The business of how a movie gets made has been continually evolving ever since the first moving images were put on celluloid. For a time it was the major studios who had everyone on their payroll, from the director down to the janitor who swept the sets. Thanks to some of the maverick directors and writers in the 1960's and 70's, the business model began to change, but the studios still continued to hold the purse strings. Independent directors changed that again nearly twenty years ago, working with small budgets and creating pieces that shook the industry, but the social media necessary to promote their films wasn't there yet. It is now, and these online discussion formats don't just help other people know about a new movie. In some cases, they can help pay for the movie to be made in the first place.
Entertainment figures and social media seem to be made for each other. The advances in social media allow entertainers of every ilk to reach out directly to their fans by introducing new material or announcing upcoming live performances. Some even host interactive discussions that allow the fans to get a peek behind the curtain, if you will, and see some of the creative processes that go on when these entertainers talk about the passion and the humor they bring to what they do. While all of these advances have opened up a myriad of new distribution channels that subvert the dominant paradigm, it doesn't make the business of making a movie any less expensive. Once again, however, social media rides to the rescue.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was and continues to be the art of crowd funding. Used primarily as a way to reach out to more people than just your immediate geographical area to raise money for a charity (and in some slightly tackier ways, a wedding) it gave like-minded people the opportunity to join together for a cause. These crowd-funded activities would be discussion in open forums with real-time commentary so people could learn exactly what the charity was about and how the money would be used. This also created a new opportunity to let entertainers and their fans become even closer. By allowing their fans to become, in effect, producers for their next project, it gave them a sense of empowerment while also offering some form of tangible compensation. Setting different levels depending on how much a person put in for a project, some entertainers have gone so far as to offer private screenings, passes to opening night or even the opportunity to be part of the film. One horror film allowed its fans the chance to pay to be the victims! How far will social media and crowd funding go in the entertainment world? Perhaps all the way to Hollywood and the words "And the Oscar goes to…"
Jack Terry is a freelance writer and blogger who is a firm believer that social media and open forums such as http://www.tawkers.com could change the world.