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July 18, 2012

As mentioned in my review of Fat Kid Rules the World, Shaunta and I have both signed up with Tugg the Fat Kid to promote the film version of the book. As it turns out, Julie Wyman is also using Tugg to promote her film Strong!, the story of Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Hayworth.

Both FKRTW and Strong! are the kinds of fat positive, art house films that the Fat Acceptance community should be rallying behind. So to that end, this post will be about how you can help these projects succeed so that we can spread the message of acceptance and positivity to every corner of this country.

So first, the details:

  • Strong! has 24 hours to sell 38 tickets to its Pasadena, California premiere. If you are near Pasadena, or know anyone near Pasadena, please reserve your tickets here to ensure that the screening takes place. After the movie, Julie Wyman, Ragen Chastain and Jeanette DePatie will hold a Q&A session. Forty people have already bought tickets, so let’s fill the theater and ensure that this positive, fat role model gets the attention she deserves. And as an added bonus, anyone who purchases a ticket will receive a $12 gift card to More of Me to Love.
  • FKRTW St. Louis has 52 tickets to sell by July 31. Again, if you are near St. Louis, or know anyone near St. Louis, please reserve your tickets here. Everyone who buys a ticket will be eligible to win a copy of Fat Kid Rules the World, autographed by author KL Going and director Matthew Lillard.
  • FKRTW Reno has 46 tickets to sell by August 7. And once more, if you are near Reno, or know anyone near Reno, please reserve your tickets here. Everyone who buys a ticket will be eligible to win a copy of Fat Kid Rules the World, autographed by author KL Going and director Matthew Lillard.

“I’m near Pasadena/St. Louis/Reno,” I hear you say. “But how do I know I’ll like Strong!/FKRTW. ”

First, watch the trailers.

Here is Strong!

And here is the red band trailer for Fat Kid Rules the World.

“Awesome!” you say. “But I’m not anywhere near Pasadena/St. Louis/Reno. What can I do?”

First, as previously mentioned, you can spread the word to through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or wherever you hang out. Second, this post is about the screenings that Julie, Shaunta and myself are promoting; there are additional screenings throughout the country which you can view on the Strong! Tugg page and the Tugg the Fat Kid page. Finally, if your city isn’t represented, you can join Tugg and promote the film yourself.

Which brings us to the second goal of this post: explaining Tugg and how to promote a film when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing.

You can read this general overview of how Tugg works, but I’d rather explain my own experience. Here’s what happened to me:

First, I registered on, then filled out the Promoter Application. Almost immediately, I received an email from Meghan, a member of the Tugg team. She answered my questions and provided me a link to the Event Request Form, which gets more specific information about my particular Tugg request.

The Event Request Form requests the film you are promoting (as well as any other films from the Tugg library that you may be interested in); what kind of special features you may include in your screening (i.e., introduction, discussion/Q&A, raffle/contest, short film from Tugg library); your preferred venue (Tugg works with 75% of the theaters, including AMC, Regal and Cinemark, so finding a mainstream theater is easy), and two backup venues; the screening date and a backup date;  and the time.

They also ask you to explain your promotion strategy, which I will get to in a bit.

A few things that aren’t mentioned on the Tugg site, but you will definitely want to know: Tugg does not allow you to begin selling tickets until 30 days before your screening date. So, although my screening will take place August 8, but my ticket reservation page didn’t go live until July 10. Also, when selecting dates, it’s important to know that Tugg discourages people from requesting a weekend screening for obvious reasons. Theaters are much more receptive to screenings that take place on Monday through Thursday. Finally, the last bit of information that is conspicuously absent from Tugg’s FAQ is any mention of the fact that your deadline for selling the required amount of tickets is approximately one week before the screening. This makes absolute sense, as Tugg needs time to secure the screening and send the movie to the theaters, but this also means that you have less time for promoting the film than you think. This made a major difference in my experience with Tugg.

I submitted my Promoter Application on June 14 and immediately filled out the Event Request Form. Throughout this process, Meghan was awesome, answering all of my emails promptly, day or night, weekend or not. She was friendly, informative, supportive and extremely helpful. I cannot overstate what an asset she is to Tugg and, if their other team members are half as awesome as she is, then you will have no problem setting this up.

But we did hit a few hiccups.

For instance, on June 19 my first choice theater rejected my requested date. We submitted a new date and on June 26, my second requested date was rejected. So Meghan helped me pick a new theater and a new date. The date was approved on June 28, but then I realized that I had made a horrible mistake: I chose the date our family would be leaving on vacation. Gracious as always, Meghan withdrew the request and submitted another. Unfortunately, this new date gave me just under two weeks to meet my goal. So, for the second time, I requested a new date.

Finally, on July 10, we got a date that worked for everyone, and gave me plenty of time to promote. Although the theater request process took a while, Meghan was incredibly supportive and helpful. Were it not for her encouragement, I probably would have bailed out of frustration.

With my date set in stone, I progressed to the promotion phase of the process. Once again, Meghan was a great source of help, sending me a set of promotional tools I could use to create posters, bumper stickers and promotional materials. I printed two versions: one flyer for distribution and one flyer for hanging in coffee shops and book stores that had tear off strips at the bottom with the link to Tugg the Fat Kid.

I lucked out because the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase was that same weekend, so I delivered a hundred flyers for distribution. This weekend, I plan to poster flyers all over the city with my son and his best friend.

In the meantime, I reached out to every local TV and radio station, as well as every newspaper and weekly I could find. I sent the following email:

This August, St. Louis will premiere Fat Kid Rules the World (Redband trailer), a film about 17-year-old Troy, a suicidal fat kid, whose life is saved by Marcus, a homeless guitar hero with a prescription drug addiction who wants to form a punk band. While the story itself is great, the story behind the film’s premier is even more incredible.

Director Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk!, the bad guy in Scream, and Shaggy from Scooby Doo) launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $150,000 for production costs. Now, Lillard has released the film through a site called Tugg, which allows fans to become promoters for the film, rather than using a traditional promotional campaign. If the local promoter sells the designated amount of tickets prior to the premier, then the film will show. Crowd-sourcing funds for production costs and promotional efforts makes Fat Kid Rules the World redefines what an independent film can be.

And Lillard’s Tugg the Fat Kid campaign has been the most successful film in Tugg’s brief, one-year history, with over 700 screenings arranged already. I am promoting the St. Louis premiere on August 8, and I’m looking for help in promoting the film as we have to sell 52 tickets by July 31. Both Lillard and KL Going, the author of the book on which the film is based, are available for interviews about the film. Does this sound like something you might be interested in covering? Or else, would you know someone who could help? I really appreciate your time and I think you’ll love the movie.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.

The response has been mixed. I had one PR manager from Emmis tell me that they are selective in who they promote and would not promote anyone without an advertising budget. However, the movie reviewer for one of the most popular radio shows on St. Louis responded to my email immediately and is in the midst of arranging an interview with Matthew Lillard for next week. I haven’t heard from any of the newspapers, sadly.

So, I then went to the alternative venues for promoting the film: Craigslist, Yelp, Meetup, Metromix, CBS Local, and Patch (if you have any other suggestions, please let me know). I also found that two of our local media outlets have event pages I could submit to, including the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Riverfront Times.

I also took to social media and sent links and descriptions to every local group I could find. And, of course, I’m sharing it on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties because that’s my own platform for spreading the word.

Finally, the most awesome promotional tool so far is the fact that last week, KL Going dropped everything and Skyped with me for what will be the inaugural episode of a new interview series I’m going to launch. And KL has been incredibly supportive of this film, offering to do anything she can to help make it a success, which is pretty rare for the author of the source novel to do these days. But that’s just how much she believes in this film.

Promoting Fat Kid Rules the World hasn’t been easy and until July 31, I won’t know if my efforts will pay off, but I strongly believe that the story of Troy Billings and Curt MacCrae will resonate with those who aren’t born to conform. I also believe this story has the power to change the public’s perception of fat people.

I hope that you will join Julie, Shaunta and I in supporting and promoting Strong! and Fat Kid Rules the World, because if we are ever going to see positive role models in the media, it seems like we’re going to have to put them there ourselves.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012 2:13 pm

    What can I do in Texas to help and get it to this area? I would like to learn more so I could be active and help here in the Dallas area. Marla

    • fatology101 permalink
      July 18, 2012 2:20 pm

      duh, maybe if I read it first I would have known what to do. hahahaha never mind.

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