• An online social film experience broadcast in eight episodes between the 25/07/2011 and the 04/08/2011.• All eight episodes were combined to form a “feature” length film which was uploaded to YouTube on the 31/08/2011.• Audience members could participate in real-time through Christina Perraso’s Facebook page, offering her advice and support on how she should proceed.• Sponsored by Intel and Toshiba, a Toshiba laptop features prominently as Christina’s only means to communicate with the outside world and to escape.
What Was The InsideExperience? Directed by DJ Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) and starring Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow, The Phantom of the Opera) the inside experience was produced to a professional standard and presented as a “social film”.“Inside is a Social Film experience brought to you by Intel andToshiba, directed by DJ Caruso, starring Emmy Rossum, andpossibly you.This is a completely new genre of Hollywood-class entertainment wherethe audience can play as much of a role as the A-list talent and actors.Using social media you can interact with characters in real time, affect theplot, and possibly earn a featured cameo alongside Emmy Rossum in thefinal film.Its the first of its kind, but it wont be the last.” (Intel and Toshiba,2011)
What Happened During the InsideExperience? As the episodes were broadcast, viewers could participate through posting on Christina Perasso’s Facebook wall or tweeting on twitter. Once broadcast, the episodes were also uploaded onto YouTube sequentially, where users could interact with the videos through the YouTube interface. A social casting call was held to cast a member of the audience in the film in a featured cameo. This involved uploading an audition video onto YouTube using one of two predetermined scripts. The Inside Experience’s community soon swelled to "50,000 audience members contributing in real time (The Inside Experience, 2011).” As well as 13,300 subscribers on YouTube (TheInsideExperience, 2011)
The Inside Experience: Online Film-making and advertising culture. The Inside Experience saw online film-making finally recognised by the Hollywood elite as a worthwhile endeavour. With the involvement of reputable figures like DJ Caruso and Emmy Rossum The Inside Experience transformed online film-making from a medium for wannabe directors to cut their teeth, into an experimental medium free from the financial demands of the Hollywood studio system.
The Inside Experience: Online Film-making and advertising culture. With the inception of YouTube and other such video hosting websites came a massive investment of both time and money in online film-making from the advertising world. Although “advermovies” had been produced before, for example the BMW films series which ran between 2001- 2002, these were almost entirely exhibited either on television or in the cinema. It was only with the developments of “web 2.0” that brought about such a massive change to advertising culture. The sheer amount of people that online video can reach in addition to the comparatively low production cost, when compared with traditional film production, proved too much of an incentive to big brands who embraced online film-making whole heartedly. From Cadbury’s charity shop online exclusive advert- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk4U2uJuFAI To Carlsberg’s quirky “bikers in cinema advert” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS3iB47nQ6E
Social Film and The InsideExperience Wikipedia described “social film” as “… a type of interactive film that is presented through the lens of social media. A social film is distributed digitally and integrates with a social networking service, such as Facebook or Google+. It combines features of web video, social games and social media” (Wikipedia, 2011). This definition seems to be referring explicitly to The Inside Experience, outlining every facet of it as a key element of “social film”. However, I find The Inside Experience to be a poor example of “social film”, In that it offers very little opportunity for participation from the audience, simply allowing them to communicate with Christina Perraso via Facebook and rewarding one audience member with a cameo role in the final film. There was no opportunity to actively affect the narrative of the film and a somewhat limited interaction with the main character.
Social Film as a concept. Outside the context of The Inside Experience, “ social film” as a concept proves difficult to define. Can it not be said that visiting the cinema to watch a film with a group of friends qualifies that film as a “social film”? To be truly social a film must offer an opportunity to participate and affect the film itself. Many projects have tried to achieve this: LonelyGirl15’s attempts to create a community created universe of stories, in which anyone can interact with the characters via chatrooms and forums and upload their own videos to expand the canon. “Him, Her and Them” offers the user a chance to interact with the film and view the film through a non-linear perspective, essentially creating their own narrative. This awards the viewer a sense of creation, as though they have helped to produce the film. Killcam Live seems to be the most comprehensive “social film” as of yet. Comprising of episodic short films to tell the story and a live stream and chat-room function to facilitate audience participation. Killcam Live also offers a polling function in which the audience can affect the plot of the feature even deciding whether a character lives or dies.
Conclusion “social film” offers the audience a chance to participate and influence what is usually a clearly defined product. However, in my opinion it is the connections that such “social films” facilitate that prove more important than the product itself, in essence it is the community’s participation that gives the film meaning. In addition, “social film” appears to be lacking in longevity. In that once there is no more opportunity for participation, the film loses all novelty and newness and transforms into an often generic film production. Finally, “social film” as a concept seems confined to the horror/thriller genre. Can such opportunities for participation and narrative alteration only be achieved within this genre? Or is this just the most appealing genre to the intended audience?
References Intel and Toshiba (2011) The inside Experience.[online]Available at http://www.theinsideexperience.com/ [Accessed 03/11/2011]. THE INSIDE EXPERIENCE (2011) The Inside Experience. [Facebook.com] 11th August Available from: http://www.facebook.com/TheInsideExperience [03/11/2011]. TheInsideExperience (2011) The Inside Experience’s YouTube channel [WWW]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheInsideExperience#p/u/1/SZI9nrqN1 1M [03/11/2011]. Wikipedia (2011) The inside Experience. [online] Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_%282011_film%29 [Accessed 03/11/2011].