there are a number of on-line printers that are relatively inexpensive (eg 4000-5000 postcards for $100). One hidden cost when it comes to printing is shipping so I do recommend using a printer near you - so before you buy - make sure you include shipping in your cost estimate. I actually send an assistant or intern to pick up my printing from "Next Day Flyers" since the shipping almost costs as much as the printing. Sometimes your local printer will even match an on-line printers prices - or come close enough to make it worth your while. But they won't cut their prices unless you have a comparison price.

Regarding Postcards - they are cheap enough online that you could print them for each festival or theatrical screening even if you only print 500 at a time. The old way of doing this was to order a ton and then use stickers for your specific screening time. Unless you have some slave labor around - buying new postcards for $50 is going to be cheaper than paying someone to print and apply stickers to each post card - you have better things to do with your time.

Three important notes about posters:

1. Most on-line printers will not print one sheet size posters.

2. Printing standard film size posters - 27"x41" - is very expensive (for film festivals you only need one or two which will cost about $50 each - but for a theatrical release you will need more than that). The reason that these posters are so expensive to print is that they are too large for standard offset printing (the cheapest kind of bulk printing). However nearly all theaters (all the ones that I dealt with) will accept posters that are 24.5"x37.5" which is the largest size that you can have printed offset. This will save you thousands. (Although the best price I found was $1200 for 2000 posters - a pretty good price).

3. You can get a lot of mileage from 11x17 posters. Most storefronts won't put up a standard or near standard one sheet when you are promoting in a town. But they will put up a 11x17 poster. And these are much cheaper. You can get a 1000 for around $300. They are also good for wildposting/wheatpasting as they fit on most electrical boxes. (18x24s are also a good size for this) But be careful with wildposting - you can be fined thousands of dollars for illegal posting if there is anything on the poster that will track back to you or the theater!)

Printers:

Next Day Flyers based in Compton California

Got Print based in Burbank California

jon@jonreiss.com

Movies In Another Universe

Okay, sure they will be the same films, but looking at these posters for Hollywood films of 20 & 30 years ago, all redone by Polish artists for then Soviet-controlled Poland, makes me want to see all of them! They look so much better this way. 

How great would it be if our posters could look this good! Wellmedicated has put together a great list of 50 Incredible Film Posters From Poland.
Can you name the film by the poster?  The Hollywood Studios would say it's a problem if you can't, but to me that's the joy.