The wonderful world of social media

Social Media

I am in Los Angeles this week working on pre-production for a short film I am directing and producing for my MFA. I have been meeting with producer friends who have put me in touch with potential cast and crew and helped me in the location scouting process – while at the same time I have been preparing my crowdfunding campaign so I can launch when I return to NYC. My least favorite part of creating work. Fundraising.

Although I ran a theatre company for several years in San Francisco which was established as a 501(c)(3) and wrote grants, planned fundraising events and did the old fashioned letter writing campaigns, I am new to the online, social media driven fundraising arena. I have been trying to get up to speed with the whole thing and reading as much as possible. The latest being an article in Forbes on The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends. Surprise, surprise Google+ is not catching on – and MySpace may not be out completely but is only really being used by musicians.

Another article in Entrepreneur, The Basics of Crowdfunding, describes the possibilities of social media and online crowdfunding for businesses:

This has all become possible in recent years thanks to a proliferation of websites that allow nonprofits, artists, musicians — and yes, businesses — to raise money. This is the social media version of fundraising.

There are more than 600 crowdfunding platforms around the world, with fundraising reaching billions of dollars annually, according to the research firm Massolution.

To think Kickstarter only launched in 2009 (a mere five years ago) and now a quick google search finds a plethora of articles, academic, practical advice, specific to arts and non-profits or businesses and entrepreneurs (thanks to the new JOBS act, it is now possible to not just donate but invest via crowdfunding), however, things are constantly changing and it still seems to be the wild west online.

I was struck by a comment made by an actor with whom I had a meeting about my upcoming project. He asked me if I considered the social media following of an actor in the casting process because it could really help with distribution. I am not quite sure of the validity of the statement given that short films rarely get distributed and are mostly exhibited via the festival circuit and then used as a calling card for those involved. Also, I can’t imagine that large scale distributors would consider a film based on even a couple of hundred thousand social media followers that a no-name actor might have. Nonetheless, it did make me think of how social media has changed the cinema landscape. It is almost reminiscent of working in small theatre where an actor’s, designer’s or director’s friend pool did make a huge difference because generally those are the people that would buy tickets and attend the show. Perhaps it is possible that something as massive as the online community via social media can create smaller, community based storytelling (cinematic) endeavors?

– Jennifer Dean

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