How did social media change movie making?

Found a really interesting article on movie making today in my friend Matildas twitter feed. It is an interview in Mashable with the indie movie maker Edwards Burns.

The areas that caught my interest are the how the casting, distribution and marketing are done today. We have already seen this development in a lot of other markets too but what interests me is how this way of making films exists simultaneously with the old fashion big budget way. It is the same in all old markets – you have the traditional way and the cutting edge digital way and it is interesting to compare both.

With the help of YouTube, actors today have a very simple channel to show their work and present themselves to filmmakers. This way of applying for a job has for a long time also been popular in many other industries, for example people working with service or like me in advertising. Of corse this increases the competition between actors but as we have seen during the past years anyone have a chance of becoming a star on YouTube.

While I was working at MTG with their online streaming service Viaplay we spent a lot of time thinking about how to handle the customers expectations of having movies recently released on cinemas and iTunes also available through Viaplay. Today the path for the release of a new film is to first be available on cinemas, second for renting and buying and third the movie will be available through television. Since Viaplay is primarily a television channel and secondary a rental store we had to wait for a long time before we could provide new movies. After years of illegal downloading people have gotten used to having new movies available at home at the same time as they go up on cinema and we spent a lot of time thinking about how to communicate this to the users.

When Burns latest film Newlyweds was released the initial distribution channels where primarily digital for home watching (iTunes, VOD and Vudu) and it only went up in a few small movie theaters. By skipping the traditional pattern for releasing a film he not only avoided the big marketing costs that are needed to ensure a big number of visitors at the cinemas, but also prevented the fans from downloading the movie illegal in lack of legal options. Indie producers can choose how they want to release their material and I think that the bigger production companies will change their behavior too in the near future.

Of course it helps to already be famous to be able to throw a successful marketing campaign on Twitter, like the one Conan O’Brien managed to pull off after being banned from television. But by engaging in the conversation with the movie fans online by listening and giving them relevant reasons to talk about your movie anyone can succeed in marketing their movie. People interested in movies are often very interested in the production of the movies and they love to be the first ones to know about a good indie production. To connect with the heavy fans is crucial since these are the ones that can help you to spread your content to the others. Burns managed to connect with 5000 fans on Twitter, and by giving them insights into the production, engage in conversations with them and ask them to contribute with content he managed to build a buzz that made his film Newlyweds reach the top six in iTunes when it was released.

I guess what we are waiting for now is to see movies released on YouTube where we can watch them together with our friends in Google+ Hangout. Think we are there soon!

I really admire people who can change the behavior of a traditional existing market and adapt to the new opportunities that the digital landscape offer. It is easy to follow an already existing path but to create a new one takes a lot of curiosity and guts. The web is still changing a lot and it is important to remember that everyday we have a chance of shaping it and the way we use it.

To choose to shoot a film with a certain camera is a marketing trick that has proven to be very effective to catch the attention of the movie nerds.