"Joneses" director keeps up with marketing tactics

Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:04am EDT
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By Martin A. Grove

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In our marketing-driven culture, things aren't always what they seem.

Picking up on that idea was enough to propel Derrick Borte from 20 years of making commercials to writing and directing his first feature, "The Joneses," which stars Demi Moore and David Duchovny and just premiered at Toronto.

From watching a TV news report about stealth marketing, he learned that "companies were sending models into nightclubs to order a certain drink over and over and over again." Suddenly, other people around them would start ordering the very same drink.

Or people went to a tourist destination and asked someone to take their picture with a fancy new camera. "Inevitably, people would ask about the camera and when they described it, sales of that camera would go up."

That's when the light bulb went on for Borte: "I thought about what would happen if you took this to its inevitable conclusion of placing a fake family into a neighborhood." They'd be the Joneses that everybody wants to keep up with.

"I had been directing commercials for a long time and wanting to get into the feature world," he said. "I knew the only way that was going to happen was if I had material that would give me some leverage."

The film he wrote to get there, Borte said, is "a dark comedy with some social commentary satire and a love story."

The story: "This perfect family moves into this perfect McMansion neighborhood and they've got the best of everything. They immediately develop a following of people who want to emulate them and begin buying the same things that they have. Then we find out that all is not as it seems in the Joneses' household."   Continued...