The Film Industry and Crowdsourcing

Flickr image from The National Archives UK

One of the most fascinating shifts in our history is the democratization of communication and content creation. Anyone with a smartphone can make a video and capture just as many views as a blockbuster film, its trailers and ads combined. And with little to no budget ~ Part 1: The Film Industry and Social Media.

Every year, millions are spent on advertising for films. But since the onset of social media and crowdsourcing, a film’s success no longer depends on the size of the bankroll. Crowdsourcing may just be one of the most monumental shifts in the future of film and media. Because of this, the greatest resource for many filmmakers today is their community.

The Growing Role of Crowdsourcing

The old saying “if you build it, they will come” only partially applies to the movie industry today. Gone are the days when advertising and finished products were the only bridge between moviegoers and filmmakers. As films begin to incorporate crowdsourcing to fund their projects, the making-of films is becoming a collaborative, community-driven process. In fact, “if they want it, they will help you build it” has been quoted to highlight these shifts in the industry.

Crowdsourcing is fundraising accelerated by social media amplification. Given the nature of social media, people are already connecting and creating communities around similar interests – including film. Letting fans participate in the creative process, with fundraising and social media amplification, establishes a community invested in the success of independently funded films. If the funding and a marketing budget is non-existent, fans will help make it happen on crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

For example, actor James Franco recently turned to crowdsourcing to help a collection of young filmmakers raise $500,000 to adapt his short story collection, “Palo Alto.” In an article Franco wrote: “Because of who I am, people often believe that it is easy to find investors and distributors for my films. Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy.” This kind of initiative creates highly invested supporters, hype for the film and builds a community of social marketers around the film.

Creativity is King

Besides having James Franco ask for funding, how do films attract their audience’s attention? While big blockbuster films mean big budgets, smaller independent films have to rely on creative and interactive marketing to capture their audience. With the right ideas and execution, and help from social media, films on a tighter budget can stand out with innovative marketing.

Ironically, Franco recently admonished actor and director, Zach Braff, for also turning to crowdfunding to raise money for his film. As the controversy ensues, Franco said that “I’m not using my celebrity to get money for a project that I’m going to direct. This is really to give a chance to talented people that deserve it but maybe wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise.”

Here’s why Zach Braff turned to his community to fund “Wish I Was Here:”

Crowdsourcing with HootSuite

Films can use HootSuite to find and engage with influencers who can help with social media amplification. Analyzing and understanding your social audience is key to launching a successful marketing campaign. Use HootSuite to discover what content resonates best with what audience; which influencers should amplify different messages to their followings.

Check out this story of how independent film Saving Lincoln used HootSuite to build a loyal fan base and increase awareness of their film. To market themselves on a limited budget, a team of writers launched a Twitter storytelling campaign aimed at building and capturing the attention of thousands of moviegoers. “With passion and innovation, we made an epic film on an indie budget,” boasts their closing write-up on the creative funding platform, Kickstarter.