What Social Media Really Means To The Film Industry
By Elliot Grove
Valentine’s Day 2005 was a momentous day in the history of cinema – a date overlooked by the moguls of Hollywood and the learned film scholars. It was the day that the three co-founders of Youtube.com registered the URL at a website called whois.com. The launch of this social media website itself took a further six to eight months, and with it, YouTube has helped change the face of movie distribution.
Social media has changed three main areas of the film industry. These changes are not evolutionary, but revolutionary, and are affecting movies and the way they are made and seen in a way more dramatic than the introduction of sound to movies.
Filmmaking is a collaborative art form. This will not ever change. What social media has changed is the way collaboration has shifted from collaboration solely during the production process to collaboration between storytellers, filmmakers and audiences. The shift will have seismic effects on the filmmaking industry and the traditions we have inherited, and will create a new order where the film traditions will no longer work.
The first tradition to be blown to smithereens will be the distinction between art and commerce. No longer will the money-driven Hollywood moguls be able to define the so-called creative process by using money as the metrics and defining creativity as an unholy blend of launch date, metrics and finance. Even new filmmakers get sucked into the financial whirlpools of the major festivals like Toronto, Sundance and Cannes. Filmmakers and decision makers in the future will fall into two camps: those who loathe and abhor social media, and those who embrace it.
Second to fall, and to fall hard, is the traditional barrier between audiences and marketing men and women. Until now, a marketer could surmount this wall and reach an audience, but only if there was a huge sum of money. The new digital age means that filmmakers can now market directly to their audience for a fraction of the traditional cost. The ability of emerging filmmakers to understand this and utilize the new marketing approaches will define the careers of filmmakers in the next thirty years.
The last tradition to fall will be the structures surrounding scripts and story development. Because filmmakers of today and tomorrow can engage directly with the audience, it suggests that the audience will become an important part of the script and story development process from the start of a project. By taking elements of gaming storytelling, filmmakers of the future will be able to create stories that weave multi-layered story layers with a story experience that might include apps, websites as well as other on-line experiences with the traditional off-line cinema experience.
Where does this leave new filmmakers?
New filmmakers will embrace and utilize the merits of social media. They will consider themselves visual communicators using a host of storytelling techniques.Their movies will straddle the barrier between filmmaker and audience. In this new digital age, the opportunities for art and commerce to co-exist in a new format will excite and inspire filmmaker in this new age of social media. Those who refuse to adapt to the new social media structures will wither and disappear.