Indie Open Mic Week: TILT

What’s the Movie Called? TILT

Who’s In It? CAST: Wade Dienert, Danielle West, Andrew Lindsay, Laura Busch, David Vieths, Janet Fogg, Robin Whitt; CREW: Director/Producer – Phil Holbrook; Writers/Producers – Jessica King & Julie Keck; Cinematographer/Editor – Jeremy Doyle; Sound – Josh Hemsworth; Original Music – Bill Finn

Why Did You Make the Movie? Phil, Jeremy, Julie & Jessica had all made short films but none felt ready to embark on a feature alone. So…time for collaboration! The movie started with a nightmare Phil had several years ago. He pitched his basic idea to Julie & Jessica after he met them on Twitter and saw some of their shorts. Then Julie & Jessica expanded the idea into TILT. The first draft of the movie was written by April; revisions occurred throughout the summer, while Phil secured locations and took care of casting; and production occurred during 9 long, sleepless days in September of 2010 in Brainerd, Minnesota. The movie is currently being edited by cinematographer/editor Jeremy Doyle.

How Did You Fund It? The TILT team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for $15k in the summer of 2010. While TILT itself is a thriller, they took a more comical approach to their audience building. The essentials of the campaign included a kick-ass pitch video, video updates (“Coffee with Phil”), TILT team reenacted movie scenes for backers who contributed at a certain level, and a lot, a lot, a lot of Twitter and Facebook interaction. The campaign also included interviews on LA Talk Radio’s Film Courage, The Cutting Room Floor with Casey Ryan (interviews 21, 24 & 61), and Dave Charest’s “Wicked Smaht.” In the final days of the campaign, TILT was featured on Kickstarter’s home page and selected by Film Threat as a “Certified Film Threat in Progress.”

One element that really set the TILT campaign apart from the rest was TILTtheTown, an online virtual community set up on Google Maps in which every TILT backer who contributed $15 or more got his/her own kooky bio. There are over 220 fake bios in TILTtheTown, and all of the TILTtheTown resident stories are interwoven. In TILTtheTown you’ll find romances, rivalries, kind cat burglars, beloved bank robbers, roving troubadours, underwater casinos, ice hotels, and adult amusement parks, as well as clues to the characters and events of the movie TILT. On the TILTtheTown map, the backer bios include links to the backers’ real-life Twitter accounts and websites (as applicable), so those trekking through TILTtheTown can find out about some of the real people who helped us make the movie. There’s also a storybook version of TILTtheTown in which the backer stories are connected with hyperlinks to provide a smooth (and fun) viewing experience. TILTtheTown generated A LOT of backer-driven Twitter interaction, and many people said they donated to the campaign just to get into the town. Behold – the power of (supportive) people!

Some real-life connections occurred as a result of TILTtheTown. In our ‘town,’ we made TILT backer Paul Barrett a garden gnome loving mayor and pitted him against garden gnome hating HOA president Justin W. Hedges. Both Paul and Justin went to town playing with their TILTtheTown roles on Twitter, and eventually they became friends. Now Paul, a producer, has optioned one of Justin’s screenplays. Real success as a result of a virtual rivalry. Our secret dream is that two TILT backers will find real life love as a result of TILTtheTown. Still working on that one…

What Does the Marketing Look Like? The TILT trailer created by Jeremy Doyle has already played at Flyway Film Festival (secret audience reaction video here) and the Chicago premiere for Jim Vendiola’s DRIFT.  Next it’ll play at the preview screening for 5414 Production’s “A Second Knock at the Door” on 4/29.  Four versions of the TILT poster were created by Jessica King.  And what indie movie would be complete without its own indie brew?  Brainerd Lakes Beer Company created a TILTed T-Ale especially for TILT; it debuted at Egofest in March of 2011, where three sneak peek scenes from TILT were shown.

Our team is active on Twitter and Facebook. We maintain a website, continue to give TILT backers updates on progress via Kickstarter, and were recently invited to be Project #19 in MUBI’s Garage.  We had a TILT production video blog (“The 9 Days of TILTness“)

Another way we grew our online audience was to ask for feedback on key elements of TILT via online polling on our TILT website. Friends and fans helped us pick our composer as well as some other indie features that will have cameos within TILT. This was a fun way to celebrate other people’s talents, whether they won the contest or not. This is how we found Bill Finn.

We also plan to release 4 TILT shorts while TILT is being edited. The first one, BETTY, focuses on a TILT side character who is short on screen time in TILT but big on sass. The four TILT shorts won’t be required viewing for the feature, but they’ll definitely bring a new level of understanding to the world of TILT.

When Is It Being Released? TILT will be finished this summer. We hope to premiere at a Midwestern festival to celebrate our Midwestern roots (Minnesota, Illinois), screen across the country (hello, NY and LA!), and then self-distribute using a hybrid plan that will include DVDs, digital downloads, and more.