Monday, December 6, 2010

Title Bout

In preparing to write this blog every week, I work pretty much the same way I did when I started writing the film: I get an idea of what it is I want to say. What story I want to tell. And then I come up with some groovy title that gets my juices flowing and I use it as a springboard to plunge into the writing of the thing ....

Well I have to tell you, I've had one hell of a time coming up with a title for this week's blog post.

And that is almost always a sign that I'm avoiding telling the story ...

See, in last week's entry, I talked about how we are now all about launching into this next, uber important phase of filmmaking: the "showing it" part. And how we and our partners are going to talk about getting the film seen the way it's meant to be seen : In cinemas. By people. (however I use the plural in both cases advisedly).

Now everyone knows that homegrown (albeit French) cinema is alive and thriving in an enviable way here in la belle province. But those very same celebrated and SUCCESSFUL films rarely travel beyond Quebec's borders to the rest of Canada, or beyond. And unfortunately everyone also knows how notoriously difficult it is to get English Canadian films to be seen by English Canadians in English Canada - let alone anywhere else.

But because our little project is something of a cross-cultural cocktail : an English-language film coming out of French-speaking Québec, starring a high-profile Québécoise actress, an exciting young newcomer from Vancouver and featuring internationally acclaimed singer Dolly Parton AND her music, with the added advantage of being backed by well-respected distributors in both Toronto and Montreal, you might think we have managed to combine the best of a few worlds... That we just might have what it takes to erase borders and apathy and actually "cross over".

I know I promised last week I would tell you how it all went down in our marketing meeting with our respective distributors but I guess you've probably figured out that this is the part of the story I'm having trouble telling. So maybe the blog titles I've been agonizing over will help give you some idea of why. Here's what I've got so far:

"Managing Expectations"

"Why Even Bother?"

"The Two Solitudes - Cinema Style"

"You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try"
- Dolly Parton

Okay, you know what, I'm going with that last one. Because that's the tone I ultimately want to set for the tale that's about to unfold over the coming months... the tale of some plucky Filmmakers Without Borders who triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds and apathy to actually get their film seen in cinemas, by people!

We all know it's a multi-media jungle out there. And they say if you don't have an American star headlining your little indie Canadian film, you don't have a hope in hell of drawing an audience. Oh, but wait, just because you HAVE an American star headlining your film, don't think you have a hope in hell either.

And if your film doesn't have a major festival/award as a springboard into the movie-going consciousness, or it doesn't have some high-concept hook to hang it on, or a Hollywood look, or an ethnic angle - you may as well just start making space in your DVD rack right now, Bunky, because there's pretty much no way your film's going to break through.

Although, plenty of films that have some or all of the above going for them didn't break through either.

Okay, but what if it has a good story? Strong performances? Tasty sights and sounds?

And a killer, head-turning title?

Yeah, it all starts with the title.