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By Chris Thilk | March 8, 2005

Campbell Scott is one of my favorite actors. I first came across him in 1992’s “Singles” and have followed him in everything I could since then, most recently in 2002’s “Secret Lives of Dentists”.

So I was very excited to see this, his latest directorial effort. Scott seems to be of a mold that is becoming increasingly rare in entertainment: Someone, who despite the allure of big paychecks and fame, is committed to taking on projects he finds interesting regardless of outside considerations. The most commercial project I can find on his filmography is his turn costarring with Julia Roberts in “Dying Young”, a movie which made me want to do exactly that.

The Trailer

Character driven and low-key, this trailer will turn off the ten million people who shelled out their money for Alien Vs. Predator and that’s just fine. We are introduced to the basic plot of a hard working family living off the grid of general society and the IRS agent who invades their self-contained world. There’s lots of good acting going on in this brief two and a half minutes of footage, especially by stars Joan Allen and Sam Elliot.

There’s a dreamy almost surreal sense to it, almost giving the impression the world this movie is set in is not just outside the norm most of us are used to, but that it exists on a completely separate plane of existence. Perhaps this is emphasized due to the movie being told in flashback. Perhaps its just a movie doing what all movies should: taking us to a world we don’t know for a period of time.

The Poster

There are two posters I was able to find, one of which is completely in line with everything else in the campaign and one which, well, sucks and looks like it was put together by the same schmuck responsible for so many DVD cover atrocities. Both posters feature listings of at least some of the festivals where this movie has been floating around for the last two years or so.

The one that sucks has a sepia-toned look to it and features Allen’s and Elliot’s heads floating in space. Let us speak no more on this.

The one that doesn’t suck has Elliot, Allen and child star Valentina de Angelis in a tight group in front of the New Mexico landscape, the setting for most of the films action. This one just works so much better for me it’s not even funny. This is a character drama, not some sort of weird psychological thriller.

The Website

Surprisingly robust for a small non-major studio picture, the website is obviously meant to be the one-stop resource for all fans of the film looking for as much actual – I don’t know – information as they can handle.

The “Story” and “Behind the Scenes” sections are both thorough and plain-spoken in their outlining of the action in front of and behind the camera. The “Behind the Scenes” profiles the decisions leading to the casting of the five main actors.

“Crew” and “Cast” provide biographies and filmographies for the cast and crew (derr!). The trailer is available in both Quicktime and Windows Media formats in “Media” along with the poster, which is available not only to view but also to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. There is also a clip from the Sundance Channel’s “Anatomy of a Scene” program. This program, or segments from it, are increasingly common extras on DVDs of smaller movies and is a great idea for websites especially since not everyone (including myself) gets Sundance. There are also some pics from the New York City premiere, including a seemingly drunk Stephen Baldwin.

Brief text blurbs can be found in “Reviews”. While the writer’s name and publication are listed, I would have like to have seen links back to the publications’ website as well. “Gallery” is a showcase for the artwork created in the movie by Jim True-Frost’s IRS agent. In actuality the 40-foot long painting was done by artist Stan Berning and a link to his personal site is included here. I love the fact that the entire painting scrolls by automatically. This is how to use Flash technology, folks.

One of my favorite parts of the site is the “Playdates” section detailing when and where the movie will be opening. It gives a brief look inside the playbook of a small studio working out its release strategy for a small film. Each week there are a few more theaters added. Each week a new market is added. My only disappointment is that it doesn’t look like it will make it out to the Chicago suburbs where I live as this movie is definitely toward the top of my list.


Without the major marketing budget of a studio picture, the makers of Off the Map have worked with their strengths by trying to create a grassroots campaign. By including the release dates on their website they have given their audience the tools to find the movie and make plans to see it, even if it involves driving a bit to the nearest theater. Believe me when I say I’m going to be checking back regularly to see if my area has been added, which is probably just what the team behind its inclusion intended.

There’s little pretending to be what it’s not in the trailer and the poster (at least in the one I like). A small intimate movie is presented as a small intimate movie. I just really dug this one.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.

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