Movie Marketing Madness: Surrogate Valentine

Movies about breaking out of your comfort zone and going after what you really want are pretty common, right alongside stories where the main character finds them self in a strange environment that’s completely unlike what they’re used to. Every once in a while a unique take comes along on these tropes but often we know the beats they’ll be taking, even if the eventual ride is more or less enjoyable than some of the other variations we’ve seen previously.

Hoping to be among the more original takes on the “I know what I want but it’s so damn hard” genre is Surrogate Valentine. The movie follows San Francisco musician Goh Nakamura, who plays a fictionalized version of himself, as he’s recruited by a friend to teach Danny Turner (Chadd Stoops), an up and coming actor how to play guitar for a movie he’s starring in. Turner follows Goh as he travels form gig to gig and eventually helps Goh work up the courage to finally tell Rachel (Lynn Chen) how he’s always felt about her.

The Posters

The focus here is clearly on Goh, showing just a simple black-and-white photo (the movie is also entirely in black and white) of him carrying his guitar case across a San Francisco street. There’s nothing here about the movie’s story or anything like that so it seems to me the poster really isn’t an important part of the campaign as the filmmakers rely more on word-of-mouth than anything else. it might accurately reflect the scope of the movie but should anyone who hasn’t already heard of the film see it it’s not likely to bring them in.

The Trailers

The trailer opens by establishing the movie’s premise, that a friend of Goh’s has roped him in to giving guitar lessons to a movie actor. So the two guys embark on a journey together to clubs and other gigs as their personalities clash since the Danny is pretty outgoing and Goh very much is not. So while Danny is all about the groupies and such Goh just wants to make his music. Where Kenny begins to pull Goh out of his shell, though, is when it comes to Rachel, and old friend that Goh is secretly in love with. He encourages him to go for it, which is very much not what Goh is comfortable with.

It’s a really good trailer that certainly shows off the music of the movie as well as the overall plot in a charming and funny way. There’s probably not a whole lot of twisting and turning here but it does present the movie as potentially being very amusing. Or it could be awfully self-righteous but my gut says the former.


There’s not a ton of information about the movie on its official website. The trailer is on the front page along with a plot synopsis and you can also view the video for the title song, sign up for information About Goh’s Tour and learn more about him and Dave Boyle, the movie’s director. There’s also the dates for the film’s upcoming film festival appearances listed there.

Also on the site are lots of ways to connect with Goh on social networks, including Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube in addition to his personal official website.

The movie’s Facebook page has some good updates on publicity about the movie as well as a steady stream of other news in addition to some videos, photos and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here unfortunately.

Media and Publicity

Most of the movie’s press has been focused around either the release of marketing materials such as the poster (Wall Street Journal, 3/4/11) or the trailer (Hollywood Reporter, 2/16/11) though some of those stories also discussed the plans Boyle had for self-distributing the movie by making it available on video-on-demand and DVD instead of going through the process of trying to find a buyer.

There will also likely be a nice bump given to the movie’s word-of-mouth when it appears at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival.


It’s a nice little campaign for what appears to be a nice little movie. The combination of all the materials presents a movie that might work for independent film fans if they can find it since the campaign presents a somewhat (though not overly) quirky romantic drama about someone’s romantic pursuits. There’s not a lot to the marketing but that’s to be expected with a movie of this size. It’s charming and it by and large works for what it is, which is all a marketing campaign can be expected to be.

QOTD: 3/10/11

From Popular Mechanics:

“Feel sorry for Austin, which is about to be forcibly Instagrammed into a sun-bleached, arid wasteland from some indeterminate decade in the mid-20th century.”

via Karina Longworth.