Social media is the future of independent cinema. The possibilities for up and coming filmmakers is nothing short of endless, virtually everyone on the planet has Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and all things in between. Before the rise of the internet independent filmmakers usually had to rely on the exposure through word of mouth. Social media is basically that but worldwide, with a simple Google search, you’ll be able to find films from every corner of the world. It’s really nothing short of amazing, it’s made the world such a smaller place and cinema is reaping the benefits of that.
I can think of two recent examples of filmmakers being found through YouTube itself; the first being Ataque de Pánico! by Fede Álvarez and Lights Out by David F. Sandberg. Both of these directors were noticed by studios when their respective short films reached viral status; Álvarez went on to direct the Evil Dead remake and Sandberg adapted his terrifying short film into a feature. These two directors are important to look at, they’re living proof that creativity isn’t dead in mainstream cinema.
As long as the film is captivating, people will watch it and people will share it; we live in an age where our main source of entertainment and social connection is the internet and independent filmmakers should be taking a lot more advantage of that. One could argue that festivals are a better way of earning reputable recognition but all in all, it would be wise to make use of both of these platforms.
Online word of mouth makes all the difference
Twitter is the biggest form of word of mouth on the Internet. It’s played a huge part in helping the funding of larger scale independent films. One such example of this is AD Lane’s Invasion of the Not Quite Dead. IOTNQD has undergone numerous fundraising campaigns over its decade-long production, successfully reaching a majority of their targets thanks to the wonder of Twitter. In fact, I only found out about it after they followed me out of the blue; this even lead to me finding out about the Kent Independent Film company too.
Facebook can take credit in this too; a few months ago the crew behind an upcoming short film, Elle, managed to successfully fund themselves using their Facebook page for support. Even Big Picture Film Club’s Facebook page offers a platform for up and coming filmmakers to showcase their work.
Even blogging sites such as Reddit, offer the opportunity for filmmakers across the world (amateur or professional) to congregate, share advice and their own work for feedback. It really is a good place to go and share opinions with other filmmakers who may or may not be in the same situation and provide any much-needed motivation.
With how connected everyone on social media is, it’s incredibly easy to just stumble across these niché companies and productions. As long as it’s marketed well and accessible, people will find it; every filmmaker hoping to get exposure needs to keep that in mind.
So what does this mean for independent cinema?
Obviously, it’s hard to say but all signs do point towards those intelligent and creative films receiving the attention that most directors dream of. Video-sharing sites such as YouTube, have thousands of short films uploaded to them every day. This doesn’t just include people’s passion projects; rather the ones that tend to touch upon wider issues such as race, abuse, bullying etc. Social media gets deserved criticism for some of the things it enables; however, when it’s used to bring attention to these kinds of issues using film it does a world of good. The “millennial” generation is the future in a world that’s never been so small; the spread of daring independent films is one of the best ways to bring attention to these topics. In my opinion, this can only mean good for both the industry and our culture.