Friday, August 17, 2012

Now YOU control the multiplex

Have you heard about Tugg? I hadn't, until a filmmaker e-mailed me to tell me about "It's a Girl," a documentary getting a new kind of release around America through this web-based site.

Tugg ( works this way: You pick a film from the library of movies registered with the site. (Or you can register your own choice.) You can personalize your event by adding short films, setting up a Q&A with the director or inviting a guest speaker. You select a time and date at a venue affiliated with the site -- which, in our area, means theaters runs by Regal or AMC -- and set ticket prices.

You post on Tugg, embedding a trailer and poster, and use social media to get out the word. If you promote the film hard, ensuring that enough tickets are pre-sold to cover the cost, you don't end up paying a screening fee. Presto! You're an exhibitor.

This gives small movies with no distributor a chance to be seen, and "It's a Girl" is a perfect example. It's a tough documentary about a topic that needs to be discussed: Every year, millions of girls in China and India are murdered, abandoned or aborted because parents want sons. (Get details at

A look at Tugg indicates that small indies are in demand: "Craigslist Joe" is on tap for Miami, while Lynwood, Va., is about to see "Fat Kid Rules the World." But the site's library also includes the likes of "The Artist," "The King's Speech" and "Blue Valentine."

There's already a Tugg entry lined up in Charlotte for August 30: "Iron Sky," whose tagline reads: "The Reich Strikes Back." (Now that's an evil empire.) The Back Alley Film Series slated it for a screening at AMC Carolina Pavilion, and enough seats have been sold to guarantee the showing.

I like this idea enormously -- Tugg, that is, not "Iron Sky." (I haven't seen it.) Video on demand has become commonplace, but movies on demand -- shown on the big screen, to the communal audience they're supposed to have -- is a new idea, and a great example of democracy at work.