Whistler Film Fest messes with Hollywood

Genre-defying film trailers remind viewers to "prepare for the unexpected" in this campaign by Vancouver-based Dare.

The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) is doing its best to be unpredictable. It recently launched the final stage of a campaign aiming to entice film buffs to make the event a regular stop on their festival circuit by touting films that differ from the Hollywood norm.

Three full film trailers featuring the campaign tagline “Prepare for the unexpected” were produced by Vancouver-based Dare, which began working with Whistler this year. The clips start off in typical Hollywood fashion, but then offer viewers unexpected endings. One mines familiar kids’ animated-feature-film ground, with a prince climbing a tower to reach a princess. As it turns out, he’s not there to rescue her, but to inform her he doesn’t have the drug money he owes. The princess doesn’t take the news well.

“Independent film festival fans want to see new, independent films,” says Rob Sweetman, ECD, Dare. “Our strategy was to position the Whistler Film Festival as far from the mainstream [as possible].”

The trailers have been airing in Whistler hotel rooms with 30-second versions running on various B.C. TV stations. Beyond the trailers, there are OOH executions featuring unexpected stories in unusual places, like on rezoning and condo construction signs, as well as DM pieces in pizza flyers, fax messages and stories posted online on sites like Craigslist and Kijiji. People were also asked to write their own unexpected plot ideas for fictional movie posters via Flickr and Twitter for a chance to win gold festival passes.

The earlier stage of the campaign featured print and online ads in film industry publications.

advertiser: Whistler Film Festival
agency: Dare, Vancouver
CDs: Bryan Collins, Rob Sweetman
copywriter: Mia Thomsett
AD: Rob Sweetman
producer: Mike Hasinoff
account supervisor: Tamara Bennett