Putty Hill and the Disasterous Review

February 18, 2010
posted by sheric

Putty hillI just want to make a quick comment here on the recent review this film had in The Hollywood Reporter. I haven’t seen this film, only people in attendance at the world premiere in Berlin this week have seen it, and probably a few sales agents and would be distributors. I hope they saw it before The Hollywood Reporter ripped it to shreds. As such, I cannot comment on the validity of the review and the critic. Let’s suffice it to say the critic has seen a film or two in his career and that is why people take such notice of these THR reviews and why they seem so coveted.

I do a fair amount of publicity when working with a film. It isn’t the only thing I do, but it is one of the elements of my film marketing plans. I have stated in a previous post that I tend to shy away from going after publications like THR, Variety, EW and even indieWire. I do not have personal contacts with those publications for one and usually they do not cover small, low budget films with no stars. There is another reason I don’t recommend it too.

I like outreach to online publications, blogs, online radio, forums etc  for coverage. These resources are usually more familiar with lower budget work. They can forgive some editing, lighting, music choice mistakes. They know their audience is more forgiving of it too. They aren’t expecting Cameron level work. Sometimes, they are just excited to champion a film  they believe their audience would enjoy and those are the places where you will find your greatest reviews. Plus, it is the place where your audience will read about it and whose opinions they will value far more than the critic of the THR. They may be more influenced to watch it or buy it when one of these online places gives it a thumbs up.

Clearly, the publicist for this film has some connection to THR and included them in her press invitation to view the film… and he came. I would venture a guess that she is more of a traditional publicist obsessed with big publications, traditional publications, and is not targeting the true audience for this film. This approach is good when you only want to attract distributors. Distributors read THR, not the consumer audience. The risk with any review is there is no guarantee the critic will like it. This one REALLY didn’t. Should she only have courted media relevant to the film’s audience? Was this a mistake? Has this review sunk the likelihood of the film getting distribution? I think the filmmakers would have been better off targeting to their audience. This is a devastating review to get over. I think it will affect their distribution chances, certainly for a good deal.

Lesson: know the film you have, know the audience for it, and go after publications relevant to them. If they champion you, other publicity chances will follow and when you have a dedicated audience, distributors will follow you too.

PS: update on this film. A distribution partner was found in Cinema Guild. There are plans for a small theatrical run in the fall.

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