Director Kevin Smith started a bit of a wildfire last night when his new horror movie, Red State, was set to be auctioned off at the Sundance Film Festival.
Instead of auctioning off the rights to the room full of buyers, Smith declared that he would be buying his own movie for $20, and self-distributing the movie himself. The decision and the way it played out was not looked upon with happy faces according to multiple reports, who say Smith wasted their time and made a mockery of what they do for a living.
Whether that’s the case or not, the reasoning behind Smith’s decision seems to be more of a statement. Instead of his movie — which went through many difficulties in getting made and looked like it might never even happen for a long while — being acquired by a studio and said studio spending millions on marketing it, Smith wanted to prove that he could do things his way without all the outlandish costs and still find success.
To compensate for the lack of studio backing and marketing expenses, Smith has unveiled a movie tour — a tour for his fans to show off Red State before it’s officially released on October 19, 2011.
You can read Kevin Smith’s “The Red Statement” and find out where this tour will travel by heading over to the other side now.
THE RED STATEMENT
The Harvey Boys have witnessed first hand the vagaries of “studio math” – the byzantine numbers game that sees an uneducated media and public celebrating “huge” openings at the box office while ignoring the obscene marketing costs attached to reach those figures. We believe it’s a pyrrhic victory to simply “buy” an opening weekend by pouring millions of dollars into TV spots, billboards and print ads. As storytellers, why not instead use our creative abilities that resulted in a film in the first place to also creatively SELL that film directly to our public?
We believe the state of film marketing has become ridiculously expensive and exclusionary to the average filmmaker longing simply to tell their story. When the costs of marketing and releasing a movie are four times that film’s budget, it’s apparent the traditional distribution mechanism is woefully out of touch with not only the current global economy, but also the age of social media.
Therefore, The Harvey Boys will not spend a dime on old world media buys (such as TV/Print/Outdoor) as we self-distribute our film, Red State, in an admittedly unconventional, yet extremely cost effective, word of mouth/viral campaign.
Knowledge is power, and we believe in empowering the filmmaker – so the Harvey Boys vow to make the financials of Red State open and transparent from which anybody hoping to follow suit can learn. We will do what no studio has dared: open up our books for the world to see so anyone interested in pursuing a similar independent release strategy has a better understanding of the BUSINESS of Red State.
And if we’re successful – or even merely effective – at producing a film distribution apparatus that can stand apart from the cost-prohibitive studio model currently viewed as the only way to get a movie into a theater? It is our intent to use the groundwork we lay with Red State to aid other filmmakers in releasing THEIR films, via our newly launched SModcast Pictures.
Don’t hate the studio; BECOME the studio. Anybody can make a movie; what we aim to prove is anyone can release a movie as well
The Harvey Boys
Jon Gordon & Kevin Smith
If you’d like to find out when and where the tour will run, you can head to this official website for all information needed.
The craziest thing about all of this was the madness that ensued. Social networking outlets like Twitter exploded with bloggers, critics, and press discussing and bashing Smith and his methods, as if just as bitter as the studios who showed up to bid on Red State. I personally can see how these studios were angry that Smith wasted their time, but for critics and other press to take such offense was simply absurd. What Smith chooses to do or how he chooses to do it is his call to make, and certain people take offense to that or go way too far out of their own way to pounce on it for some reason.
It’s gotten to the point where some film critics seem more than ready to hate the movies of Kevin Smith without even seeing them first, which would obviously destroy the integrity of their opinion. Let’s hope this is never the case; despite what anyone’s personal feelings toward a filmmaker might be, that should never sway their opinion of a film one way or another. Objectivity is an incredibly valuable asset.
So has Kevin Smith gone mad, or is he actually a secret super-genius? To date, Smith’s movies have never done well at the box office. After all the studio backing and money put into marketing them, they always seem to have mediocre runs at the box office and then go on to do much better in the home entertainment markets. Knowing this, why even bother with the marketing or the press? Why not just do it your way with full knowledge that your fan base is there and will give you around the same support you’d get with studio backing?
Not to mention the insane amount of attention he gets out of all of this. Beginning with the whole Southwest airlines debacle, anything Smith does or says meets criticism and questions and all sorts of other stuff. The coverage he’s been getting hasn’t always been pleasant, but it HAS been coverage. All press is good press, right? This could all just be part of a master plan.
I’m starting to think Mr. Smith is more aware of what he’s doing than he’s given credit for, but only time will tell.
I for one look forward to seeing Red State — drama and controversy aside, we’ve seen the first trailer and it’s a genre we’re not used to seeing from Smith, so how could any movie fan’s curiosity not be fully piqued?