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Paradigm Shift for Filmmakers-Binger Filmlab

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This presentation was given at Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam June 2013. For those working in media (not just filmmaking), an understanding of how audiences are consuming media and communicating with the ...

This presentation was given at Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam June 2013. For those working in media (not just filmmaking), an understanding of how audiences are consuming media and communicating with the creators is essential. Going forward, creators cannot stay behind the scenes. Everyone is audience-facing and knowing how to interact online is helpful to your work and your career.

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  • This is the mindset I want you to think with today. Much of what I might say you may not feel is applicable to you because European filmmakers have enjoyed a different way of getting their films funded and made. While I am from the US and much of what I might say are things that have been happening in the US during the last 3 years, I assure you that these changes are coming for you here too and I am trying to prepare you for them. Also some of what I might say you may think is only applicable to directors or producers, but in this era of social media communication, we are all audience facing. Working in a behind the scenes job does not mean that you won’t need to market yourself or your work.
  • Before 8 years ago, filmed entertainment looked like this. Cinema entertainment and home video which consisted of broadcast or physical media. It was controlled territorially, by format and by companies. We had little control over when we watched so our lives had to adjust to a schedule set by a theater or broadcaster or we had to wait until the film was available in a format we could buy. It was a passive experience, we sat in front of a screen and took in only what was given to us.
  • Entertainment today is increasingly mobile, interactive, controlled by the viewer in when and where they watch and has a global reach. The reach is less controlled by corporations, but by individual viewers who are motivated to share. They share their programs, their opinions and recommendations, even their personal data. The answer to “what’s on TV tonight” is answered by “whatever I put there” as a result of DVR’s and the binge viewing found on Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube. We have become our own programmers and this will continue to have repercussions for broadcasters and cinema owners and rights holders because they are no longer in complete control. In a whitepaper released by Google, they cited about 61% of ticket buyers consult online resources — averaging about 13 sources — before deciding on what films to see. And searches for movie info including trailers jumped 56% from 2011 to 2012 Another phenomenon, second screening, or using an additional electronic device while watching television is very new. 70% of tablet owners, and 68% of smartphone owners, state that they use their additional devices while watching TV. How long until it isn’t only TV programs?
  • consumers abandon the need for owning physical copies of film when they can easily rent for much lower costs, revenue streams that once supported a large industry infrastructure are going to be decreasing. This has repercussions for us all. The industry as we know it now will be shrinking
  •   Nielsen reported there are now over 5 million cord cutters in the U.S., up from 3 million in 2007. In these “zero tv” households, almost half were under the age of 45. As the older generations leave the market, the power will be in the hands of this new crowd and they might not really care for TV like their parents did. So how does this affect sales of your film? Will broadcast still be a revenue stream? How would a restructuring of a broadcaster affect funding for film production?
  • The UK prime minister is encouraging funding bodies to support mainly projects with mainstream appeal and to support established filmmakers over unproven ones. Film funds across Europe are worried about the affects of the digital distribution windows and how they cut into theatrical, at the same time wanting to discourage piracy, but spread cultural films across the world. Austrian broadcast ORF could slash funding for Austrian productions by up to 30 percent next year. Films such as Michael Haneke’s Amour and White Ribbon receive large amounts of financing from ORF. Such a budget gap will mean across the board cuts, including in drama and feature film production.
  • But another infrastructure will rise up to take its place..it will just take a little while and you as creators must be prepared to adapt to what it will be These are statistics from the Cisco Visual Networking Index report 2011-2016 show: The number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly three times as high as the global population in 2016. Many of these will be mobile phones, smart TVs and tablets. With this in mind, how will it change your artistic work? When interaction is expected instead of passive viewing, how will your work provide it? When people are watching on small screens and likely NOT for 90 minutes or even for 30 minutes, the whole idea of what a film is or what a TV program is will have to change. What will pull an audience to YOUR work? To be found in this deluge of content, one must have an identifiable brand and make sure they are looking for YOU, not just looking for video. This goes for the artist, as well as the artistic partners which are today’s content distributors; channels, studios, cinemas.
  • My objective today is to encourage you to view yourselves and your audience in a way that is conducive to the digital tools we now have available to us all. I would like to do away with the practice of hiding behind projects, creating in secret and discarding the audience after a film has run through its release windows.
  • It is no longer acceptable to stay in an artistic bubble of introspection and creation and leave the work of audience connection and distribution to others. The audience is growing used to expecting access on a near constant basis with brands. If you are an artist, you are a brand and your brand needs to be more than a logo, it has to be a personality, it has to show the world what you believe. While some artists are still in a bubble, artists like Amanda Palmer freely move about in their fan base, they are accessible, they interact on a daily basis with their fans.
  • the basic challenge facing most independent film and artists: obscurity and the way to combat that is a direct connection with audiences by the artist and by companies. The days of viewing your audience as some abstract entity or eyeballs with wallets are over and the days of thinking that all you have to do is make great work and it will just be found are over. Artists need to start cultivating their own audiences for a sustainable living. Many of you in this room have been to pitching sessions for financing or for distribution of your work. Your leverage will not only entail the strength of the work, but also the audience you yourselves bring to a partnership. Celebrity actors have been trading on this leverage for years, in fact, so dependent are they on media attention to raise their profile that one misstep on a project or in their personal life can bring them down from the pedestal very quickly. Building up your connections exclusively through other entities leaves you vulnerable. The promise of the internet is really in its ability to connect people. It used to entail going through centralized entities to reach an audience, now the tools are available to everyone. If you are using it just to blast, you have misunderstood its power.
  • This is the mindset we have been used to. Our businesses and ourselves have operated mostly away from the public, hidden behind a logo. We listened to selective voices and we allowed only a selective group inside. We controlled all access in how our work was seen, experienced and who could talk about it or share it. This is NOT the world we live in any longer.
  • We need to open ourselves up to meeting all kinds of people and listening to all kinds of voices. Openness helps us grow. Be Open in accepting that this change in how people communicate has already happened, no matter how much you wish it hadn’t or how much you think it is just a phase. Accept Random information. There is an endless supply of information streaming at us everyday and the answer is not to cut it off. Learning to filter the noise and listen to the random as well as the relevant is becoming a human tool that we will need in order to evolve and survive. Our children are already learning to do this, we need to catch up. Be Supportive. The Internet operates best in an open environment where sharing information, educating people, and working with a large number of connections breeds success. Rather than thinking from greed and competition, think about how much faster you can grow your success by helping others instead of only figuring out how to take from them.
  • Too often the approach creators take to this new online communication is I just want to promote and be promoted. But the rules here are different than advertising. People don’t talk about things just because you want them to. Understand that this world is NOT all about YOU. I hope that all of you believe you have a unique and personal vision that you are bringing to your work. This makes you remarkable. Remarkable meaning worth talking about. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am a great admirer of Seth Godin. He wrote a book called Purple Cow. Average cows aren’t worth talking about, they aren’t remarkable. To be worth talking about, you have to be something other people aren’t. You want to be the Purple cow in a sea of average cows. All of you here have the capacity to do something remarkable, all of you here have unique points of view or ways of looking at the world and you are used to expressing those through your work. Keep doing that, but add in this new extension of yourself, an online extension that doesn’t take 3 years to create. You can share your unique vision with the world every day. It just takes getting used to doing it.
  • It’s a dialogue not monologue. This is the main difference between advertising and social media. Advertising is one way communication, there is no feedback required or wanted in advertising. In the social space, everything is feedback. We are all creators and publishers now with the ability to reach globally. The back and forth is essential in this form of communication and if you aren’t willing to participate, you will find very limited success with it. There needs to be a certain generosity of spirit in order to participate here. You are all storytellers and presumably you want your stories to have impact with people so you should take to this form of communication easily, it is about interacting with those most likely to love your work and your point of view, not simply a tool to push a message. Sharing is the name of the game. I don’t mean all of your personal secrets, believe me we don’t care what you are having for breakfast! Share things that are meaningful to you in your professional life and share things that are meaningful to the audience. I am sure you do this in your real life every day, and that same mentality should be in this space.
  • Most of modern Hollywood is part of a corporate culture that became removed from society and the larger culture in which they operate. The executives lived and worked within extremely narrow circles and often have very limited direct contact with the rest of the human race. They have reached an audience only through media manipulation and advertising. This mindset needs to give way to how the rest of the world is learning to communicate, in an almost face to face manner but on a global scale. See the social space as a giant cocktail party, you don’t want to be THAT PERSON who is always dropping names and talking about how great you are. No one likes that person. Instead of saying how awesome YOU are, think about how to help people see or make them feel how awesome THEY are. Create an atmosphere where like minded people gather to share ideas, conversation and support each other. Place the fans in the center of the creator’s storyworld and endeavor to keep them there, they aren’t a disposable commodity.
  • I worked with producer Judy Avrin and her team to develop an online audience building strategy and position the film as an authentic voice by someone who has lived with bulimia. Judy has become a public advocate for parents trying to cope with bulimia in their families. The Someday Melissa team have done a spectacular job to become the central place the film’s audience comes to for support and understanding. She has viewed this endeavor as a long term plan. No distributor was interested in the film and it played very few festivals. But it has had close to 80 screenings of the film purely through grassroots outreach. These are paid license fee screenings, not conventional theatrical. Judy owns her film 100% and receives immediate revenue from its sale. She also receives speaking fees for her attendance at screenings and conferences on eating disorders. Their blog recently was recognized to be among the top 25 Eating Disorder blogs by Eating Disorder Hope organization. The blog has only been in existence since 2011.
  • Director Ava Duvernay founded an organization called the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement that serves as a theatrical distribution mechanism for black cinema in the US, an underserved market and one in which black filmmakers could not find meaningful outlets for their work. Duvernay has cultivated an army of volunteers (about 500) across the US to help promote each film the organization releases in their market, they are very active online and she uses her website to highlight the voices of those working in black cinema. She won the Best Director Award at Sundance 2012 for her film Middle of Nowhere , which was released theatrically in over 20 US cities, and that award made her the first black female director ever to receive it at Sundance. Hollywood director Ron Howard uses Twitter daily to share photos he takes on set, in the office, while he is out. He has said “people who don't embrace social media are kind of not paying attention because when you look at the Internet, you’re looking at the democratization of creativity — look what people are capable of creating! It is really inspiring.” But directors are not the only people using social channels… Art of the Guillotine is an online site for film editors and post production people. It features audio podcasts, a Vimeo channel and in person networking events for those working in post production. UK based cinematographer Philip Bloom has created a well read site with forums, a blog, equipment reviews and demonstrations on anything related to digital cinematography. As he states on his site “My site has also gone from becoming a place to showcase my work to a place for people to learn and share. There is a wealth of information on my site for both the seasoned and junior film maker and I hope you find it useful. We all need as much help as we can get to make it these days and I hope I can help.” THAT’S the spirit needed in this space, not simply a place to promote yourself and your projects! Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin create a weekly podcast to share information and experiences on scriptwriting in Hollywood. Between them they have more than 10 Hollywood produced films including Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and The Hangover as well as TV shows. August also has a very well regarded personal blog where he answers questions and covers topics of interest to movie buffs and screenwriters. Very little of his time is devoted to pushing his projects.
  • There have been some pretty high profile stories of people or companies either failing to engage personally or doing it with blatantly personal motives. The fashion house Marc Jacobs entrusted their Twitter feed to a young intern who went on a tear just before he quit. The producer behind the film American Reunion used the film’s Facebook page to pressure fans to “get the opening weekend to $50mil”, clearly it was his first time to ever speak to fans on the page and the backlash was pretty epic. Fans aren’t concerned about making you a multimillionaire and they don’t like to be pressured into doing that. Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark recently emailed loyal customers to say it was lowering its proof to 84, or 42% alcohol to address a supply shortage driven by bourbon’s surging popularity in the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan.  The reversal speaks to how brands often misjudge their relationship with customers, who can now vote more powerfully with their Twitter accounts than with their wallets. Fashion brand Kenneth Cole used the Cairo uprising to promote their spring fashion collection, which garnered a lot of negative press The bottom line to all of this is an understanding that these are not tools to be taken lightly. Real people read what you post and they have the power to instantly respond. Respect them, don’t use these tools only to promote your message.
  • Actor/Writer/Director Edward Burns credits Twitter with fundamentally changing the way he makes films. Since joining Twitter, Burns has found numerous opportunities to answer questions from fans, share insights about his filmmaking process and promote his projects. He is now including fans in the production of his new film in January by asking for filming location suggestions, casting his Twitter followers in small parts and opening up for small suggestions on the script and title of the project. Play youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXdb5W8-G70
  • Some of the benefits of cultivating an audience-crowdfunding Receiving financial support through the artist’s network of audience connections has become achievable with higher amounts being raised every month. New tools devoted to cutting out the middlemen and creators-supporters and projects-communities together directly with one another. They don’t work if you don’t have an identifiable brand or some core audience support. As of April 2012, 452 crowdfunding platforms were operating globally
  • Youtube personality Freddie Wong has been building his audience on the site for over 6 years. He now has over 4.7 million subscribers. He successfully crowdfunded his series Video Game High School for a second time on Kickstarter, breaking the record for the amount raised by a film at the time. Note the number of backers to his campaign versus number of subscribers on his channel…you will find that a very small percentage of the audience you reach will actually turn into paying supporters.
  • Now some industry players are entering the space in an effort to prove that there is audience for their independent projects. Veronica Mars was a TV show that ran from 2004 to 2007 when it was cancelled. The showrunner had tried multiple times to get a feature film off the ground when the team decided to turn to Kickstarter. They had to get permission from Warner Bros TV to fundraise and the condition of the film being green lit was full funding of the production budget. Zach Braff has similarly tried to find financing for his indie follow up to Garden State for close to a decade. As a result of the publicity and raising over his goal in just 30 days (as opposed to 10 years!), he was able to get foreign presales to cover $5.5 million budget. Normally this would mean quantifiable box office stars to make the numbers work,but transformed into one costing less than half that amount and with a cast of characters played by actors Kate Hudson, Anna Kendrick, Josh Gad and Mandy Patinkin that could be chosen on creative grounds, rather than their overseas economic values. Both campaigns raised their funding in less than one month, rather than years. Ultimately, this is about real creative control!
  • Increasingly audiences like to participate in more ways than financially in a production. This can be beneficial to you if you have that kind of connection. -Crowdsourcing is a way for them to do this. Iron Sky used Wreck a Movie to take submissions of artwork and video effects from their fans. Ridley Scott’s Life in a Day film took in over 80,000 submissions of video clips from over 192 countries all from capturing daily life on July 24, 2010. Star Wars Uncut is a shot for shot recreation of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Fans sent in 15 second increments of recreated scenes from the original film each in its own style such as live action, animation, stop motion and also fans voted on the best scene submissions. The entire film was put online for free Dutch director Paul Verhoeven used crowdsourcing via a project called the Entertainment Experience to make ‘Tricked’ the first user generated movie, which launched at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival Market. Verhoeven worked with a small group of contributors for over a year to determine the direction his script would take. The project was funded by Ziggo, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands. These initiatives all tap into the audience’s new found desire to not just be passive viewers of the work they watch, but actually participate in its creation. The benefit to the filmmaker is an audience who feels a vested interest in seeing it succeed, and a dialog with them.
  • Entertainment Experience was launched in 2011 when Hollywood director Paul Verhoeven called on the public to help him make a film. After the release of the first three minutes of the script, the Dutch public had the opportunity to continue the writing process. 9,500 hours of video material was submitted to the Entertainment Experience website and over 36,000 people followed the project and contributed to the user generated and user inspired version of Tricked. The Entertainment Experience won a digital Emmy this year and it will next launch in China. The initial cost of investment in the platform was $4million USD
  • Audiences are now making choices on which films come to the cinema in their cities. This is beneficial to you because you can gauge theatrical demand for your film without having to commit large sums in a theatrical tour that may not recoup. Tugg is one such service in the US, We Want Cinema has just started with the same kind of model in the Netherlands. The documentary Bully used Eventful to ask US audiences to demand a screening, but has since moved to using Tugg.
  • Why should you use social channels for professional reasons? Many media companies in the US are looking to partner with successful Youtube stars and Youtube channels in order to expand their brands. Dreamworks just signed a partnership deal with Awesomeness TV, a Youtube channel, for a reported $117mil Grumpy Cat™ is a picture of a white and brown cat with a grumpy expression that was posted on Reddit in September 2012 and subsequently went viral as a meme. Her owners were swift to monetize her surprising popularity, posting videos of her on Youtube, signing an advertising deal with Purina to have Grumpy Cat™ appear in  Friskies adverts , and setting up an  online shop  where visitors can buy T-shirts, mugs, magnets, calendars and even the Official Grumpy Cat™ Book. Fede Alvarex, a filmmaker from Uruguay, whose low-budget alien invasion short became a viral video hit, has landed a $30-million US movie deal in Hollywood. His short film  Ataque de Panico (Panic Attack) onto video-sharing website YouTube registering more than 1.5 million views
  • New forms of storytelling are now emerging. Transmedia is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. It also means that filmmakers need to be versed in a variety of skills, not just storytelling, and that stories will need a new architecture designed from development. Beat Girl is a European example of a project that created a book, game, web series and a movie release. It is a story of a young girl, who finds herself trying to balance a potential classical music career against one in the world of electronic dance music. The Spiral was coproduced by 7 broadcasters, including support from the Dutch Film Fund. It was a  five-episode participative TV series broadcast in September 2012 across Europe reaching more than 2,5M viewers. It also comprised "Live Action Role-Playing“ game, a webseries, Facebook and Twitter channels,
  • Businesses of all kinds are increasingly understanding and unlocking the power video for their marketing strategies. Social video marketing is a trend that is going to continue to rise in popularity and what will be needed are those skilled at storytelling, not those who write good marketing copy. A Greek example is Love in the End, a 90 minute feature film for chocolate brand Lacta. Released on Valentine’s Day in Greece last year, selling 75% of the cinema tickets on that night and bringing in over $1mil. Italian fashion brand Miu Miu has released a string of short films under its The Women's Tales series -- a project of commissioned works from renowned female directors across the globe, which also artistically highlight some of the brand's clothing collection. US director Ava Duvernay wrote and directed one of the shorts entitled The Door. Nowhere does it mention the name of the brand in the film, but the actresses all wore clothing from the collection.
  • You are now responsible for your own success and it is more than possible to get started from wherever you live and with all of the digital tools available. Stop waiting for someone in the industry or the film funds or film school to pick you. Once you start and accomplish some milestones on your own, the industry will find you

Paradigm Shift for Filmmakers-Binger Filmlab Paradigm Shift for Filmmakers-Binger Filmlab Presentation Transcript

  • The Paradigm Shift for CreatorsSheri CandlerDirector of Digital Marketing StrategyThe Film CollaborativeSheri@thefilmcollaborative.org@filmcollab, @shericandlerwww.thefilmcollaborative.org
  • It wasn’t raining when Noah built theIt wasn’t raining when Noah built theArkArk
  • Entertainment viewing choices ofyesterday
  • Entertainment of today
  • Digital Disruption
  • Nielsen TV Survey 2013
  • European funding is under scrutiny orshrinking
  • Global broadband growthIn 2016, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will crossGlobal IP networks every 3 minutes. This equates to more than38 million DVDs streamed in an hour.
  • Artist as entrepreneur
  • The end of the artistic bubble
  • Obscurity is your enemyObscurity is your enemy
  • ClosedSelectiveControlling
  • OpenRandomSupportive
  • How do I connect with my audience?Be remarkable
  • XHow do I connect with my audience?Be Social
  • How do I connect with my audience?Be generous• Self promotion is about helping OTHERS• Create a “must visit” space• Exist to create connections
  • Examples
  • Examples
  • Don’t underestimate these tools
  • Actor/Writer/Director Edward Burns
  • Break
  • Audience + donation=Crowdfunding
  • Industry crowdfunding
  • Crowdsourcing
  • The Entertainment Experience
  • Screening Requests
  • Career opportunities
  • Transmedia
  • Storytelling for other industries
  • YOU are the industry