Inside Move: Bandstanding

Web wizardry works wonders for Wilco doc

Makers of a doc about alt-country band Wilco didn’t start out using “The Blair Witch Project” as a model for getting their project sold, but that’s how it worked out.

When director Sam Jones and co-producer Peter Abraham of Fusion Films started filming “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” last year, the $500,000 project had no distribution.

To gin up fan interest, Jones and Abraham posted outtakes at www.wilcofilm.com, helped by Apple Computer’s offer to host the site as a showcase of its Quicktime technology.

“We figured maybe we could sell a few T-shirts and help finance the film,” Abraham says.

But the site ended up being much more lucrative. It attracted the attention of a diehard Wilco fan at New York-based Plexifilm, whose Gary Hustwit came on as co-producer and agreed to distribute the film both theatrically and on DVD. The movie will come out after this April’s release of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” album and a tour. The trio also plans to screen the film on college campuses next fall, and put screening schedules and outtakes on the site.

“I think it tapped into the fan base even more than we expected,” Abraham says. “We got emails from (fans in) Norway and Japan right off the bat, from many film festivals. It was a good test of how the film will do.”

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