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December 27 at 8:30am

Come Together: The Future of Independent Film and Social Media

By Ted Hope

By Reid Rosefelt
I read that 57% of people say they talk more online than they do in real life.   Whether or not this suspiciously  precise statistic is wholly accurate– it paints a realistic picture of the way people I know live today, and how we will live as we move forward to 2013 and beyond.

Does social media increase our connection to each other or does it tear us apart?   By communicating with more people more of the time do we let our face-to-face social interaction skills deteriorate?  Will we evolve into creatures with very small mouths and extremely dexterous fingers?

Of course, not all the changes wrought by the internet have kept us physically apart.   In almost as many cases it has brought us together, for example:  computer dating;  reunions with long-lost friends; joining with strangers at meetup.com live events; connecting with nearby friends through 4Square, to name but a few.  The truth is that the internet has probably connected more people in the real world than any entity that preceded it, and it has opened up previously unimagined opportunities for lasting connections with the people we already know.

How does the internet impact moviemaking?  While technology has created the opportunity for parts of the process to be done in isolation, mostly we band together in groups of varying sizes during film production.   In addition, most of us interact at film festivals and through organizations like the IFP, the Sundance Institute and Film Independent.   Where the fissures between people are growing is in the way we watch movies, which is less and less in movie theatres.

Technology is chipping away at the idea of cinema as a communal experience, and this concerns me.   The small screens cut into the art of the cinema and into the vitality of the experience, which is at its best when it flows from the credits through the café conversations that flow afterwards.

Technology has proven its ability to help get people into the theatres, notably the transformation of the experience created by online ticketing.  Social media can help people find out what their friends are seeing  and recommending.   I do miss the golden age of the film critic, but I realize that the purpose of sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic is to get people out of their houses and into the theatres.

I’m as big a believer in social media as you can find, but I am more cheered by new ideas in micro-exhibition like ReRun and Rooftop Films, and the alternative distribution models being explored by  people like Peter Broderick, Jon Reiss, Scott Kirsner,  and the creator of this blog.   We need more ideas like these and we need to integrate them at their core with social media.   As a marketer, I do advise people to consider the digital route, but I never advise them to leave some kind of theatrical showing out of their plans.

My plea to the independent film community for 2013 is simple: let’s use technology to bring us together.    See you at the movies!

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”



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