Tonight we are going to see Sleepwalk With Me, the first independent film produced by This American Life’s Ira Glass, starring comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia. If you haven’t heard about it already, check out the trailer HERE.
Leading up to the premiere of the film in NYC a couple weeks ago Glass and Birbiglia have been using social media in fun ways to get the word out about the film beyond the TAL fan base, and on a budget of about $0. Fans of the film (and supporting independent productions), like Joss Whedon (director of this summer’s blockbuster smash hit The Avengers), have helped spread the word to their fan base by establishing a fake rivalry between then which garnered 170k+ views on YouTube. The way they’ve spread the word about Sleepwalk With Me, a small movie on a tight budget with a ‘quirky’ premise, is inspiring. The idea that you can rely on your friends to support you, then tell their friend’s friends and so on and so forth, is simple and yet amazingly effective in this age of social media.
They’ve also been taking the grassroots marketing approach and showing up to screenings which add a bit of celebrity cache to the typical movie going experience. While I hear Glass is rather odd and perhaps not the ideal person for a meet-and-greet with one set of movie-goers after another, Birbiglia is an affable guy who is on the road most of the year and seems unphased when people ask him to sign their desktop computers and other random items after a show.
With that in mind I kept a close eye on when the film would be opening in LA and if the guys would make an appearance here. Birbiglia is coming to the Nuart Theater to do Q&A after a number of screenings, including ours. YAY! I expect he’ll be burnt out after the non-stop promotion but hopefully energized by an enthusiastic crowd in the movie capital of the world. I plan to wait around until I get a picture with him - exactly the kind of famous person I like to have a photo with, slightly obscure but very cool to the people who know of him.
As for the movie, well, I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t comment on the content. I have heard a story or two about Birbiglia’s sleep issues which are embedded in this fictionalized version of his troubles so I know the source material is solid. And I love Lauren Ambrose, who plays his girlfriend. If the other elements align the film’s Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival won’t be a fluke.
Now the only question is, should I wear my PJ’s to the screening?