It’s not often that great independent film makes its way to Provo’s theatres. That isn’t the case this weekend, as Dave Boyle’s excellent White on Rice begins its second weekend at Provo Towne Centre. (Rhombus film critic Jordan Petersen recently raved about the film here.) In hopes of boosting support for the film, we have teamed up with Boyle to offer our readership the opportunity to win free tickets to this weekend’s showings. What do you need to do to score these freebies? It’s all outlined below in a guest post from the film’s director, Dave Boyle. Take the time to read his message and get in the drawing for the tickets. We promise you won’t regret supporting this great independent film.
– Steve Pierce, Editor
Have you ever heard the term “high concept?”
It usually means something that can be summarized in just a few succinct words. The term is often bandied about in the movie world, and I believe one famous director once said, “if you can tell me the plot in 25 seconds, then I know it’s going to be a good movie.”
An astronaut lands on a planet ruled by smart apes: high concept. A girl finds out the boy she’s crushing on is a vampire: high concept.
A recently divorced Japanese guy who’s on the cusp of turning forty moves to Utah to live with his sister and share a bunk bed with his ten-year-old nephew while he searches for the love of his life? Not so high concept. And it has some subtitles.
But who cares? I hate high concept. I like things to be complicated, unique and difficult to describe in glib sound bytes. I like subtitles too.
The last plot I described is that of my new movie White on Rice. I shot it here in Utah (I went to BYU and live in Provo), but I would be hesitant to describe it as a “local movie” since that term has become so loaded. It is currently playing in Provo at the Provo Towne Centre and at the Century 16 Cinemas in Salt Lake City.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “Why all the discussion about ‘high concept?’” The answer is that high concept films are easy to market to a mass audience. Films like mine require an extra amount of tender loving care to find an appreciative audience. Even if the audience exists, sometimes the movie vanishes from theaters too quickly for them to find it.
Which is why I would ask that you give my film White on Rice a chance while it’s still in theaters. Supporting a film like this sends a message to theatrical bookers that there is an audience in Provo for unconventional fare, and they needn’t book “Transformers 2″ on eight screens in order to make ends meet. Not every movie has to be based on a toy in order to do well in a town like this.
Here’s a little bit of background: unlike most films that you see in the multiplexes, my film is being “self-distributed.” In other words, in addition to being the co-screenwriter/director, I am also the guy who is taking it to theaters, city-by-city. After playing at film festivals since March, we opened the film earlier this month in two theaters in Los Angeles and Orange County, and the following week expanded to two more theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Box office was good, though it can only go so high when you’re in only two or three theaters at once. More importantly, we had predominantly good-to-great reviews including a wonderful and surprising story in the San Francisco Chronicle that called the film “a cinematic milestone.” It seemed that our grassroots and Web-based approach was working for the film. We prepared to open the film in Utah, hoping for a hero’s welcome (the ol’ “hometown boy makes good” thing).
Cut to several days later, and I’m sitting in a pile of scathing and sarcastic reviews from critics in, of all places, Salt Lake City. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got thick skin and can handle people not liking me or my work. But to come up against a united front like this was pretty sad. Worst of all, one of the reviews wrote that the movie features slurs and other racist language — a claim that is patently false. I guess they just didn’t get it.
Film distribution is always a roller coaster ride, and I’ve gotta admit I was feeling pretty low for a little while. (Though I admit I’d rather have great press in San Francisco and lousy press in Utah than vice versa. Can’t have everything.) As Friday rolled around, I held my breath waiting to see if people would show up to the all-important evening shows.
Guess what? They did. And the screenings went great.
I had some uncomfortable moments talking to people afterword (“Dude, the Deseret News called you racist! How do you feel about that?“), but I can’t complain about the turnout or the response. On Saturday, we went up against the BYU football game, so things were a little slower but not dead. All in all, we had a very solid Utah debut.
Come Monday, the theaters decided to keep Rice around for another week, which brings us to the present…
I have a big challenge ahead of me this weekend. Not only is there a BYU football game on Friday, but we also have the big mother of all LDS events: General Conference. To be honest, I don’t know if White on Rice will be around in Utah theaters for another week unless people keep showing up. If you want to see the movie, this weekend is the time to do it!
With that in mind, I am offering a limited number of pairs of free tickets to the Saturday night 9:00 showing in Provo. Here’s what I ask: Email at least five of your friends the link to this article, and invite them (nay, urge them) to go and see White on Rice this weekend. CC me on your email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and use the subject line: “White on Rice in Provo this weekend!”
On Friday October 2nd at 5:00 p.m., I’ll pick five random names and send each of them a confirmation number to pick up their pair of tickets at the box office in Provo.
I sincerely hope that my efforts with White on Rice will pave the way for other art house or unconventional movies to play in Provo theaters. If you give this film a chance, you will help to accomplish that goal — and I think you’ll really enjoy it too.
White on Rice is currently playing in San Francisco, San Jose, Salt Lake City and Provo. Upcoming cities include Denver and Honolulu. For more details, visit www.whiteonricethemovie.com
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