Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Devin the Dude

If you don't know Devin the Dude, maybe you need to take a closer listen to Dre's "Chronic 2000". Devin was the cat on the first track who sang "I just want to fuuuck you". He has since had a huge hip hop career releasing a stack of solo albums as well as albums with his Huston crew Tha Coughee Brothas. Devin has done tracks with Snoop, Lil Wayne, Nas, Xzibit, Scarface, UGK, and tons of other dope MCs. Why does all this matter? Because Devin is making his big screen debut in Self Helpless.

Devin plays "The Dude", the Drake's trusted weed dealer. When The Drake comes to him to get a little stress relief, he ends up getting a rambling, nonsensical speech, and less weed than he was hoping for. Devin is hilarious in the scene. He is clearly a natural performer. His facial expressions and delivery are some of my favorite comedy in the movie.

How, you ask, did we get a major hip hop star to appear in our low-budget, low-brow comedy? A couple of years ago I met Devin (my favorite MC of all time, by the way) when I had the honor of DJing for him at a show in Burlington. The show went well and he was a cool cat to hang out with. Last winter he came back to town for another show. I caught up with him backstage after the show. I was just hoping he might be willing to let us use some of his music in the movie. We were blown away when Devin offered to make a cameo appearance in the movie. After a few months of phone calls back and forth, we set out for DC in a Prius packed with camera gear. We braved a late season snow storm and caught up with Devin on the day that he performed at the Go Go Awards. We shot the scene in a couple of hours, and it turned out to be fantastic.

Much love to Devin. He is a true talent, and a cool, down to earth guy. He definitely has a big future in acting. We were lucky to be able to work with him before his acting career takes off. For more on Devin the Dude check out

What are you going to do with the movie when it's done?

The traditional model of independent film making is quickly going the way of the dodo bird. It used to be a nice, easy 3 step process: 1 - make movie, 2 - go to film festival, 3 - sell movie to major studio. I am obviously overstating the simplicity here, but there was at least an established pattern.

With the explosion of accessible movie making technology, way more people are making movies. This has lead to a glut of films on the market. This technological boom has also resulted in the creation of a few different movie distribution models such as: VOD (video on demand), self-distribution, and direct to DVD distribution.

What we are pursuing with Self Helpless is a hybrid marketing strategy. Here is a general outline of our different angles on promoting the movie in the hopes of someone buying it:

1) Web Assault - We will be plastering advertisements all across Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, and Twitter. This has become standard practice these days. Our advantage is the large network of friends that the four of us have established. We have approximately 1,200 friends already lined up on Facebook alone. If everyone passes the movie on to 5 of their friends...

2) Promotional Copies - We will be sending promo copies of the movie to anyone and everyone we know that is even tangentially involved in the movie business. You have a friend who cleans the floors at a talent agency in wisconsin, what is his email address?

3) The Premiere - The world premiere hasn't been scheduled yet, and details are top secret. Suffice it to say that it will be off the proverbial meat rack. Picture 100 drunk Self Helpless fans, and 15 bloggers and reporters packed into a theater. Good times will abound.

4) Film Festivals - There are, literally, thousands of film festivals in the US evey year. We will be submitting Self Helpless to a select few festivals that seem to be cool enough to understand the genius behind farting in people's milk.

5) Screenings - We hope to organize premieres in a few different East coast cities to start with. If we decide to try to independently distribute DVDs then we will probably arrange a full tour. Lock your doors and hide your daughters, America!!

These are the major avenues that we are looing at for advertising and promotion. Our main focus is to be adaptabe and work hard. The movie is truly excellent and unique. All we have to do is hustle as hard as we can to get it out to the public.

Why does Self Helpless matter?

Basically, the movie industry is crazy right now. Every fool and his mom is trying to sell an independent film, and at the same time studios are trying to cut their costs to the bone. One might think this spells doom for Self Helpless, but fear not.

Self Helpless is something of a miracle. Big Hollywood pictures can have budgts in the $100 million. "Independent" films (which often have a studio behind them) have budgets as low as $5-10 million. Low budget films tend to have a budget under $1 million. Movies with a budget under $20,000 are considered "no budget" films. Self Helpless was made for around $10,000. The fact that we managed to make a feature length movie that was shot in 2 countries and features an army of extras and a cameo appearance from a major hip hop star is nothing short of astounding.

This positions us uniquely in the film market. We have a finished product that is hilarious and entertaining. Studios don't need to worry about taking a risk on an unproven script, they can simply watch the audience go crazy at a screening. If there were ever a time to push a high quality, low budget film that makes people laugh, this is it. Cross your fingers!