In an innovative marketing ploy, the producers of Australian movie John Doe have launched a free interactive game, Vigilante: Speak for the Dead, to create awareness before the film opens in cinemas next year.
Part-funded by Film Victoria, the multi-player online game and the movie provide alternative versions of the saga of an anti-hero who attempts to rid the community of criminals while taking out those he knows are about to commit crimes.
John Doe was directed by Kelly Dolen (Reign in Darkness, Gates of Hell), who wrote the script with Steve Coates, and it stars Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber, Lachy Hulme, Daniel Lissing and Paul O'Brien.
Keith Sweitzer, who produced the film with Screen Corp's James M. Vernon and Kirsty Vernon, and David Lightfoot, says the majority of the funds for both projects came from a private investor. The film is in post and Sweitzer says the producers plan to talk to potential distributors when it's completed early in the New Year.
The Vigilante game will be released globally in January, which should help drive international sales of the film handled by Screen Corp. The producers hope the film and game will lead to a successful franchise. Sweitzer, an American who moved to Australia a couple of years ago, thinks potential international partners could include the Weinstein Co. and eOne.
Available on iTunes in Australia and New Zealand, the game was created by Divisive Media, a game development studio based in Melbourne launched last year by Chris Ferriter, an American who worked for EA, Ubisoft and Midway Atari. Most recently he worked on games for the C.S.I. franchise and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Ferriter started working on the concept when the film was at script stage and spent a year creating the game which he thinks stands in its own right as well as serving as a primer for the movie. He says there will be a hefty marketing campaign for the game, including viral and guerrilla marketing via Facebook and traditional advertising, and he projects at least 50,000 downloads in Oz/NZ.
“What we're doing is probably the largest social media campaign for an Australian independent film,” says Ferriter. “The game is built to have millions of people playing at the same time.”
It enables users to take on the role of a vigilant and to disarm other players while also forming powerful vigilante 'Crews'. It poses questions such as: What's your idea of justice? Will you steer clear of killing and only target hardened criminals? Or are you a 'psychotic killer,' waxing j-walkers and speeding drivers?
When Vigilante rolls out internationally, it will be available on platforms such as iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android and Facebook.