It’s Just a Trailer!

posted by
Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Horror film trailer on Internet causes stir in Muskogee
Tulsa World
April 12, 2008

m_34cff6f8c5c17d289b8fb522caf30b0a-bridges.jpgMuskogee (AP) — An Oklahoma-made independent film has been pulled from a Muskogee film festival after its Internet trailer caused concern among local residents and prompted an investigation by police and the FBI.

The horror film “A Beautiful Day,” produced by Outsider Productions of Shawnee, was to debut April 25 at Muskogee’s Bare Bones International Independent Film and Music Festival, but organizers said Friday they pulled the film after the controversy.

“We’re going to pull that movie from the festival basically to let the other filmmakers know that to use that type of marketing is not smart and there has to be some kind of consequences to it,” said festival director Oscar Ray.

A trailer for the film was posted on the video-sharing site YouTube under the headline, “Warning, Muskogee, OK.” The video featured a synthesized voice saying, “People of Muskogee. Open your eyes. April 25th is a day you’ll come to remember.” Along with images of dark forests, it included the message “the end is coming.”

Without context, the video came across as a possible terrorist threat, said Muskogee police spokesman Brad Holt.

Muskogee school officials alerted police to the video after word spread among students. April 25 is prom night for some of the schools, which only heightened concern, Holt added.

Muskogee police contacted the FBI and began investigating with federal agents before determining it was not a threat but a film trailer.

“Meant as a publicity stunt and just went bad,” Holt said. “They didn’t mention anything about a movie. It sounded like a threat.”

James Bridges, who helped produce the film, said he posted the video on April 4 and apologized for the fear created by the trailer.

He said the video was intended to be the first in a series of mysterious snippets that would gradually reveal more information, a marketing tactic used for movies like “Cloverfield” and “The Blair Witch Project.”

“It wasn’t a hoax. We weren’t trying to scare people as a hoax,” he said. “We were trying to actually promote our movie.”

Bridges said when he saw comments on the video in which people thought it was a threat, he immediately tried to contact Muskogee police and added a disclaimer to the trailer. He ultimately decided to remove the video.