IFC Image Ads Mock the Genre

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Independent Film Channel is about to break a new, "mockumentary"-styled image campaign, written and directed by Michael McKean.

The eight-spot campaign — called "Independent Film: A Documentary" — will build on the style IFC first adopted in the late 1990s, said Bravo Networks senior vice president of marketing Caroline Bock. McKean, who appears in each spot, understands that style, said Bock.

In the introductory spot, "A Work in Progress," McKean said: "We wanted to make an unhurried 16-hour documentary on the entire history of independent film — a verbal history of the struggle against soulless Hollywood pap.

"Trouble is, independent film history is being made every day," he added. "I'd never get to go to the movies anymore!"

McKean has an eclectic background. His credits range from the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley to Fox's The X-Files
to the films Best in Show
and This Is Spinal Tap. Along the way, said Bock, he's made friends with actors from various genres who've agreed to perform in the spots, including David Duchovny, Gina Gershon, Howard Hesseman, Jack Black, Parker Posey, Annette O'Toole and Eugene Levy.

NOT REALLY GENA

In another spot, Duchovny portrays indie film producer John Cassavetes — whom he calls "the father of independent film, that's indisputable" — while Gershon portrays actress Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes's wife.

Tongue-in-cheek, McKean observes that the project will draw on "private letters, memos and documents that show the angst as well as the joy of these maverick artists."

A vignette shows Hesseman as Sam Peckinpah, railing against an unnamed film studio executive: "If you ever dare drag your sorry, untalented ass on my set again, I'll slit you up the middle and feed your giblets to my dogs!"

Effective Aug. 1, the satirical spots — some 30 seconds in length, others 60 seconds long — will run on IFC and sister network Bravo, as well as in 500 movie and art-house theaters, mostly owned by Landmark Theatres and Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Clearview Cinemas.

After the first spot breaks, a new one will be added every four weeks, Bock said.

A similar media mix supported IFC's previous mockumentary image efforts: award-winning spots titled "Christie" (1999) and "Boris" (1997).

This time, McKean handled all the writing and directing on his own. "We wanted one creative vision," Bock explained.

The entire eight-spot package was shot in just three days last spring, with some spots still in post-production. That pace owed to McKean's working on a new Christopher Guest film, A Mighty Wind.

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