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Adventures in Indie Film Marketing: Miranda July Talks About Not Selling "The Future"

Photo of Dana Harris By Dana Harris | Indiewire May 26, 2011 at 9:33AM

Welcome to Adventures in Indie Film Marketing, in which we take a look at the campaigns that manage to leapfrog our cynicism and capture our attention.
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Adventures in Indie Film Marketing: Miranda July Talks About Not Selling "The Future"
The Miranda July oracle from her film's website, thefuturethefuture.com. It produces randomized, Twitter-sized advice. This one reads: "I see TEARS this week. Tears of joy, or sad tears, or the other tear - like rip. If you are a virgin, you might tear your hymen."

Welcome to Adventures in Indie Film Marketing, in which we take a look at the campaigns that manage to leapfrog our cynicism and capture our attention.

What's for sale: "The Future," directed by and starring Miranda July.

Release date: July 29 through Roadside Attractions.

The strategy: Create audience interest in "The Future" -- without selling "The Future." Says July: "With marketing, I cringe at things that seem like they're selling."

The product: Website thefuturethefuture.com, which July describes as "a normal [film promotion] site, except for the oracle." Users click on the "oracle," a colorful animated wheel that random-generates Twitter-sized bits of deeply quirky advice. (Sample: "A pustule, an ache, a scab. If any of these three jolly visitors comes your way, grin. Time to get positive about mortality.") You can also Tweet or Facebook the predictions, or have them sent to you automatically twice a week.

Campaign launch: The site made its very soft launch May 20 when July posted the link on her Facebook page.

Whose idea was this? July came to the oracle idea by thinking of ways to avoid tweeting. "Around December it occurred to me that I should join Twitter and have some followers by the time the move comes out," she said. "I discovered that I didn't like Twitter -- if it was a good idea, I kept thinking I should make it a scene or short story. But I get that it could be useful, and I'm used to having to do the work to invite people. So I tried to figure out: What could be that length that I would be willing to write?"

What did you want to communicate? "There's no direct link to the movie, but I feel like you can't half-ass this. I don't want to approach this in a less interesting way, which is what marketing can do. I'd rather write a new thing and if you like this, you might like the movie. I want it to seem like a work within itself. If it's successful as its own piece, it will do its job, marketing-wise."

Who created the product? "I've written maybe 200 oracles, but I have to write more. My goal is to have about 500. I knew web people who could do it [site credit goes to Amaranth Ravva, Billie Pate and Aaron Beckum], got a budget and [Roadside Attractions] approved it, which is great because a lot of those [Oracle predictions] are super sexual."

How much did it cost? The site budget was $5,000.

How long did it take to create? "They put it together in like two weeks."

Why this works: "The goal was to be simple and have it spread. A powerful tool is people's self interest. I'll read anything that looks remotely like a horoscope. I figured if I can occupy that space, that would be good."

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit