Friday, September 18, 2009

Kitchen Hamlet, brought to you by...

I keep a Google alert set up for Kitchen Hamlet, so I can find out when people write about the movie, or when the trailer or images show up places. It doesn't get constant action, but things do appear. Sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, it brings up a page that has actually been out there for a while already.

Recently, an alert came up, so I followed the link. It led to IMDb, where there's a page for the movie, along with a trailer. I realized it was about to show the trailer, so I was preparing to leave the page, when an announcement appeared in the video screen, saying, "Video begins after advertisement." "Advertisement?" I wondered. "What advertisement?"

Sure enough, within seconds I was looking at car crashes, enormous flames, bodies in floods, and Simon Baker, in an ad for the tv show, The Mentalist. The commercial plaid out, the screen went dark, and then there was Pat Shaw as Hamlet, looking at me, about to speak.

I'm trying to sort out what was so odd about this experience. At one level, it was quite strange to see this commercial, any commercial, before Kitchen Hamlet. The film is about as uncommercial as it can be, perhaps intentionally, so there was a discontinuity between the two things. (I've also seen a car ad come up, I think, though I can't remember which; this was an even odder disjunction.) I have no doubt I agreed to something, in the process of posting the trailer, that gives IMDb permission to put up an ad before the trailer, so I'm not complaining that they snuck this in. I think I was most thrown by the commodification, or more accurately the commercial utilization, of the trailer and, by extension, of the movie. I have had thoughts about how we might sell the movie; I had certainly never thought about how the movie might be used to sell something else.

On the other hand, I was also secretly (well, not so secretly now) thrilled. There was something so pathetically validating about the feeling that anyone would bother to throw an ad in front of the trailer. I have proudly made an enormously non-commercial product, only to find myself excited to see it used for commercial means, and sitting cheek by jowl with commercial product. I was pleased, in essence, to have sold out, though the price was zero.

What conclusions? What nugget of wisdom from this dual response? None, I'm afraid. Just a musing on the allure of commercial validation. We've got the submissions going now. We've had a couple of rejections, and some encouragement. I hope I'll have more to share soon. Meanwhile, I find myself thinking about the secret truth that even when we want to hid our light beneath a bushel, we're hoping the light is neon, and the bushel at least a little translucent.

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