The Film Business

What Social Media Really Means To The Film Industry


How the film industry has changed due to social media

Photo by Adam Freeman

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 registered the URL at a website called 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.

Related posts:

   Don said on March 30, 2011 at 5:38 am

Social media will mean nothing once people figure out that Twitter followers and Facebook likes are manipulated and bought. The filmmakers who have done it and are doing it now are going to look like shit in the future. Article in my opinion is superficial, I would suggest Elliot improves his Film Festival because it’s not doing anything new and the first and only film I ever submitted was never even watched by the look of things/ responses I didn’t get from the festival that seems to be a bit of a scam as well.

   Ant C said on March 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Hmm. I was hoping for an informative, illuminating article on how filmmakers could best make use of social media, perhaps some key examples, case studies, links, anything really…
Is the real article hidden somewhere on this page like an easter egg?
Just a few paragraphs stating that social media is important seems kinda redundant. I’ll go back to the blogs of Ted Hope and Stacey Parks.

   Elliot Grove said on April 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Hola Don and Ant C!
Thanks for your comments

To Don: The festival programmers at Raindance would be pretty bummed out about your comment – as they do indeed watch every single of the 600,000 minutes of material submitted annually. You shouldn’t take the fact that your film wasn’t screened at Raindance personally – decisions by festival programmers the world over are subjective and can be pretty much ignored – although I know (from 1st hand experience) how it can disappoint.

And to Ant C: is a great website. The purpose of these article is to somehow monetise the hundreds and even thousands of hours the authors have spent researching these works. I think it a bit cheeky of you to expect to be spoonfed. But if you must – look at some of the social media campaigns being waged by Dogwoof in the UK – Even Ted and Stacey admire them!

Have a great Easter
from sunny, balmy and hazy London Town
Elliot Grove
Founder of Raindance Film Festival

   Martin W said on April 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Gentlemen – it’s an ARTICLE not a tutorial. It expresses the view of the author and is open to interpretation. Take from it what you will but I found the three paragraphs dealing with traditions that will be broken to be interesting and food for thought.

Hell, I might even go and research it further and draw my own conclusions……

   Pilli Cortese said on April 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

I agree with you Martin, this is not meant to be a tutorial, however gentlemen if you wish to know more, I remember Elliot giving practical examples of how to use social media in one of the 99min Raindance courses, he was giving key examples of how to master the use of social media…not everything can be explained in an article, sometimes you need also to do an effort to discover more…and …just an advice> it is never a good idea to complain if your film didn’ t make it to the festival.

Happy Easter to everybody and happy Film Making!
Pilli Cortese
Director @ Wo-ho!Films

   Elaine said on February 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the
blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.

A must read post!

Tell us what you think!

Latest Tweets

Stay Informed

Click here to register with Focal Press to receive updates.

about MasteringFilm

MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.