Everyone has their eccentricities. Our personalities are, to a large extent, a collection of the quirks and behaviors we’ve developed over the years, most of which are the result of the environments – both physical and emotional – we find ourselves in either by choice or happenstance. We move through the world relating to others the best we can based on that.
Written and directed by Lena Dunham, who also stars as Aura, a barely fictionalized version of herself, Tiny Furniture tells the story of Aura trying to find herself amidst all her quirks. Just out of film school with no future ahead of her, she moves back to New York and begins living with her mother and sister. As she tries to figure out where she fits in to this world she engages in all sorts of reckless behavior, whether it’s letting a man who has nowhere to stay she just met move into her apartment or hanging out with her equally directionless best friend.
The movie’s poster certainly works to convey it’s quirky sensibilities. The image of Dunham and the titular tiny furniture is crammed to the very top of the image while most of the design is dominated by a description of her character’s mindset. The slightly muted colors work well against the white floor that she’s laying on and so it makes it clear to the audience that we’re watching a dry indie comedy about a particularly eccentric but largely unmotivated person.
The trailer, which debuted in advance of the film’s debut at SXSW, introduces us to Aura and her situation – recently moved back to New York from Ohio and living with her mom and younger sister. She gets introduced to Chad, who’s described as being “internet famous,” who she begins an unusual relationship with as she’s trying to figure out the rest of her life. It’s clear her relationship with her old friends and family is a big strained.
The trailer has several opportunities to go for an easy joke and the fact that it doesn’t do so makes it clear to me that it’s trying to sell the movie as more of a heart-felt piece about coming to terms with your place in the world and accepting who you are than a straight comedy. Sure there are some funny moments likely to be there, but this is a gentle trailer with a definite indie vibe that should appeal to a good range of the audience for such films.
A shorter and more official trailer was released later on that featured much of the same footage, though many scenes were cut down to shorter snippets and one or two new bits were added. It works just as well as the longer teaser but in a more structured and traditional way.
The official website for the movie is pretty sparse but there are some nice elements to it. The front page features the trailer and a stream of News updates from the film’s Twitter account that mention the movie or Dunham. There’s also the ability to download the movie’s Soundtrack in a ZIP file.
“Story” has a good synopsis of the film’s story as well as a bit of background on the movie, including pointing out that most of the cast are Dunham’s real life family basically playing themselves. There’s more information on the players in the “Cast & Crew” section as well.
Links to some of the movie’s press is in the “Press” section, obviously, and you can also grab a collection of stills and a press kit there. Finally “Screenings” lets you know where the movie is or will be playing.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing at all that I’m aware of.
Media and Publicity
As mentioned above, the movie had it’s coming out party at SXSW 2010, which helped it rack up a significant about of praise out of the gate. It was there the movie won the Best Narrative award and shortly thereafter was picked up for distribution by IFC.
Around SXSW there were also profiles of Dunham (New York Times, 3/23/10) that focused on not only how the movie was a thinly veiled autobiography, complete with her real life family portraying her on-screen family, but also the payoff of a year that began with her bringing her first movie to SXSW a year prior.
Dunham was also profiled as one of a new string of filmmakers who make movies that are, in essence, about themselves (Filmmaker Magazine, 10/10) or at least some slightly fictionalized version of themselves. I don’t know that that’s as new a trend as the story makes it out to be, but I get what they’re going for.
It’s a nice little campaign that works by playing up the eccentric nature of Dunham’s story and characters while also presenting them as pretty easy to relate to, seeming more like just one of the people you know who marches to their own beat as opposed to an extreme oddball such as you’d find in a Coen Brothers movie. It’s all very ordinary even as we see a character who’s so caught up in herself and her naval-gazing that she can’t see how oddly her relationships are playing out.
The fact that there was plenty of publicity around this movie, particularly around its festival appearances, is nice to see since marketing components of the campaign aren’t going to reach a huge audience. The trailer and poster are good, as is the website, but the press coverage is what has the most potential to get people talking and for a movie of this size it’s certainly not lacking on that front.