Some people are just whole packages of awkward. They don’t know how to act in social situations, they aren’t able to function in any sort of organized setting, they’re constantly putting their foot in their mouth and otherwise just are just a big old mess. From start to finish these kinds of people just aren’t able to keep their stuff together.
STOP JUDGING ME, MOM!!!
(Sorry, I may be processing some issues. Let’s pretend this didn’t happen and move on.)
One such individual is Jack, the title character in Jack Goes Boating. Played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also is making his directorial debut here, Jack is working as a limo driver but is largely going nowhere, either in his career or in his personal life. One day a co-worker, who’s also his closest friend, and his wife decide to set Jack up on a date with a young woman who, it turns out, has as many inter-personal issues as he does. Despite their awkwardness, though, they progress on a relationship that takes both of them out of their comfort zones and into something new and exciting.
The poster for the movie makes it clear that the title is as literal as it is symbolic. Hoffman’s character is right there in a small canoe paddling through the water and that’s about all the design has to say for itself. The title’s there, of course, as is the cast list. But there’s no overly clever copy or anything else. It’s a simple poster that is designed to sell a simple, no-frills movie.
It’s clear from the trailer that we’re dealing with a couple of main characters – the titular Jack and Connie, the woman who he’s set up with by some mutual friends – who are emotionally damaged and socially awkward. So the movie, according to this, is about them becoming comfortable with each other and getting past the quirks and foibles that have caused problems for them in the past.
Along with their journey, though, the marriage of those mutual friends will be tested as they watch this new love bloom, a process that causes them to question some of the things about their own relationship.
It’s also clear that the title for the movie is not a metaphor or allegory for anything. It’s about Jack planning to go boating in the future, including learning how to swim. Sure, that whole thing is a metaphor for the relationship stuff going on in the rest of the movie, but the title itself is pretty much dead on descriptive of a primary plot element.
The movie’s official website is designed to reuse the poster key art as its primary design point, with the trailer playing automatically when the site loads. All of the content then appears in that main content well, with the poster art staying along the sides.
The “About” section has a Synopsis of the movie’s story along with the credits and a brief mention of the story’s origin on the stage.
“Cast & Crew” doesn’t stick to the usual formula of giving the reader each person’s career history. Instead if features a few quotes from the actor on how they approached playing the role they’re in and how the production went, especially the transition from the stage to the screen.
There are a handful of extended clips in the “Videos” section that do what they need to do, which is sell the movie based on the strength of the performances. And by my count there are over 30 stills, some from the movie and some from production, in “Photos.”
There are also Facebook and Twitter profiles that have updates on marketing and publicity activities as well as other interactions with those who have tuned in to those channels. The Facebook page obviously has more multimedia assets such as videos and photos and such as well.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
I think there have been a couple online ads on independent film sites that I’ve seen but that’s about it. It’s a small film with limited initial release so it’s not like there are going to be a ton of TV spots or huge promotional partners.
Media and Publicity
The movie made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, which garnered it a bit of attention, and was then announced as one of those that would be appearing at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, which brought it even more.
A theme of much of the publicity was that the decision to star in the movie was not one Hoffman made willingly (Reuters, 9/14/10) but only out of desperation when the actor he wanted was unavailable for the shooting schedule.
As I said about one part of the movie’s website, the focus of the campaign is definitely on the actors and selling this as an actor’s showcase. So while there are moments of some melodrama or other sort of cliched trailer-esque scenes, the whole thing is designed to put the actors and their characters in the spotlight. It’s a solid campaign that should appeal to fans of Hoffman’s work as well as of intelligent adult dramas as a whole.