Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) is the ueber “indie filmmaker”… he has writen, produced and directed almost every single one of his films. Control Freak? Possibly… Artist? Probably.
He frequently works with the same people, always has strangely magnetic characters invade his images and has been awarded or nominated for every award that exists in the film world (although maybe due to his youngness, he seems to always be surpassed by other “masters”).
This is where his latest film comes in.
Production for – The Master – started last year and since then (June), very little has been known about the film other than it being about “an intellectual that starts a religion in the 1950’s”. Slowly people started associating the possible story with scientology (denied by the director) and after the announcement of Joaquin Phoenix as the lead in the film (Phillip Seymour Hoffman also stars), with all the craziness surrounding his previous work (Phoenix did a “Chris Farley/Christian Bale” 2 years ago and went nuts on screen/off screen with I’m Still Here), some started being afraid the movie was “out there”.
Nothing better than a difficult movie to see to make one’s the juices flow.
But how do you advertise for it?
Modern film campaigns, in the US, have been largely targeting a young audience and so, “brainy”, difficult films, always tend to be sorely represented in the marketing/media world (most are certainly backwashed into the market after or little before the Oscars, so they get attached to the coat tails of that billion viewer event).
Such an example was easily demonstrated by PTA’s previous film There Will Be Blood – a 25 million dollar production (with a severely lacking media/screening campaign), that was for the most part, one of the best films of the year (2007/2008), released for oscar classification on the last week of December, relatively badly received in the B.O. just before the Oscars’ live event (the film was steadily in the 2 digit ranks) and then pushed everywhere after the middle of February and its interest during the Oscars (8 nominations). This gave the movie a solid B.O. (box office) for a cerebral, period film – 76 million dollars, but it would have gone relatively unnoticed wasn’t it for the awards season.
PTA, this time around, doesn’t want this to happen.
Trailers are the center piece of almost any “modern” campaign and, with the quality of some of their editing, almost every film that is advertised through a trailer “leaked” on facebook/youtube/twitter, is “going to be awesome!!!”. But that doesn’t happen.
Trailers adulterate, distort and flourish most films that they advertise and… most of the time… falsely advertise a film that no one (or very few) actually want to see.
The Master was presented last year (in poster form) at Cannes as “The Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project”. That (like for most oscar campaign films) was the first tease.
Then came the second poster. And the third.
So then, PTA to get the public’s interest peeked, came out with not 1 but 2 unconventional teasers (“Was there a fight?” and “Hopelessly Inquisitive”) in the space of a month, this, before he had ever shown the film to any critic around the world (just a limited footage screening in Cannes, this year).
At this point, the Weinstein Company (the production company had previously passed on producing the film) was intrigued and bought the international rights for the film.
Not soon later, a theatrical trailer for it came out (… thank you… Weinstein Company… for “keeping things common”), and several “secret screenings” have been held.
With the trailer out, my thinking was that it was just another “teaser campaign” with the 2 previously released clips being just a “drop in the water” of the “what could have been” Transmedia/New media campaign.
But it wasn’t.
Yesterday, another one came out – “I lost my ship!”
4 have come out in total. Together they make about 6 minutes of footage.
Rumor is, these videos are “cuts”, “extra footage” or simply “raw footage” that didn’t make it to the film.
It isn’t unknown to come out with dropped footage before a film screens in theaters, but this is usually thrown together into the theatrical, teaser trailers.
No one wants to show pieces of their films for free… but PTA doesn’t want you to go see a film you don’t want to see. He’s giving you exactly what you want. A real look at what The Master is and not what an editing (subverting) team, can make it look like through “masterful” editing/sound manipulating techniques.
But he’s doing it differently. He’s not showing you the film.
He’s showing pieces that didn’t enter the puzzle.
He’s showing you content that isn’t in the final product.
“Was there a fight?”
She wrote me a letter
“I lost my ship!”
Do you want to see the film? Maybe… at least you can see from the videos how the pacing, style and acting will be like… so… you choose.
Not a tough choice. It might not be your type of film but, at least, you can definitely decide if it is worth it or not.
Nevertheless… If more of an example of how off quilt the campaign for the film is…
Check the film’s official page – http://www.themasterfilm.com/
It just shows us what the film looks like through video/youtube form. Period.
Do you want to see the official poster?
A trend flows through the videos, poster, website.
And not the usual “bullshit” of Augmented advertising that comes out every single week. With manipulating coloring schemes, face/body positioning and loads of unwanted visual information.
And then there’s Twitter.
If there ever was a film that is being helped by its Twitter comments (reviews) it might just be The Master.
It’s getting rave reviews from the surprise showcases in the beginning of the month (and the August 3rd Venice 1st Screening), having more critics, fans, etc, wanting to see it as fast as possible.
So much so that the Weinstein Company has decided to come out with the film on limited release on September 14th (almost a full month before its original release date).
Yes… I know what you’re thinking. “This isn’t Transmedia!”, “He’s just using the same techniques everyone does”… “That’s already stuff from the film, not developed for different media”.
True on all counts.
But you must remember… change takes time… and these small videos show exactly that.
Something is changing.
It might not be a “true” Transmedia campaign but, it certainly is different.
And interesting to watch.
Don’t believe me?
The Official Trailer has, to date, 444,605 views.
Was there a fight – 780,900 views.
Hopelessly Inquisitive – 31,000 views.
She Wrote me a Letter – 111,489 views.
I lost my ship – 306 (still under youtube’s calculation period).
The 4 clips would have eventually come out. Probably on DVD/Bluray and then posted online.
Then… why not benefit from them?
They have together around 1 million views.
That might not be a transmedia campaign or product, but its getting there.
It’s changing the norm.
Let’s hope more directors, producers, studios, think of ways they can innovate in how they present their films and then, maybe, for his next film, Paul Thomas Anderson might go all out and present us with a complete transmedia film.