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Indie Film 2.0 – How Social Media is Empowering Independent Filmmakers

Since I work in social media, I can't help but feel that it's transforming everything. Everything.  (OK, well, maybe not Tom Waits.) But, really, isn't it?  It's certainly changing the world of filmmaking.

I'm passionate about movies, both watching and participating.  But the "traditional" system is quite flawed.  From an audience perspective, there is a hunger to view content they can truly relate to.  From the artists' perspective, they want more control surrounding the content they create – from how they tell the story to the rights they have to them.  

I am excited by the prospect of social media (and good old gumption) helping to release filmmakers from the binds of the traditional systems, including the necessity of a theatrical release and the pressure to be appealing to a broad audience. 

I am particularly inspired by the work of filmmakers like Arin Crumley and Susan Buice ("Four Eyed Monsters"), Lance Weiler ("Head Trauma") MdotStrange ("We are the Strange" Skot and Ryan Leach ("Lost Zombies") and many others who are not only taking control of their film's direction but are contributing to the greater discourse.  And most notably, helping to educate other artists about how to make the technology work for them.

These filmmakers are creating a life and interest for their films pre-release (and post).  They are building and connecting with their audience and even enlisting their support. And they are making their content even more engaging.

"I believe the Internet has created a kind of
conversation that we are all involved with. We‘ve gotten used to that
level of interaction. It‘s rewarding. Now we want that experience from
our media.”  – Lance Weiler. From Filmmaker Magazine: "When The Audience Takes Control."

Here are just a few things they're doing:

  • Cross-Platform Storytelling. Allowing the story's character(s) to live in other platforms before the
    film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the
    character a larger/broader life – and helps with publicity.
  • Getting their fans to promote These interactions are done in an organic way – people who are interested in the content are naturally inclined to promote it.  Instead of manipulating people to work with them, they are working with the very people who would be most helpful.
  • Asking people to finance or contribute content.  From asking people to fund a film or send in media, filmmakers are giving the audience a piece of the pie, and are richer for it.

Certainly, social media interaction requires a great deal of time, work and effort. As does the creation of  supplementary material.  But it's a fair trade when the benefit is the ability to maintain control over your film – and, potentially, career.



Check out these sites for further information about independent
film/storytelling and technology.

Photo credit: FAIT – movie set by James Willamour


  1. James McNally
    James McNally March 11, 2009

    I think the DIY approach to marketing works really well for these filmmakers because young online audiences love the idea of people actually making things instead of waiting for approval from some larger entity. It’s the same way blogs began as a form of self-publishing, so there’s a lot of synergy.
    I’m off to SXSW tomorrow where the Interactive and Film conferences have been cuddling closer every year. Can’t wait to hear more about how social media and filmmaking are working together.

  2. Nadia Nascimento
    Nadia Nascimento April 6, 2009

    Great thoughts- Indeed, elevating and sharing the arts is yet another expression of the power of the social web.
    Experiential Marketing and IRL character exploration is stepping into another dimension of experience, as is the remix culture who exemplifies the needs to collaborate in order to enrich and generate culture. What is most inspiring is the tools that are being created around this movement effecting its proliferation and inspiring its continuation.

  3. DaveO
    DaveO April 22, 2009

    Another tip for filmmakers is finding sites which allow producers to promote their work to audiences by publishing B-roll, outtakes, interviews, posters, stills etc.
    Free and cheap options abound and can be much easier than building up your own page/traffic/audience.

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