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June 15 2011

18:15

4 Filmmakers Use Social Media to Crowdsource Their Stories

The second line of filmmaker Tim Burton's new short story is this:

burton story tweet.jpg

It is, of course, a tweet -- and one that encapsulates a new participatory era where contributions and voices from the public are reflected in all forms of art and storytelling, film included.

One of the early adopters of emerging media was filmmaker Kevin Smith, who now has a thriving personal media empire via a popular podcast (SModcast), nearly 2 million Twitter followers and even his own iPhone app. While Smith is a standout in digital engagement, he isn't the only one experimenting with today's digital connectors: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These four prominent directors have embraced new media tools and social networks to connect and co-create with audiences, and their projects are capturing a new kind of imagination.

1. Tim Burton

timburton.png

Last year, director Tim Burton embarked on his own big storytelling adventure on Twitter around a character named "Stainboy," as the "Tim Burton" exhibit opened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox. Called #BurtonStory and integrating a sequential storytelling technique called Cadavre Exquis or "Exquisite Corpse" (Burton's 2005 film "Corpse Bride" was nominated for an Oscar), users submitted tweets and the best one each day was added to the story. From the 88,967 tweets submitted, 87 were selected from 2,141 users.

This open, participatory approach to storytelling gave people access to perhaps a new iconic Burton character -- from the mass-marketed "Batman" to the mass-created "Stainboy." The "Tim Burton" exhibit is currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through Halloween.

2. Ron Howard

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind," 2002) partnered with Canon on Project Imagin8ion, "the first user-generated photo contest in history to inspire a Hollywood short film." Shutterbugs are encouraged to submit their photos for a chance to be one of eight grand prize winners (prizes include camera equipment, a trip to the film's premiere and a meeting with Ron Howard).

Photos will be judged on how imaginative and inspiring they are in eight categories: Setting, Time, Character, Mood, Relationship, Goal, Obstacle and Unknown. The deadline has already passed for submitting photos, but you can still vote online for your favorite images among the finalists. Here's a video explaining the contest:

3. Ridley Scott

ridleyscott.png

As previously discussed, Ridley Scott (director of "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner") produced a crowdsourced YouTube project titled "Life in a Day" -- a documentary that "tells the story of a single day on Earth" on July 24, 2010.

The film, directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald ("One Day in September," Best Documentary in 2000), strives to be the largest user-generated feature film ever created. The ambitious film project received more than 80,000 video submissions. National Geographic will release the movie in theaters on July 24, the one-year anniversary of "the day." And if the movie fails to entertain or attract audiences, we only have ourselves to blame (especially those who submitted videos or curated them).

4. Judd Apatow

juddapatow.png

Twitter has become an immediate, collaborative tool for many filmmakers on and off the set. To help write jokes for his speech at the Producers Guild Awards, Judd Apatow hit up his community of followers. Apatow ("Bridesmaids," 2011, "Knocked Up," 2007) included this joke from @omitofo: "Inception is really about Hollywood. Everyone's constantly trying to ruin your dreams so they can make a buck." Follow Apatow on Twitter (@JuddApatow) and tell him a joke. If you're lucky, he may just use your creation to amuse and entertain others.

Whether we collectively tell the story of a character, offer up a single joke or jointly experience a single day, all these examples point out how social media is opening doors for the public to the big screen.

What filmmaker would you want to collaborate with to share your story?

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

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March 25 2011

16:30

SXSW Showcases Rise of Multiplatform Storytelling and Collaborative Filmmaking

South By Southwest (SXSW) is an annual gathering of interactive, film and music creatives, executives and marketers in Austin. It is the ideal setting to explore multiplatform storytelling, multiscreen experiences and projects that reflect the talents of the collective. After several days of knowledge-filled panels and hyper-networking featuring digital thought-leaders, there were a few notable trends that made an imprint once the conference's closing credits hit the screen.

The Two-Screen Experience

The two-screen, or so-called companion viewing experience, was recently implemented at the Academy Awards via the Oscars All Access app, which gave viewers multiple camera angles within a paid app. While laptops, smartphones and tablets are all capable of the two-screen implementation -- basically, using a device while watching additional programing -- the ideal form factor is the tablet due to its screen size and ease of interaction. The rapid emergence of tablets such as the iPad have opened up a new opportunity for studios and networks wishing to amp up DVD sales and TV ratings.

SXSW featured the "TRON: Legacy" Lounge, which allowed visitors to experience Disney's Second Screen -- a parallel universe of interactive features on an iPad in sync with the Blu-ray version of the movie (available April 5). The additional content on display included filmmaker annotations, image sliders, progression reels to show effects in a scene and more ways to immerse yourself in the movie's Grid. Learn more about it in this video:

A separate SXSW panel titled "TV + New Media = Formula for Success" featured executives from USA Network highlighted Psych Vision, a two-screen experience to promote the TV show "Psych." The app enabled viewers to check into the show, unlock exclusive video content, earn points and redeem them for show merchandise.

Telling stories in multimedia

Transmedia, or telling stories across multiple platforms and formats, is in chapter one of its journey to mass adoption. But it has quickly moved from experimental buzzword to a powerful new storytelling genre.

There were several panels focused on transmedia at SXSW, including: "Can Transmedia Save the Entertainment Industry?," "Transmedia Storytelling: Constructing Compelling Characters and Narrative Threads," and "Next Stage: Transmedia: An Interactive Exploration of the History and Future of Production in a Transmedia World."

I attended the "Unexpected Non-Fiction Storytelling" panel, which featured many creative interactive projects, including "Collapsus," this year's SXSW Interactive Award winner in the Film/TV category.

"Collapsus" is a great example of the promise of transmedia. This eco-thriller from director Tommy Pallotta (producer of "A Scanner Darkly") was developed by SubmarineChannel and is based on the documentary "Energy Transition" from Dutch broadcaster VPRO. It is a mix of animation, interactive maps and documentary, presented in three panels and requiring viewers to make informed decisions about energy production:

Collapsus Walkthrough from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo

While a worldwide tour with PowerPoint slides may have been effective in driving awareness on global warming, "Collapsus" presents a compelling new media approach to addressing planetary issues.

The National Film Board of Canada showed several interactive projects, including "Test Tube." It deals with another global crisis -- the exponential growth of the human population (represented by bacteria) within a finite planet of resources (symbolized by the test tube). The site asks visitors what they would do with an extra minute, then environmentalist David Suzuki makes a compelling case on why we're in the final minute of existence. The concept is thought-provoking and the innovation is evident in the various tweets that are dynamically pulled into the site based on your "extra minute" entry.

Out of more than 67,000 entries, the most popular response to the minute question is "sleep" followed by "eat." (Disclosure: I entered "make coffee" for my final minute, which may not have been the best answer to save the world/test tube.)

Crowdsourcing and Collaboration

Star Wars Uncut "The Escape" from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

SXSW also featured award-winning crowdsourced projects and the premiere of one of the most anticipated crowdsourced video initiatives. Creators of the Emmy-winning "Star Wars Uncut" film, which is featured above, discussed how "the Force" of the crowd helped re-imagine one of the most beloved films in the galaxy. More than 1,200 contributors from 100 countries helped build the final film, elevating scenes into the film based on popularity or likes.

Annelise Pruitt, one of the project designers, called it "the largest user-directed movie" in history. She attributed its dynamic playback capability as the main reason that "Star Wars Uncut" won the 2010 Emmy for interactive media.

Another contemporary classic in the brief history of crowdsourcing is The Johnny Cash Project, a music video for "Ain't No Grave" composed of 1,370 frames built from art submissions worldwide. And there ain't no stopping the success of that project as it received another prize at SXSW, the Interactive Award in the Art category.

The YouTube project "Life in a Day," produced by Ridley Scott (Oscar-winning director of 2000's Best Picture "Gladiator," as well as "Alien" and "Gladiator"), also relied on the submissions of the collective. The project received more than 80,000 video submissions from people in 140 countries who wanted to share their personally documented story on July 24, 2010. The film made its premiere at Sundance earlier this year and was screened at SXSW last week. National Geographic Films picked up rights to the movie and will distribute it in theaters this summer.

JuntoBox Films.png

For filmmakers looking to develop and distribute full-length features rather than a slice of a larger project, JuntoBox Films is a new collaborative film studio that merges social media with traditional film production. They plan to finance five films in 2011 with a budget range of $200,000 to $5 million each. Filmmakers are encouraged to "get junto'd" after creating a profile on the site and having their project rated by their peers in order to be considered for the film assessment phase.

"Junto" means together in Spanish. The interactive storytelling, the two-screen experiences and the collaborative initiatives showcased at SXSW reveal that projects built together and experiences shared together are worthy of the highest rewards.

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and Web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

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September 07 2010

11:12

YouTube publishes footage from Life in a Day project

The results of YouTube’s documentary experiment ‘Life in a Day’ are now up on the project’s channel.

Life in a Day, which invited the public to submit videos documenting their experiences on July 24, received a total of 80,000 videos from 197 countries. YouTube claims it is the world’s largest user-generated film.

Director Kevin Macdonald and producer Ridley Scott will be using some of the footage to produce a feature-length film to be premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.Similar Posts:



July 21 2010

15:51

Crowdsourcing hits the silver screen with YouTube’s ‘Life in a Day’ experiment

On 24 July film-makers will have the opportunity to take part in a cinematic experiment aiming to create the world’s largest feature film.

Entrants to YouTube’s Life in a Day project, which boasts film director Ridley Scott as its executive producer, will have 24 hours to record a snapshot of their life on that date and upload it to the project’s YouTube channel. The best footage will be selected and edited by director Kevin Macdonald for a feature film to premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Anyone whose footage is used will be credited as a co-director, and all submissions will feature on the Life in a Day YouTube channel irrespective of whether they make the final cut.

The following instructions to take part are posted by the project:

  • Visit the Life in a Day channel and learn more about the project. Be sure to read through the steps you need to take to participate and the guidelines for creating your video.  Also check out some of the sample videos for inspirational ideas.
  • On July 24, capture your day on camera.
  • Upload your footage to the Life in a Day channel before July 31.


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