This is the fifth and final post in our series from John August, a screenwriter whose directorial debut, The Nines, continues to offer him new lessons about the dizzying world of movie marketing. Today, John worries himself sick over his film’s imminent (Aug. 31) release.
Watch out for Melting Dread. That’s the only advice I can offer in this final installment of guest-blogging.
I felt something strange the other day, as I was sitting in my office chair. It was the sensation of falling through steam. I felt it on my skin, in my gut, in my throat. I’ve had motion-sickness before — for me, the ferry ride to Catalina might as well be childbirth — but this was the closest I’ve come to throwing up through pure emotional response.
You know how in some movies, a character is told a piece of shocking news and vomits? I never believed that until now. I was five seconds from dropping the phone and dashing.
The inciting incident for my near-heaving was a phone call about an issue that’s now put to rest. But the feeling has stuck with me, because it was, for me, an entirely new form of panic. I’m calling it Melting Dread.
Melting Dread is not the “my stomach hurts and it’s probably cancer” kind of slow panic, built of assumptions and conjecture, backed up by ill-advised Googling at two in the morning. Nor is it the quick panic, fight-or-flight reaction, when you think you’re about to get mugged.
M.D. is a strange hybrid, like being chased by a knife-wielding tax collector. You’re worried about the blade, and the bill that will follow.
Through the combined efforts of many people, the Melting Dread haspassed, mercifully. So I can now get back to the primary activity of afilmmaker whose movie comes out in 24 hours: reloading Rotten Tomatoesagain and again. Is this emotionally unhealthy? Of course. But I don’tthink it’s a uniquely Hollywood form of narcissistic self-destruction.If there were an equivalent of Rotten Tomatoes for schoolteachers, Ithink we know how they’d be spending their recess breaks.
The Nines had been at 100 percent for months (since Sundance),but I knew from the publicists’ e-mails that there were some negativereviews coming. (I should probably explain that I burned Time Out New York’s Joshua Rothkopf’s house to the ground, and he evidently hasn’t forgiven me, despite the nice muffin basket I sent.)
I was heartened by our B in EW,among other national publications. And I genuinely appreciate thenegative reviews that take the time to articulate why the movie doesn’twork for them, rather than talking about Ryan Reynolds’ abs.
From here, it’s two Q&A screenings (one at USC, the other at theLA opening at the Nuart), a trip to Venice for our premiere at Critics’Week, and a long stretch of medicated airborne slumber. Then it’s backto my own blog, the next script, and constant vigilance for potentialsources of Melting Dread. I’m keeping particularly close eye on Ashley Tisdale. (I have my reasons.)
Oh, and go see The Nines! I feel like I deserve one last chance to shamelessly plug it.