Movie Marketing Madness: The Dying Gaul

Jeffery, a film executive played by Campbell Scott, offers to buy a screenplay by Robert, an unknown writer (Peter Sarsgaard). The catch is that Jeffery wants Robert to change the main character, who dies from AIDS, from a gay man to a straight woman. Along with Jeffery’s wife Elaine (Patricia Clarkson), these characters have their lives become more and more intertwined, a situation that may not work out well for one or more of them.

The Poster

Beautiful, with it’s streaked text and the blue-hued face of Sarsgaard, this is a striking poster. As usual with most independent releases, the poster devotes considerable real-estate to listing the film festivals it’s been at and the prizes it won at them. The quote just above those festival listings, in case you can’t read it, says, “woe to him who seeks to please rather than appall.” That’s some heavy stuff and, it seems, relates directly to the plot of the movie.

The Trailer

Very cool stuff. We open with the same quote as is on the poster and then get into the plot. Jeffery explains to Robert that a movie about gay people – much less gay people dying – goes against the concept of making moviegoers happy and so his film will not be made unless the character is changed to a woman. The problem is that Robert promised his dying lover that he would catalog his suffering, and so begins to feel the pangs of selling out. Elaine gets in the mix as she becomes more emotionally detached from Jeffery and moreso to Robert. The problem is that there also seems to be some tension between Jeffery and Robert. The entanglement may prove deadly to one of the people involved.

The trailer shows some great performances, especially from Clarkson. There’s enough of the plot given away to draw the audience into seeing more while not giving away any twists or really showing any of the points along the emotional journeys these characters take. Nice stuff.

The Website

There’s not a lot of content, it seems on the movie’s website. It’s good enough, and pretty substantive in the material that is there, but suffers from independent movie syndrome in that it probably had very little budget for online efforts.

There are the usual sections: Story, Cast/Crew and such. The Gallery is kind of interesting in that not only is it hosted on a different site (The home URL for HoleDigger Studios, the makers of the movie) but the pictures appear to be formatted on one sheet like a poster. Trailers & Clips has the trailer (duh) and three clips. If you watch the trailer you can enter to win an iPod Nano, which is kind of a cool concept. There’s also a Reviews section that isn’t finished yet and a page called Playdates, where you can find out when The Dying Gaul is coming to your area.

Overall

A very cool and subdued campaign for this drama. It’s understated, along with the performances, and yet conveys the themes of the movie (integrity, passion, commitment, etc) very well. The poster is uber-cool in its Smurfy blueness and the trailer really showcases the performances – one of the key selling points for the movie – very well. The website is a bit sparse but that’s to be expected. It’s too bad they don’t have the “Reviews” section filled out by now, since that could have helped generate a lot of word of mouth for the movie.

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