Comment: Embracing an online audience

Comment: Embracing an online audience

Comment: Embracing an online audience

0 comments 📅09 November 2011, 17:24

Studio Beyond – an online business that centralises all the resources needed to get films financed, produced and distributed – says the social nature of the internet has a part to play in modern movie making…

More and more people associate themselves with brands not just as a consumer product, but as a community. And, Entertainment, which always walks the tightrope between art and commerce, is nonetheless a consumer product with a stratosphere of brands. As in any business, the product needs to remain competitive, so the stakeholders will need to weave a social component around the entertainment product.

Of course, filmmakers have historically remained in their ivory towers, immune to the desires of their target audience as they pen or produce their products which have a very personal stamp. The notion ‘produce it and they will come’ will change radically and quickly as interactive entertainment and social networks emerge to start talking back to filmmakers. “The artist’s vision” as a precious entity that can’t be sullied by public opinion will nonetheless be influenced to some degree by a “collective’s vision” once entertainment accepts and understands social business.

Consumers are empowered like never before to provide input and ideas to brand entities via social business. Film spectators as consumers will expect the same, but filmmakers either have not recognized this or prefer not to admit that what they produce is a consumer product.

There are exceptions, such as Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Basic Instinct, Total Recall) who is developing an interactive product called The Entertainment Experience. At a recent press conference, Verhoeven elaborated, “All aspects of movie making, including the acting and filming, are done by new talent, (they) can sign up on the website.” Thus, the website provides the social business platform to create the film.

This is the perfect example of creative social business where the filmmaker has come down from his ivory tower to engage the viewer/consumer using internet technology.

Social business does not stop with being a Fan of a TV show on Facebook or a Follower on twitter. Although the fan may find a community of like-minded individuals, at the moment, there is scant dialogue between the creatives and the viewers on these platforms. Yet, social networking sites can be powerful social media platforms for interaction between viewers/fans and the filmmakers. The filmmakers can create an audience from the word ‘Go’: These engaged fan communities will feel part of the movie-making process and will become loyal followers of the Filmmakers work.

This is of course a scary proposition for a filmmaker: how can I ensure quality, and retain my voice? In the Verhoeven example, he as the Director will shape the film and do the final cut; there are creative collaborative steps that will enable the filmmaker to retain some degree of ownership. And the payoff for engagement and transparency grossly outweighs the risks: The result is an unprecedented and profound connection between the filmmaker and viewers that will translate to a locked-in audience from film to film.

We have witnessed waves of radical change since the 1993 inception of the internet. The next wave is coming in, and that’s social business, and it’s time for the entertainment industry not to fear it but to catch it and ride it confidently to shore.

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