Getting the Word Out: Social Networking (original post 9/21/06)
Of all the panel discussions I've attended this week, this was the one I looked forward to the most, and the one I learned the most from. Brian Clark did a fine job of keeping the panelists on topic, and moving it along at a good pace. I'm not a fan of panels where the moderator doesn't have control of the panel, and I can't keep track of what's being talked about, and things are all over the place. This didn't happen here, but I've gone to other panels where this happens, so kudos to Brian and the panelists for making my day.
As I was typing my notes, it got me reminiscing about my pre-Myspace/blogging days. A few years ago, I was involved with an online social networking site for filmmakers called Indieclub.com, where I was the New York City group administrator. Indieclub had both an online and offline component for me. I'd go to its message board everyday and post and reply to people from all across the country about things going on in the filmmaking world. But then I'd also organize monthly Meet & Screens with the NYC members, where we'd watch each other's short films. I eventually handed over my role as group administrator to the great Christine Lynn Harvey, who took it one step further by organizing acting/writing/directing workshops at the School for Film & Television, where we'd meet monthly to workshop a scene from our screenplays, act it out on video tape, and play it back. Since those days, the IndieclubNYC group has been turned over to another fella, and I occasionally check out the message boards to see what's going on. I think since the inception of blogs & places like Myspace and IndieLOOP, I've found it more resourceful than Indieclub, but Indieclub is still a great networking site, and I recommend anyone to check it out.
The Film Panel Notetaker's Notes From…
IFP's 2006 Filmmaker Conference:
Getting the Word Out: Social Networking
September 20, 2006
S.T. VanAirsdale, The Reeler
Karina Longworth, Netscape
David Dinerstein, iklipz
Ingrid Kopp, Shooting People
Brian Clark, Publisher & Managing Member – indieWIRE/indieLOOP
Brian – What does social networking mean to large companies?
Karina – Formerly with Cinematical.com, owned by Weblogs, Inc., owned by AOL. Now with Netscape, the re-launched version. Used to be just a browser/web portal. As of July 1, it's a news portal. See what news stories your friends are interested in. Topics like health, politics, science, etc. Will eventually have larger capacity than YouTube. A viral video resource.
Brian – Talk about classic social networking.
Ingrid – Shooting People started in 1998 in UK. Had 60 filmmakers sharing info. Now over 30,00 members in US & UK. Was much more focused on making production easier. Now trying to help get members' films seen. Currently a paid membership organization. Localized in NY, UK, SF/LA. Parties for filmmakers to meet in person (offline component).
Brian – How is iklipz different than other social networking sites?
David – Have been around for a little over a month. What inspired us was going to the Sundance Film Festival. There's more people attending the fest who are there to network, than filmmakers in the fest. Industry insiders run iklipz. Trying to establish opportunity for filmmakers to get their voices heard. The problem with Myspace and similar sites is that no one from the filmmaking world pays attention to them. Recommend posting your film in iklipz instead. There's two components to iklipz- Industry side and Public side.
Brian – Talk about Quality of Life as an example of social networking promotion for a self-distributed film.
STV –Quality of Life, a self-distributed film by filmmaker Benjamin Morgan, sold out the film in April at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in New York. Based on that success, he was able to book Memorial Day weekend at Laemmle theaters in Los Angeles, but had no print advertising, and Laemmle cut back on screens. Despite no advertising, Quality of Life had 50,000 Myspace friends. Myspace gave it momentum. The Los Angeles Times was to run a story about Quality of Life, but questioned it since their own advertising model may not be good for indie filmmakers anymore.
Myspace is not enough. If your film is not good, it won't be seen. Let the market be the judge.
Brian - In terms of social networking, it's not all about big numbers, but what you do with your connections. How do you turn elbowgrease into relationships? Who are you trying to network with? Can one service scratch both issues?
Karina – One format as a go-between is blogs. Example – STV's The Reeler. Blogs are read by audiences, industry & journalists. There are many reputable and not so reputable blogs.
Ingrid – You can't be on one track as a filmmaker anymore. You need to make individual contacts. Take a hybrid approach. Example – Four-Eyed Monsters used multiple social networking platforms.
David – 5-10 years ago, we didn't have these online social networks. Example – 1995, Edward Burns called whoever he knew until he sold The Brother McMullen. Now we have opportunities to find audiences in an easier manner.
Brian – Can you use honesty as a way to network?
STV – I love movies and filmmakers period, but never pull punches. I've made enemies taking on issues, but people respect that. Everyone doesn't have to accept what I write, they can work around it. All about honest. Look at films and issues closer. Example – Hamptons International Film Festival programmer Rajendra Roy comments about personal filmmaking.
Brian – The Internet makes it easier for people to say things about other people without having to look them in their face. How do filmmakers deal with critics?
Ingrid – Shooting People makes sure there's no flaming in the bulletins. They're monitored. Established a community that trusts each other, but honesty and debate is fantastic.
David – There's nothing wrong with bad press. The web is unedited, but people are becoming more savvy. Studios have people to blog about how great their films are. If a film has a tremendous word of mouth, it doesn't matter if a critic didn't like it.
Brian – Online social networking is the next big thing. True or False?
Karina – Seems to me that this whole movement is almost over. On the brink of something else happening.
David – Disagree. Like cable TV in the 80s. iklipz trying to define itself as unique.
STV – Myspace is owned by Rupert Murdoch. It's not going anywhere.
Ingrid – People need each other to make their films. Shooting People is developing a new distribution software.
Brian – Online social networking is decentralized. Communities are not just in one city anymore. They can be anywhere. Social networking has become a replacement for the word community.
Q: What impact does social networking have on outreach & advocacy. Any successful examples?
Ingrid – It's a key aspect of Shooting People. See notes from Peter Broderick panel discussion.
Brian – Consulted on a documentary about war tapes. Mission-driven filmmakers Reached out to veterans.
Q: Karina, why do you think it's the last road for online social networks?
Karina – The Internet itself is not dying, but the buzz words like blogs, Myspace and other competitors are. Example – The lonely girl hoax. Not earning credibility with audiences.
Q: Are there opportunites for short filmmakers to get financing?
David – Used to only look at shorts about once a week to get a feel for new filmmakers. Now with iklipz, see things I might never have seen before. YouTube is not a filmmaker friendly site, but a tremendous engine.
Ingrid – Love shorts. Shooting People about to release a book about getting shorts seen.
Q: Should I update my blog daily?
Brian – It's about quality vs. quantity.
STV – I blog everyday. Sometimes 3,000 words or more. Nobody reads it all. Could find a better used of my time, but love what I do. Blogging and Myspace is very empowering.
David – Need to be passionate about it. People won't find you. You have to find them.