“Sound of My Voice” Director Reveals Thinking Behind Mysterious 12-Minute Release

Writer-director Zal Batmanglij talks to Co.Create about Fox Searchlight’s decision to stream the first 12 minutes of his debut film, Sound of My Voice.

“Sound of My Voice” Director Reveals Thinking Behind Mysterious 12-Minute Release

There’s been a fair amount of head-scratching since Fox Searchlight posted what it calls the “first chapter” of its April 27 release, Sound of My Voice, on Thursday morning. The movie, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, followed by a buzzy screening at South by Southwest, is about a documentary filmmaking team who infiltrate a mysterious cult led by a woman named Maggie (Brit Marling, of Another Earth).

Zal Batmanglij, the first-time filmmaker who directed and cowrote Sound of My Voice with Marling, explains that the stealth online campaign is about giving people a taste of the movie and its mysterious tropes. “My dream is for somebody on the web to stumble upon this and go ‘What the fuck is this?'” he says. “And then they go see it opening weekend, before all the spoilers come out, with a group because I think it’s the kind of movie that’s most fun watched with a group.”

The 12-minute post features embedded interactive content that lets viewers click through to websites related to the film, like one for Mountain Valley Spring Water. “It’s great water,” says Batmanglij, who insists it’s no product placement. “It’s the water that Maggie drinks, because she doesn’t drink from plastic, she only drinks from glass bottles. They stockpile that water.”

Users can also post brief thoughts about the footage. “WTF” seems to be a frequent sentiment, as is “I want to see more.”

No trailer has yet been released for the film. “Go bold, or go home,” says Batmanglij of the untested marketing strategy. “I mean, who’s going to see independent films that don’t have stars in them in the theaters these days?”

Good point.

“So, we have nothing to lose.”

You can watch the 12 minutes here and follow Sound of My Voice on Twitter.

About the author

Ari Karpel is a frequent contributor to Fast Company and Co.Create and an instructor at UCLA Extension. His writing about culture, creativity and celebrity has also appeared in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Men's Health, The Advocate and Tablet.



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