How to flirt with a stranger in a movie theater

Betty and Jared (Meredith Adelaide and Bryce Flint-Somerville) flirt in a bar in a scene from Did You Kiss Anyone?

Did You Kiss Anyone?” is premiering at the Bagdad Theater exactly one week before Valentine’s Day–a day many people desperately need a date.  The easiest way to start a conversation with anyone at the screening is to ask: “Did you work on the movie?”  Over 100 Portlanders worked on this movie, so your chances are good.  And if neither of you did, you have that in common, so start making out.

If you need more inspiration to hit on a stranger, just imagine you’re IN a movie….

Romantic Comedy Style

As you slide past in the aisle, clumsily spill your beer in his/her lap.  Apologize profusely and start dabbing napkins in inappropriate places (if a guy, on his crotch region; if a girl, on her boob region). Suddenly become mortified by your additional blunder. One week later, walk past the boutique shop they own and spill a frappachino on him/her.  Talk about finding your one true soulmate, then discover he/she is engaged.  Help plan their wedding.  Just before the ceremony, spill champagne on him/her, profess your love, then dash home.  Wait while he/she runs to your brownstone apartment in the rain where finally you kiss.

Quirky Sundance Movie Style

You’re sitting alone in the theater while everyone else is shallowly enjoying their unexamined lives, distracted by their iPhones.  Then you notice a manic pixie dream girl sulking at the end of the aisle, also alone.  She’s reading a used paperback copy of Cat’s Cradle, so you slowly raise your vintage copy of Breakfast of Champions.  You nod to each other as the lights dim for “Did You Kiss  Anyone?”  After the movie, you’re stuck in the aisle behind shallow people tweeting their reactions and she gets away.  But she left her book on the seat! There’s a name written on the inside cover.  You write your name, cryptic geographic coordinates, and a date/time under her name then turn it into the Lost and Found. You sulk around while an Elliot Smith song plays.  You do a lot of staring and have difficulty communicating with your overbearing mother/grandfather.  On a gloomy day, you sit waiting on a park bench in an ironically outdated suit as a Menomena song plays.  The girl from the theater arrives in a funeral dress:  “Thanks for returning my book.”  You notice scars on her wrists.  You do not kiss, you simply sit on the bench next to each other staring ahead as a Decemberists song plays.

Spy Movie Style

He’s the most handsome man in the theater–and also alone.  This works out well for you because you’re there to assassinate him.  Somehow you manage to lose him in the pizza line.  You take a seat in the balcony, scanning the crowd for him.  “Looking for someone?”  He’s in the row behind you.  You feel a gun pressed against the back of your skull.  “I’m here to kill you,” he says.  “But you’re too beautiful.”  “I’m here to kill you,” you say, cocking the gun already pointed at his heart.  With guns pointed at each other, you watch the movie and fall in love.  Over drinks at the Back Stage Bar, you hatch a plot to fake your deaths so you can live together on a tropical island.  Operation Romeo and Juliet is a crazy plan… but maybe just crazy enough to work.

French Movie Style

You see her dragging her cello case down the aisle.  Who brings a cello case to a movie?  Only the most brooding and troubled woman in the world, whom you must meet.  You immediately begin an affair that includes full frontal nudity, lots of smoking, but sadly, no berets.  There is a complicated political metaphor that defines your relationship and which makes it impossible for you to stay together.  She’s heartbroken and you find her on the Hawthorne bridge with her cello case.  You are sure she is going to jump to her death.  Instead, she plays a song on her cello that halts all traffic and people from all walks of life, all political views, are momentarily joined together by music.  She kisses you on the forehead, then jumps to her death.  Fin.

Meta Experimental Style

You ask, “Did you work on the movie?”  They answer, no.  You say, “I promise I won’t spill my beer on you or try to assassinate you.”  They uncomfortably avoid eye contact and move one seat away.  You explain that you were actually referring to a blog post the director wrote, giving tips on how to flirt with strangers at his screening.  They ask, “Are you flirting with me?”  You say, “Your exact response was predicted in his blog post. And even what I’m saying now is verbatim from the blog post.”  “It’s like a movie within a blog post within a movie theater.” You point to the screen, where a Kiss Off message is being shown with those exact words. You begin making out with your future Valentine’s date until the movie starts and you both realize you forgot to silence your cell phones.

I sincerely believe any of these techniques have a 100% chance of working, unless you do something to blow it. See you at the Bagdad: Tuesday February 7th, 7pm!

Fear of Flier-ing

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Promoting a movie is glamorous. You may find yourself walking around with a stapler, attaching poorly printed posters to a telephone pole in a semi-legal fashion.

I need a bigger stapler and thicker paper.

These posters went up around Tender Loving Empire, the Belmont Stumptown, and Laurelhurst Theater. Not pictured: Cinemagic. More going up next week with better supplies.

February 7th at 7pm at the Bagdad! Please!

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Did You Cast Anyone? – my crowdfunding webseries

I’m getting ready to show my second feature Did You Kiss Anyone? at the Bagdad Theater on Feb. 7th. I tried to raise money for it over the summer of 2009 by doing a crowdfunding webseries called Did You Cast Anyone. I love Wainy Days and Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I wanted it to be like those, only less funny and without famous celebrities.

We only took a few hours to film each episode. It shows sometimes but that’s also what I like about them. The episode with Bryce was entirely improvised a few minutes after we met up to shoot it. Every single actor did an amazing job with improv. Working with funny actors who can improv is the best.
I’d love to say the crowdfunding webseries was a massive success. But this was 2009 and Kickstarter was still in private beta and you had to explain to people what crowdfunding even meant. We raised a little bit of money, all of it from people I know, and it ended up being about half of what the movie cost, which is about one-tenth of the minimum budget it should have cost. I understand crowdfunding is the future and it’s revolutionary and all that crap you read on blogs, but it also sucks. It should be called crowdbegging. That’s what it feels like.

I’m rambling. Here are all the episodes of Did You Cast Anyone? If you’re in Portland, come to the Bagdad on Feb 7th and see these actors in completely different roles. I’m also going to be showing a Lost Episode (not an episode of Lost, but an episode that was never released for a variety of reasons).

Please take the next half hour of your life and enjoy….

Did You Cast Anyone?






My movie streaming to your living room

That is, if your living room has a connected TV. I recently got a TV that just got updated with a YouTube app. Since I uploaded my entire first feature to YouTube for free, this is possible…

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Or you can watch it on your phone, iPad, or computer here:

Film Festival Marketing on a Nanobudget

When you’ve got a nanobudget movie in a film festival, the marketing costs can quickly approach the same amount as the film’s budget. But that’s only if you do things like print out postcards people will immediately throw away and make t-shirts or hats that will sit in a dusty corner of a closet. There are a lot of tools out there if you’re willing to get creative, and you can be smart about marketing your movie at a festival without spending a lot of money. Here are some things I did for my screening at the Salem Film Festival–it all ended up costing under $40.

Newspaper: One of the first things I did when I found out we got into the festival was send an email press release to @shawnlevy, the film critic for The Oregonian, which is distributed in Salem. I was excited to see the movie title mentioned in the A&E section. (That’s the second time this year a movie I directed was mentioned in A&E.)

Blog and YouTube video: I don’t know much about Salem, but I know they have a giant golden statue. And I recently made a silly video involving talking statues. So I decided to make a ridiculous video for Salem that included all the info for my screening. I posted it to my blog, along with some photoshopped images of the statue in scenes from my movie.

QR Code poster: I drove down to the Salem Film Festival on the Saturday before my screening for one of the festival parties and to put up a couple of homemade printed posters. Printed one-sheets look really nice but they cost a lot of money and I wonder if anyone actually looks at them. I decided to make a poster that wasn’t a typical one-sheet and let people watch an exclusive clip if they scanned a QR code. I put this up by the theater exit (also where people would line up for popcorn), as well as on the door a pizza place/bar across the street where some moviegoers go to hang out. I used a bit.ly link for the QR code so I could see how many times it was scanned–not many. Which either means people don’t scan QR codes, or people don’t look at one-sheets, or both.

Google Adwords: I wanted people who might attend the film festival to be aware of my movie so I bought keywords on Google. So anytime someone in the Salem/Portland area googled “salem film festival” they would see the name of my movie. I got about 10,000 impressions in two weeks and I was usually in the top ad spot. The AdWords campaign cost $18.92.

Facebook ads: I also created some Facebook ads and targeted people who lived within 10 miles of Salem and liked the Salem Film Festival or a bunch of other movies, actors, and directors. I also set up a few ads targeted at anyone in Salem with a bachelor’s degree, in case they weren’t the type of people who went around liking things on Facebook.

The main campaign was seen by 6,817 individuals (not impressions), they each saw an ad about 12 times, and 664 of those people saw the ad with the name of a friend who liked our Facebook page or RSVPed to our screening event (this is called Social Reach). This campaign cost $10.59.

I did another ad on the day of the screening that was seen by 6,781 individuals, they each saw an ad about 8 times, and 284 of them saw it with Social Reach. This campaign cost $9.92. The total for both Facebook campaigns was $20.51. Here’s what the ads looked like…

Show up: Actors and crew from the movie drove down for the Q&A. If I were attending a screening at a film festival, I’d want to see someone from the movie there. We had actors, cinematographer, location manager, and me (writer/director). Only the actors and I were up front for the Q&A but everyone else was ready to answer questions too.

Brian (cinematographer) and Amanda (lead actor)

And now for the payoff…

We did a technical check before the screening. This was the first time I’d ever seen Did You Kiss Anyone? projected in a movie theater. It looked great. The screen size is hard to tell from this photo, but you can see the tiny green exit sign to the right for reference.

I took this photo while addressing the audience briefly prior to the movie. We had a good sized crowd, even more impressive when you considered it was a Wednesday night. I like to think the $40 I spent helped convince a few of these people to attend.

I was relieved when almost everyone stayed afterward for the Q&A. One woman leaving stopped to say she couldn’t stay for Q&A but that she loved the movie. That’s exactly the first thing you want to hear after showing your movie to an audience.

Bob, Audrey, me, Brian, Amanda after the Q&A

After the Q&A we went out for drinks to celebrate. Four pitchers of beer and a huge order of tots cost more than my entire marketing budget for the festival. Money well spent.

Drew and Bob (actors) (also, the eye of Tamar from Suck My Box.)

 

Dani and Brian (location manager & cinematographer) (They look surly because it was dark and I used a flash.)

 

Audrey and Sara (actor and wife)

 

Sara and me

 

Audrey and Uncle Jerry

Go check out DidYouKissAnyone.com for more info on the movie. And if you’ve done something cool to market your nanobudget movie at a film festival, let me know so I can steal your ideas for the next one.

The Golden Pioneer wants you to see Did You Kiss Anyone?

My second movie “Did You Kiss Anyone?” is playing at the Salem Film Festival!

October 19th at 7pm! (Humpday!)
Salem Cinema (1127 Broadway NE)
Did You Kiss Anyone? film page at the Salem Film Festival
Watch the trailer or visit DidYouKissAnyone.com.

If you’re coming, let me know on the Facebook Event page. There will be a fun Q&A after the screening with myself and some of the actors.

I’m honored that Salem’s most visible resident played a part in my movie…

Okay, clearly those are photoshopped, but here’s a real video…

Here’s the teaser trailer for Did You Kiss Anyone?

And if you want to see the crowdfunding webseries we used to help fund the movie, check out Did You Cast Anyone?

My director's commentary using YouTube annotations

My first feature “The Waiting List” is on YouTube and I wanted to do a director’s commentary, which is something people who like DVDs say is missing from streaming movies. “The Waiting List” has some interesting little behind-the-scenes stories and facts that I wanted to share. I knew I could use YouTube annotations to create “pop-up video” moments, minus the obnoxious pop-up sound. I know some people might find it annoying, but the button to turn on/off annotations is pretty easy to find on the playback toolbar. I also added a message at the beginning that explains it.

So I decided to spend a few evenings adding and editing annotations. This is not an especially quick process. Sometimes you have to strategically place the annotation or lengthen the time it’s up because more words will take longer to read. And I had to think of things to say/write that would (hopefully) be interesting. The nice thing is that I can go back and add or edit them at any time.

I updated TheWaitingListMovie.com so it’s designed to make it easy to read the annotations. And by designed, I mean poorly ripped off Devour. But watching it on YouTube works just as well. Add it to your “Watch Later” list if you can’t watch it now!

Here are some screenshots of the annotations so you can see what they look like and what they say…

And of course, you can start watching all of the annotations here…