For most, a slasher parody drenched in deliberately lo-fi VHS-era aesthetics isn’t necessarily the first thing they think about when they think about films premiering at a prestigious mainstream independent film festival. Heartfelt stories of personal triumph? Sure. Searing explorations of hot-button social issues? Of course. But an enraged, undead maniac named “Motherface” stalking and slicing his way through a den of Dude Bro Party animals? Not likely.
Story and visual style aren’t the only things that set Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 apart from the other films at the 2015 LA Film Festival. In fact, the film—a pastiche of Reagan-era horror films presented as if it was the last surviving VHS copy in existence (wobbly tracking lines and all)—found itself in a unique position, premiering in the festival’s inaugural “Nightfall” genre category.
Dude Bro is the first feature creation out of the wildly popular internet comedy troupe/production company/viral phenomenon 5 Second Films. Creators of cutting-edge micro-entertainment years before Vine, the 5SF crew came to LA Film Festival not only with a built-in fanbase, but with the film’s distribution already in place—Dude Bro premiered on iTunes last July.
But as unique as it was, Dude Bro absolutely benefited from their LA Film Festival premiere in innumerable ways, chief among them press and audience exposure that reached well beyond the online 5SF fanbase.
Film Independent recently caught up with 5 Second Films member and Dude Bro filmmaker Michael E. Peter to talk about his experience at the LA Film Festival, and what made the Dude Bro journey so unique.
What was something that surprised you about your experience at the LA Film Festival?
I didn’t expect how impossible it would be to do everything that I wanted to do. Things overlap in the schedule, especially if you have a film [in the festival] and need to do some press. Stuff like that, which is a curse and a blessing ‘cause there’s lots of great stuff, but at the same time it’s impossible to see it all and try to push your film and hobnob at the same time.
What were some of the films you were able to see that you enjoyed?
I really enjoyed The Final Girls. And what was the name of the one that was from Ethiopia? Crumbs, I believe it was called.
What was your daily routine like during the festival?
We’d get there a little bit after lunch when the Festival Lounge opened up. We had a publicist that we hired for the film, so if there were any sort of interviews specific to us she’d send us a daily schedule. One afternoon we talked to like 15 different press outlets. Then it was always the decision of, “Do I go see another film, or do I go to the Lounge, which is now serving alcohol?”
And which one usually won out?
It depended on which movies were playing. If there was a film playing in our category we’d try to go see what the competition had. But if there was a film that wasn’t in our category we’d usually end up going to the lounge and meeting people.
Was your experience different at all because of your background with 5 Second Films?
We probably had a fairly unique experience. We’re pushing a movie called Dude Bro Party Massacre 3, which has a person’s face exploding in blood on the poster. The other thing was, we already decided we were going to do our own digital distribution, so we weren’t there to sell the film. But had someone come up to us and said, “I’ll give you all the money in the world for a wide release” we would’ve taken the meeting.
So being at LA Film Fest was important as a promotional tool.
It was great in helping to spread the word about the film and getting write-ups and reviews. So usually when we’d get a review, the outlet would be able to say “and the film will be available for sale on such-and-such date.”
Do you think there was a bump in exposure from premiering at LA Film Festival?
A lot of news outlets that wrote about the film that normally wouldn’t. We [5 Second Films] get mentioned on tech blogs and really internet savvy stuff, but this was the first time we were in The Hollywood Reporter.
What are a few reasons you would recommend the LA Film Festival for filmmakers looking to submit to festivals?
The number one reason is location—just the fact that you’re in Los Angeles, and that the festival is much more populated by local industry people. People are able to go to LA Film Festival and just catch a couple movies. Another reason is that the festival staff is awesome and helpful and good at answering your questions, and they’re just generally nice people.
Lastly, what piece of advice would you give to filmmakers who are submitting their films around the festival circuit?
I’d definitely say keep your premiere status. A lot of the better festivals require you to have a world premiere or a US premiere. So if you napalm-style apply to every festival, you can get a smaller one, and that’ll jeopardize your ability for a larger premiere. So what we did was we had our short list of festivals we would be happy to premiere at, the LA Film Festival being one of them. And once we had our premiere [at LA Film Festival] then we applied to every genre festival under the sun.
For more information about how to submit your film to the 2016 LA Film Festival, click here.
Matt Warren / Film Independent Digital Content Manager