This makes me crazy.

So the other day Cory and I noticed a new billboard up right at the point of the mountain advertising a film. What caught my attention was that the billboard was pretty much just black, with the catch phrase, "The first R rated mormon film ever," and then the name of the film, "Falling" underneath that. So let me just point out two things that were standing out in my mind at the time I saw this.

First of all, I couldn't help but realize the billboard was up right in the middle of the transition from Utah Valley to SL Valley. Not coming back the other way, of course, but leaving Utah Valley. The assumption that Utah Valley is equivalent to Mormon Valley (or something like that) drives me nuts. Yes, there are a lot of members down here. Yes, BYU is also down here. But no, that does not make us perfect, just as leaving the valley does not mean that we're leaving the Church and want to watch R rated films about the church. That whole thought process may seem a stretch to some people, but that was honestly on my mind.

Second thing: honestly, who advertises a film like that? I mean, it seems to me that it'll just infuriate the audience who does watch LDS cinema, because it's almost a mockery of the genre, if that makes sense, and they probably don't watch many R rated films anyway, and then the audience who doesn't normally watch LDS films will just think it's another LDS film, and also not watch it. Or at least that's my hope. Seems like a pretty tacky way to advertise.

So anyway, I've been thinking about this for a couple days now, and just this morning Cory turned on X96 for their movie reviews, and they actually reviewed Falling. Turns out it's by Richard Dutcher, the same guy who did God's Army, among some other works. So not really that surprising, I guess, considering the somewhat controversial nature of some of his other works, but still frustrating to me that he would advertise in such a way. This is the kicker, though--while they were interviewing him, Dutcher himself said that it didn't really matter that the main character was LDS--he could've been Catholic or any other denomination, and it would've had the same effect--the religion in the story doesn't really matter. So why the heck did he advertise the film as "the first R rated Mormon film"? It just seems like such a cheap blow to try and bring the audiences in. The film is only premiering in the Gateway theater, in Utah (which is also in SL Valley, if you were wondering...), so he had to use what Utahns know to advertise. It just disgusts me. Here's the link, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790660/, if anyone wants to read more about it (though there isn't currently a lot of info up about it).


Mark said...


It’s an oxy-moron. Don’t you get it?

With a very limited marketing budget, you’ve got to create controversy. Think about who the target market is and isn’t.

Richard Dutcher knows that the faithful tow-the-line Mormons are not going to go to it (as I assume most of you here on the blog are faithful LDS and not going to see it).

It’s to make the “iron rod-ers” bleed out of their eyes with utter distain and get them to talk trash about it. Because that inevitable trash talking is going to make its way to the inactive, the disenfranchised, the disfellowshipped, the excomunicated, the grey sheep, and the not-fully-assimilated-yet-active “Utah” Mormons - that is the target market and they’re going to laugh their — off and go see the movie.

What great controversy to create. All the radio spots and tv spots OF EQUAL VALUE would never do what this billboard is doing. I don’t know how much a billboard costs, but I would love to know what it’s R.O.I. will be.

It’s an oxy-moron, its a joke, and its on you. His strategy is working brilliantly. All of you who hate the billboard are not going to see it anyway. Dutcher has lost nothing on you and everything thing to gain off of you and your disdain for him, his film and his billboard. Your only successful avenue here is silence, and that’s the funniest marketing ploy of all because you won’t shut up. Every comment, every blog and conversation breaking either way on this topic is just one more free advertisement for “falling.”

He has played us all.

We know nothing about marketing. Unless we’re seeing ads during the Superbowl, we think it’s not marketed correctly, when in reality, he’s done it.

Today Dutcher became the epitome of independent film - struggling to pull a film together and with what little funds he had left over, putting people in the seats. Dutcher just got my $7.00

Sundance would only be so lucky…

Stu said...

Sorry Sis... but mark (whoever he is... I know a few different Marks) got it right. His billboard did exactly what it was supposed to do. It got you emotional enough, either positive or negatively, to talk about his film. Your blog post is 100% free extra-advertising (I'm pretty sure the term is viral advertising).

I haven't heard anything about this movie, and I doubt I'll see it. Not because I don't go see R-rated movies, but just because I am fairly picky about the movies I do go see. Money is tight, and the movie better be worth that seven bucks.

I don't think the director is making any personal attacks on Mormons though. I think what he is stating is fairly straight-forward. I don't know what constitutes a "Mormon Movie". If that just means that it is one of the films that center around a Mormon character (or Mormon personality), then it might be true that this is the first. Slthough, I know I have watched HBO's series Big Love. While not a movie (so it doesn't get a rating), it does frequently earn the TV-M rating.

Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that while Dutcher used to be LDS, he no longer is... I suppose that could also influence (and lack of care about who is film is truly marketed to).

Oh well :) Keep up the good fight, right?

Jessie said...

Hang on, hang on. I do get it. Don't feel sorry. I don't disagree with Mark. Apparently in my ramblings I failed to communicate my point. It was not about the effectiveness of the billboard, but only that it felt cheap, for lack of a better word. He's getting the free advertising off of the frustration provided by the billboard, and then turning around and blatantly saying (to a probably less "iron rod-er" crowd, just guessing about X96's fan base) that it isn't about the Mormonism. Even though his only other real form of advertising makes it seem like it's all about that. He's not telling the majority of people that are frustrated by the billboard, because they don't make up X96's fan base, in general.

I hope I'm not now offending Radio From Hell listeners, I listen to it regularly (if I'm up that early), but I'd guess that X96 gets a lot more of the "grey sheep" crowd that Mark brings up than most of Utah's other stations, and thus makes it an ideal spot to advertise that the movie isn't about Mormonism.

Brandon said...

X96 totally plays the "anti-establishment," and therefore the "anti-LDS" card a lot. It feels more like an act than anything, most of the time, and it doesn't really bother me. Radio From Hell is still the best radio show in Utah.

Regarding Dutcher... making an R-rated "Mormon" movie (whatever that means) is one thing, making the rating the focal point of your advertising is another.