Posts filed under ‘Web 2.0’
When I first started this blog (at the end of 2007), I posted the (creatively and originally titled) post: “My Views on Social Networking“.
“On a large scale, social networking truly fulfills the role that our old (read: non-virtual) communities used to prove. This has sorely been lacking for most of us. Now we are only several connections away from others, only a few friends away from a new friend. Here we offer assistance to each other and ask for help. We are kept posted of occurrences within our social circle, to what are friends are doing or concerned about, today. Of what events they are attending. Here the town crier is Facebook, shouting out to us about the many parties we can attend, things we can do. As a “Wired” article summed-up the phenomenon that is Twitter: “That tactile sense of your community is simply too much fun, too useful” (Clive Thompson, “How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense”).
That this evolution has also tremendously affected how we communicate with each other online, even in a business context, is clear by this point. And it has changed how much of ourselves we display to others, even if we have a possible business agenda to our online presence.
In February I moderated the very cool panel discussion about who you are online (photo here ). All the women on the panel (Jenn Lowther, Rebecca Bollwitt, Linda Bustos and Nadia Nascimento) were web savvy (understatement), and, as such, had a strong awareness of the public nature of communicating online. They were very strategic about their line between public and private, establishing those boundaries and the nature of how they presented themselves. That said, what we were comfortable posting about was quite varied.
This morning, I was talking to my boyfriend about Twitter and remarked that he’s been online for a few months, he has a clearer idea of how he wishes to communicate (or, to be artistic here, he understands his online “voice”). It’s something that I have to remember to make clear in an upcoming presentation, that this understanding of “who you are online – be it on Twitter, Facebook, a Blog etc. – does not come immediately. And it takes some playing around and trial and error for most to figure out what they are comfortable with and what works for them or their business or organization.
When I first started to blog, it was on my humor blog – and actually didn’t realize that that would be the theme of my blog. In fact, the first few posts were random essays and rants. I only discovered what I would be motivated to post about (i.e. absurdities) after a month or two.
There were also other discoveries – such as after a week or two on Twitter, I realized that I wasn’t too keen on posting about what I was doing- and made the executive decision that no one would be the least bit interested. Like most, I am not exciting 24hrs a day. Sure, 5-7 times a day, I’m entertaining. And if that’s all I tweet, I’m golden. Posting more often, or potentially a log of everything I was doing, would break that illusion (e.g. 6am: “Working on the computer, as you can ascertain”, 8am: “Time to eat” 10am: “Still working on the computer, now at a coffee shop”, 6pm “Time to eat 7pm: “Back to working on computer again”).
So my succinct advice about authenticity online would be: “be real, but like, better.”
I’m very excited to be working on social media promotion for Vancouver Digital Week!
One of the reason I’m jazzed about this series is because I loved last year’s Convergence and Vidfest. I was particularly impressed with James McCraken‘s talk as well as the one on Alternate Reality Games from 42 Entertainment. I love events that allow for the soaking up of information and siphoning off great minds – and there was no shortage of that last year. It looks like this year will be pretty formidable as well.
What is Vancouver Digital Week?
(Yes, I will be asking and answering my own questions, btw – just like that self-important guy you met last week.)
Vancouver Digital Week, which runs from May 11 – 14, 2009 (mostly at the Vancouver Exhibition and Convention Centre – West – i.e. the new one at 1055 Canada Place), is a series of digital media events for people involved in, or interested in, the following industries:
- games and digital entertainment
- social media
- interactive design, animation and VFX
It includes international business match-making, big picture conference sessions, high-level seminars and workshops, as well as loads of networking parties.
You can register for an event by going to the particular event site (see below).
What events are part of Vancouver Digital Week?
(Click on the photo to see notes – including dates and websites)
What’s especially cool about this event?
I’m glad you asked!
- DAVID PLOUFFE, Campaign Manager, Obama for America will be the keynote speaker at Convergence.
- There’s a 2-day Game Developers conference
- nextMEDIA Vancouver offers a program which connects the digital worlds of Music, Advertising and Broadcast (including sessions that discuss self-promotion for artists through technology, which I’m particularly psyched about)
- New Media BC’s PopVox Awards which honour the best of BC’s Digital Media Industry. It is a people’s choice contest so the winners are determined by the audience.
- You can purchase tickets for the gala on the New Media BC site.
- And you can vote for your faves – but only until tomorrow (April 30th)! – Go to the Popvox site to vote (click on a category to see the entries – and you can vote for as many).
- There also 4 Individual Standout Awards that you can nominate people for (though these winners will be decided by a jury. )
- And much more.
Where can I find information Vancouver Digital Week?
- On Twitter – @vandigweek and @popvoxawards
- On Facebook - The Fan Page is here.
- On their sites -Vancouver Digital Week has a blog and Popvox has a site.
Update: Tags! Please tag Vancouver Digital Week as #vdw09 on Twitter, and vdw09 on Youtube, Flickr etc. (you can also add the following re: Popvox #popvox09 on Twitter and popvox09 on Youtube, Flickr etc.)
I just read an excellent post by Penelope Trunk “8 Reasons Why You Won’t Make Money from Your Blog” which begins:
“I am actually shocked at how ubiquitous the idea is that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme. Or even a get-rich-slowly scheme. It’s not. Blogging is a great career tool for creating opportunities for yourself.”
Thank you. I have a brilliant friend who consistently asks me, “So are you making money yet from your blog?” When I try to explain something like, “Well, not directly, I use the blog as a marketing tool” he looks at me each time like I had just announced I was going to give up all my worldly possessions and go run a lemonade stand.
Here’s the thing. I enjoy blogging – and both of my blogs have very separate purposes – neither of which involves making money directly from the writing.
I also feel it’s OK to not make money from your blog. Getting income from your blog involves a myriad of steps including building an audience (a huge undertaking), writing very, very regularly, devoting almost full-time attention to the blog alone and much, much more. If writing a blog was satisfying enough for me to write full-time, and if I sincerely believed I could come up with decent material daily, and if I wanted to devote my energy to building a following rather than doing the work I like to do and leading the life I want (which sometimes involves stepping away from the computer), the story would be different.
As it is, my blog goals aren’t directly monetary. With that in mind, here are just some things a blog can do:
- Establish your authority on a subject (I recently got a speaking gig through someone finding my blog)
- Make friends & Connect with people like you
- Engage in interesting discussion/Learn from others
- Show yourself as 3 dimensional
- Keep people up-to-date with what you’re doing (useful for all, especially artists with a following)
I have to admit that anytime someone comments here, or riffs on something I’ve written on DOL, or tells me I’ve made them laugh – it, in all sincerity, makes my day. Which has loads of non-monetary value for me.
Now, I have to sign off. There’s a lemonade stand that’s not going to build itself.
Among other subjects, Carol Sill & Erica addressed the role of “characters” in telling a story via social media.* Gillian Shaw (who was also on the panel & was great) subsequently spoke to Carol & I about our thoughts on the subject.
Now I rarely follow “characters” – likely because there are few television shows and fictional characters that engage me enough to follow their “activities” online.** And with characters where it’s not clear the “person” isn’t a person, there is a certain deception involved.
It’s a double edged sword for an artist – put forth a character that makes the fictional aspect apparent and many won’t follow an “unknown” character. Not unless they have something really interesting to say. Which is why I do follow Emme Rogers (as do many others): she’s fun, flirty and I think the conversation that takes place around her and her exploits brings a great sense of play to Twitter.
And characters can be very useful – and exciting – both for the artist and for the storyteller.
Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader life – and helps with publicity.
Related stories (lets call them “pre-stories”, for this point) can engage the audience and allow them to have a larger window into/to the character. After all, any character has a life that began before the point at which the film begins. Consider what aspects of their life you can explore and what kind of tools you could use to tell the story (video on Youtube et al., photos on Flickr, brief but enticing spurts on Twitter etc.) What parts of their story can bring more life to the character and the film? Where were the characters 6 months before? What interactions did they have the day before? That morning? You can see how this can be especially useful for something like a mystery/suspense project!
And, as I said in the above article (and as I have heard Monique Trottier mention with regards to books), there is no reason the end of the film needs to be the end. I can tell you that there have been several films (Red Road, Sideways) where I was consumed with reading more about the film after seeing it. Or where I’ve seen a film numerous times. So desperate was I to stay “engaged”.
For the artist, this process, while time-consuming, is in another sense, almost effortless. After all, as a writer and actor, I always created a background for the characters etc. And, much as I’d love to pretend I’m special, this is pretty standard practice. So such items can be extremely creative and satisfying – as well as a boon when it comes to building an audience.
And now, with all the tools available through social media, there’s the opportunity to give the audience more, to keep them engaged. Your creativity is the limit when it comes to where your story begins – or ends.
*We managed to talk about several social media topics, but there were some key things we didn’t have the time to address, so I hope we do have the opportunity to do a part 2 with this group so we can take our discussion to the next level. Oh & Erica and Leah Nelson (who was helping out by being Linkgrrl09 and finding the sites we all talked about) decided to play this video while I spoke, to help er, demonstrate my expertise…
**However, get any or all the characters from The Office on Twitter and I will press “follow” until I develop carpal tunnel.
***I’ll be looking into the use of Alternate Reality Games for independent film projects in a future post.
Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
Why Use Social Media to promote your film?
- Ability to meet, communicate and socialize with a large group of people (people who I might not had the opportunity to connect with otherwise)
- Finding an audience, a niche.
- While you lose some control, you gain a tremendous amount – the ability to market your films, meet your audience and more
- As with Crowdsourcing – people who participate are more inclined to purchase (same with film participants)
Remember, you have to be invested, engage with people. Don’t broadcast – interact. It’s not like sending out flyers.
Arin Crumley and Susan Buice “Four Eyed Monsters”
“What started out as an art project for Arin Crumley and Susan Buice has turned into a larger conversation about the unique role of web technologies in getting voices heard and movements started.”… “The duo is about more than making movies that entertain — their work exemplifies an empowered approach to media and policy.” – From the “Beyond Broadcast 2008” blog:
Here’s a video “Four Eyed Monsters DIY Distribution Case Study” where the filmmakers discuss how they made their film popular (Source: “Power to the Pixel” and Arin Crumley.com) (Blip is embedding strangely today so watch there for now.)
- Small, Low Budget (“Amateur” filmmaking)
- Went to SlamDance hoping for distribution – did not happen
- Created blog
- Told that film would be hard to market without any recognizable star power
- Realized iPod might be a good venue
- Created Video podcasts about the film to build their audience
- Worked – blogs, Myspace etc. showcased them, helped publicized
- Got coverage all over which continued through their endeavors.
- Connected with audience threw these podcasts
- Online audience helps with getting feedback, helped shaped their
- Audience got interest in watching film, asked to see it
- They collected zip codes and emails knowing this would help target their screening/distribution
- People are subscribed & watching videos through various venues (e.g. Youtube, Itunes), not a website, so they always put “go to our website” at the end of each video
- Send email to people in related area to invite to IndieWire showcase
- Many people showed up, people were invested in them, asked friends to go – phenomenon
- 1 request from filmmakers = 1 ticket sold
- Created Map with requests = a type of social network around people who were interested in their film – self-fulfilling prophecy
- Then began cold-calling theatres suggested to them, to screen film (didn’t always work… But it did – sometimes!)
- Showed the film in 6 major cities (LA, Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston) every Thursday at 8pm in the month of September (2007, I believe)
- 1691 were at the screening
- Arin and Susan were able to prove that they had an audience, could make money
- Industry averaged 7 people per screening /”Four Eyed Monsters” averaged 70
- Then they were able to open in the theatre
- They got sponsorship and
- Got nominated for a Spirit Awards (previously inelligible since they didn’t screen in theatre)
- Screened in Second Life
- Began selling DVDs.
- Looked a new tactics to further propel (and pay back the money on their credit card they used to fund the film. Money they got now paid for operations, expenses etc.)
- Uploaded film to YouTube for free. Asked them to join Spout and the filmmakers would get $1 per person who joined (that + ad revenue from Youtube = $50,000) (Note: 10MPH is doing something similar)
- 1 million views, plus boosted DVD sales
- Online attention landed them a $100,000 broadcast & retail release
- Ignited interest foreign markets
- Then posted film to MySpace
- Saw more boost
- (since their film was available online and it resulted in sales) Suggest: why not offer low-quality version online and then then high quality for purchase
- Suggest allowing people to translate (dotsub)
- One Store – they sell stuff off their websites (DVD, t-shirts – used BSide)
- Google can teach you everything (search and you will find) (Takes time, but you can)
- MySpace was first step
- Was struggle, but wanted to justify making another film – now they can do these things while making the next film
MdotStrange “We Are the Strange”
Jeff Howe’s book “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business” has a nice section on Mike Belmont aka MdotStrange. Here’s a brief excerpt :
“The 28-year-old self-taught animator has created a movie, entitled We Are the Strange, about a doll and a small girl who search for the perfect ice cream parlor. Along the way they encounter monsters, robots and an unusual hero named Rain. It’s an original, if unusual film. It looks like it was created by someone who has spent his life immersed in video games, the Internet and Japanese pop culture, as indeed is the case. Belmont made We Are the Strange without a cast, crew or budget. But because he video blogged the process of making the movie, he’d developed a sizeable fan base before he’d even finished editing his movie. In 2006 he released a trailer for the movie on YouTube, where it quickly became a cult hit. The notoriety led to a coveted screening at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. “
Here’s a video “M DOT STRANGE – Distribution Case Study: We Are the Strange“- from London Forum 2008 – where he talks about the case study of his film with relation to distribution (Blip is embedding strangely today. Please watch on the original source: Power to the Pixel.)
By the way, I am both envious and impressed by the title “professional weirdo” as I aspire to be a professional weirdo myself .
- Writing in a blog, doesn’t mean people will read it
- He uploaded clips about how he was making the movie – (like DVD-behind the scenes- extras) to YouTube
- “Going to give back” – karma – made “film school videos”
- Asked people to be extras in his film (to be eaten buy a zombie) via photos
- Crowdsourcing = integrate people into film, and others promote your film
- More open system rather than old school-closed (putting yourself out there, sharing)
- New system allows you to open up new channels of distribution
- Posted trailer on YouTube
- Doing something different creates a new (your own) niche – that you can dominate – rather than compete with “the sames”
- Screened at Sundance – more than 1/2 people left
- Made a propaganda film against his film, by interviewing the reactions of the people who hated the film
- Didn’t want to lose all rights, didn’t listen to people saying he couldn’t get it sold, watched
- Focused on YouTube audience – created his own audience, demographics
- Online puts power back into the hands of the people
- Distribution has been the final hurdle for indie filmmakers
- Asked audience to translate film
- Went with Filmbaby.com (he retained rights and received 80% of sales)
- No money on advertising, invested time marketing etc. online
- Didn’t fight when movie got “torrentrical (released illegally online) – made video thanking (and made up the new term). Got more press.
- (From questions) Distribution should be focused on the world – not just North America.
Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks, as I see them:
- You can find people that are talented and unique.
- You gain attention for your film
- May get plenty of lame videos
- Might not get enough videos to cast (there’s much competing for attention, and someone really has to invest time to put up a good video)
- Must focus on publicizing this call
- If you are going only by audience votes (& I’d recommend against this strategy) you are likely to end up with either the most popular (but not necessarily the best, or your preference) or the one who can rally the most friends to vote for him.
- You might find someone perfect but who doesn’t live in the town you’re shooting.
So what to do?
Don’t cast everyone online.
It will make your life unnecessarily difficult. Odds are, if you’re a filmmaker, you know many talented people. That said, there may be 1 or two hard to cast parts, and that’s when you should put out an online call
Try to look at the call from the auditioners point of view
Keep in mind:
- There are many such calls out there. Some are legitimate, some are just a way for the filmmaker to get more attention for his/her film.
- It takes effort and time for an auditioner to record an good audition.
- You might love your premise and film, but the actor (and audience) has no such attachment.
- you have to make your call as interesting and appealing as possible (ain’t this always my suggestion)
- Make sure your site/page contains as much information about your production, team crew as is relevant, helpful. This not the time to brag/exaggerate. This is the time to put forth links to your imdb.com profile and other sites, videos etc. that verify your legistimacy. If you have a solid short film online (Hello, YouTube again… ) this will help – in fact, embed a relevant video in the “about” page.
Figure out if you’ll be letting the audience vote.
Voting engages people (think American Idol etc.) but you may not wish to be stuck with who people decide. (Especially since not everyone pays fair.) Consider allowing people to vote for their favorites and have an “audience favorite” who is guaranteed a role, and your favorite who will get the role. Or offer prizes for people to vote, but with similar caveat.
Consider Location – or how to accommodate
Sure, you run the risk of finding awesome talent who might not live in your area, but consider if this is really a concern:
- If so, limit the call to people in a certain region
- If only slightly, you might pay for their flight and find them a safe place to stay during shoot – doesn’t have to be luxury hotel, sometimes a guest room works. (1)
How to do it?
There are a whole bunch of ways to make this work. Here’s what I think works best – and is most efficient. (But it is certainly time and effort-consuming.)
Have a place/home where this film/call lives.
- Ideally start a specific site (purchase a domain name for your film, so if your film is Credo the site is Credo.com, casting = credo.com/casting or Credocasting as a home. This is the place where all the information will be & will be aggregated.
- Have links on this site to other places online that the film/call exists (Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc.)
Then expand outwards.
- Use your blog to help promote and discuss (at various stages)
- Put a call out on various social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace)
- As I understand, running an official contest on YouTube (“Community”) is expensive), so it might be best to just set up a group and get people to become members of a group (basically one click) to submit their videos (once uploaded to YouTube)
“[W]hen it comes to finding quirky unknowns , Casting Society of America board member Laura Adler says internet searches are fast becoming a go-to tool among her colleagues. She cites Christopher Mintz-Plasse, for example, who landed the role of “McLovin” in Superbad after casting agents spotted his clips on YouTube. “It’s a great tool for finding new faces,” she says. “Casting people use MySpace or FaceBook or Craigslist when they’re looking for an unknown young talent who’s odd or unique. You run the risk of getting bombarded by tons of people who aren’t right for the role but we get that anyway, on a daily basis.” (from Wired.com: “Filmmakers Find Fresh Talent on MySpace “)
Ning is a social site where you can create your own social network/niche. (E.g. a Facebook of sorts for a particular interest):
“One of the most popular Ning networks belongs to hip-hop mogul 50 Cent and has 107,000 members and counting. Chris “Broadway” Romero, creative director of new media for Fitty’s site, describes it as “an entertainment-industry news/rumor/editorial blog in the vein of TMZ.com, combined with unparalleled access and interaction with the celebrity.” Romero uses the site to cast parts for music videos and film projects, and one day, he hopes to release music and video directly to the public, bypassing record companies completely. To Romero, it’s nothing less than “a new entertainment platform, period.” A single Ning group can, in theory, serve as a platform for an entire business; collectively, the networks represent an ever-expanding commercial universe. (From Fast Company: “Ning’s Infinite Ambition ”
Be upfront. And make certain that you have a decent online reputation to help allay concerns.
Established a real relationship with people you cast, or plan to cast and be sure you’re not a… scuzzy. (Sorry, can’t help you if you are). Again, try to put yourself in the auditioners shoes.
Again here, I make the assumption that both the filmmaker and the actor is educating themselves – looking into someone’s background online as well as checking references etc. before meeting/staying with them or allowing someone to stay at their place.
There are many sites that address safety concerns especially with regards to acting – so I’ll keep this brief – note to actors:
- Never be desperate (yes, this seems impossible, at times, but trust me)
- Trust your instincts
- Never let someone convince you to do something that makes you uncomfortable
- Be kind but upfront, ask someone to provide references (especially female references, if you’re a woman) so you can confirm your own safety. Anyone who would balk about this has their own issues. (Personal note: I developed a similar rule when I was dating: learned to say I was not comfortable going to a guy’s house early on. If they became jerky, I knew exactly who I was dealing with.)
Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
Much like the Oscars, there has been plenty of anticipation surrounding the winners of Decor Hell.
Thank you to all our wonderful participants!!! The entries gave us such (sick) pleasure.
(Note, you can still see all the entries on the site.)
And, we now have the 2 lovely winners.
The Grand Prize goes to: Heidi Pawluk for:
“Piece De Resistance (Le Toilette)”*
& 2nd Place goes to Hope Ryckman for:
“Cats are Couch Destroyers”**
*I’m not sure if a flowering toilet chair is meant to make me giddy, but somehow it does
**I’m still frightened of the Ocelot that did that damage…