I think I’m on record with enough frequency as being a big fan of Christopher Guest. He’s not only a near genius director but is also a more gifted actor than I think he’s often given credit for. Look at how well he does drama, even in small roles, such as A Few Good Men or Mrs. Henderson Presents. I even consider his role in The Princess Bride to be more dramatic than comedic. Look at him in that one and you’ll see the talent that lies under the comedic genius.
Of course it’s in a series of mostly improvised â€œmockumentaryâ€ films that Guest has really made his name. It all started with This is Spinal Tap, directed by Rob Reiner but then, some 15 years later Guest made the genre his own with the trilogy of Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. These three latter films all were based on stories developed by Guest and Eugene Levy and then starred a regular troupe of actors including Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Bob Balaban, Fred Willard and many others, as well as Guest and Levy themselves.
Guest’s latest film, the one we’re here to discuss today, is For Your Consideration. It’s got the same idea, with his regular group of actors being given a loose story to use as a basis for improvisation, but ditches the documentary style. The movie is about how a random rumor about an actress (O’Hara) being nominated for an Oscar spirals out of control and turns the lives of everyone around her, actors, agents and everyone else, completely upside down.
The poster for For Your Consideration should be instantly familiar to fans of Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. All the actors are grouped together in a setting that speaks to the setting of the film. Where Show’s poster had them all clutching their dogs and Wind’s showed everyone with guitars, this one lines up the cast behind the velvet rope running alongside a red carpet, two things that instantly identify where they are as an awards show.
Is this poster going to appeal to a mass audience, including the teenagers who are just waiting for Lindsay Lohan to dry out and make another movie? Not a bit. Everyone up there is old and, quite frankly, looks weird. But that’s alright since those people aren’t the movie’s intended audience. The poster is meant to attract people who know Guest and his work and are already fans. It’s strictly an awareness-raising poster, alerting that group that a new movie is coming out. So in achieving intended and necessary goals this poster works perfectly
Go ahead and try and convince me Guest isn’t playing Rob Reiner. Come on, try.
It’s almost impossible for me to try and describe the action going on in the trailer. (Thank goodness I’m not a writer.) O’Hara’s overly dramatic and underly talented actress, Harry Shearer’s overly toothed agent and Guest’s overly kosher director are just the highlights. We also get to see that Ricky Gervais, the creator of the original British version of â€œThe Officeâ€ has joined the cast this time. It’s such a great trailer it’s almost ridiculous.
The official site for For Your Consideration is nicely designed, even if its small scale betrays the movie’s humble origins.
“About the Film” contains pretty standard sections on Synopsis, The Story, The Production, The Characters and The Industry. I say they’re pretty standard but that doesn’t mean they’re not well written and completely in line with expectations for a Guest film. While the presentation of the content might be standard, the content itself it certainly not. Each section contains interviews with a large portion, if not all, of the cast. They talk about each aspect of the movie with wit and genuine enthusiasm.
“Cast and Crew” is just what it sounds like. At the beginning of each entry is a brief description of the character the actor plays followed by an incredibly extensive professional biography. “Trailer” just contains the strailer and “Gallery” has about 19 still photos from the movie, meaning just about everyone gets in the picture. “Downloads” just has a screensaver and a couple wallpapers for your PC desktop.
Finally, there’s a link to the film’s MySpace page. That page recreates a good portion of the official site but also has some buddy icons to download a few embedded YouTube-hosted clips from the film. I love that these were here, but why weren’t they on the official site? I’m just asking.
The campaign does a lot of things right, including not over reaching for an audience. Guest’s fans are loyal and they’ve obviously been turning out in sufficient numbers to make his films profitable enough that he gets to keep making them. I’ve said before that a movie will never get an audience bigger than the group that’s already inclined to see it. A campaign that reaches for a bit of mass appeal or genre overlap is great but it’s important to make sure you get your solid base to turn out â€“ everything else is gravy. (That’s why budgets need to be kept in check, but I’m not going to go off on this rant right now.)
The campaign for For Your Consideration does just what it needs to. It’s not overly innovative but it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to make sure fans know the movie is coming out. Think of it like advertising for bread. You don’t need to convince someone of the attributes of the product, you just need to run the ads so people go check to see if they need bread and, if they do, go out and buy your brand. That’s what this movie is: bread. Or something. I think my analogy might be falling apart. But you know what I’m saying, I hope.