Indie films always struggle to get onto screens without the big distribution deals and marketing budgets of American blockbusters, but a new Australian on-demand cinema platform, tugg.com.au, now allows filmmakers to book any cinema, any time as long as you have enough people interested in watching that film at that session.
The innovative producing team behind The Heckler are embracing this new distribution model by launching an initial round of on-demand cinema screenings and hoping that positive word-of-mouth fuels more and more screenings – in effect growing their own theatrical release.
Writer/Producer Steve Mitchell says, “A traditional cinema release requires a massive amount of advertising to succeed. Films like ours can’t afford that and so we rely solely on word-of-mouth. And that takes time to build. By staging one-off event screenings at various locations over a longer period, we’re hoping to build momentum without spending a fortune on marketing.”
Anyone can request to ‘host’ one of Tugg’s listed films at their local cinema, but the screening only goes ahead if a minimum number of tickets are sold in advance. This way, nobody loses any money, plus the promoter (host) gets 5% of the box office.
“The main difference with this model is that patrons must book their tickets in advance to guarantee the screening goes ahead, which involves changing people’s behaviour from simply turning-up at the cinema and seeing what’s on. We’re also adding value to our screenings by combining them with either a Q&A or a live stand-up comedy intro (which was a great success during the Comedy Festival).”
Shot on location in Melbourne, The Heckler is about a stand-up comedian who has his body hijacked by the spirit of a jealous heckler and must find a way to reclaim it before the imposter ruins his career. The body-swap comedy received rave reviews from sold out Comedy Festival screenings and won an award at the LA Comedy Festival.
It marks the feature film debuts of local talents Kate Jenkinson (Offspring), Emily Taheny (Mad as Hell) and Simon Mallory (Comedy Inc) and also stars CJ Fortuna (Kinne), Scott Harrison (Charlie & Boots) and Dave Lawson (Utopia) along with a host of other comedy performers including Tony Martin and Jeff Green.
The Heckler season launches with a live stand-up comedy intro at The Sun Theatre in Yarraville on Monday September 7th (tickets must be pre-booked via the website).
7 September at Sun Theatre Yarraville
9 September at Cinema Nova – Carlton
13 September at Regent Cinemas Ballarat
16 September at Village Cinemas – Jam Factory – South Yarra
20 September at Palace Barracks – Brisbane
6 October at Dendy Opera Quays – Sydney
(Perth and other locations announced soon)
Bookings & details: www.thehecklermovie.com