Hollywood and The Internet: The Rise of Social media

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What has it done for movies?
In my previous article on how the movie industry has been affected by the Internet, which you can read here,  I didn’t  touch on the effect social media has on the movie making industry. The subject of social media in relation to movies deserves its own “professionally” written article as I think, it brings up some interesting ideas and subjects that deserve exploration.

Social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, is undeniably the greatest phenomenon of the 21st century. If you think about it, social media has changed the way we communicate, express ourselves, share our ideas and connect with our interests. It’s amazing that something that was only created 10 or so years ago, has been able to have such a mind boggling impact.

According to the Pew Internet project research related to social networking around 74% of online adults use social networking sites. The age group with the highest amount of internet user is 18-49, arguably the most active age group of any population.

sns-by-age-over-time

What is even more interesting about this is that, if there are 3.5 billion (click here to see live internet user stats) people using the internet and 74% of online adults are on social media, this means that there is no other time in history where there is such a large database of what people like, who their friends are, and what they are interested in.

What is positive about this is that we as a society can use this data and take action with it. For example, an individual, with an interest in horror movies, who lives in a small town where he is the only one who likes this kind of movies. That person can go online right now and sign up to Facebook like his favorite movies, join some horror movie groups, get suggestions on more movies based on his likes and meet people who previously he/she would have never had the chance to communicate with. This enables the  person to interact with the world more creatively and in line with his or her interests.

Similarly, if you like certain products or brands the sheer amount of data on social media platforms, means that there will be more targeted advertising, even though adverts can be a pain, at least now the adverts will be more specific to you as a person, so more chance of you coming across products you might actually like.

Writing it down makes me happy because social media for the individual, allows anybody out there who might think their interests are strange or “weird” to find people who are similar to them, and really get into whatever they are passionate about. This isn’t a subject that comes up a lot in relation to social media, usually it is seen as a crutch for keeping kids inside. I wonder, perhaps if they got the validation, motivation and inspiration, that they get from their Facebook and Instagram profiles from their teachers, parents and peers they probably wouldn’t spend so much time on their phones. But I digress.

Movie Pages
Going back to this idea of being able to join groups on social media based on your interests, has meant people can form communities around their interests such as movies, for example, I liked the Donnie Darko movie page, and they post content quite regularly  related to the movie such as pictures and gifs.

 

What this does is that it engages the movie audience with the movie way after the movie has finished and allows fans of the film to discuss their ideas, theories and disagreements. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow us to engage with the film on a deeper level.

The idea that I can pick up my phone and tell Leonardo DiCaprio…. Or his social media team what I thought about his performance in The Revenant (amazing) allows me as the film goer to go through the barrier of the film screen.

For marketers and also independent filmmakers this solves, the question of how do I keep the audience interested in my film after it’s been released in the cinema?

Movie Campaigns
Film distributors and marketers have taken to answering the above question to the next level. With developments in technology, marketers can become more creative, for example the 360° Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer:

The sheer amount of people on social media means that the more creative your movie campaign is, the more likely people are going to share it with their friends. That is why almost every movie coming out has its own Facebook or Twitter page, because Facebook posts have the potential to reach more people than just your typical TV ad.

Independent filmmakers
This potential reach to large audiences is what attracts amateur and independent filmmakers to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Crazy Golf

A  real life example of how social media played a part in getting a film made, is when a post, came up in my  Facebook feed about funding a small film called Crazy Golf by Chloe Philipou. A well-made trailer on YouTube explaining her intent and the movie was enough to inspire me to donate. 82 backers ended up donating to the film, enabling her to get the extra £3,000 she needed to make the film.

The ability to share, and spread your ideas on social media, is what makes this sort of film making possible. Filmmakers are not dominated by the need for studio backing anymore; they can go-off and make their films on their own accord through audience support. Moving forward into the future, the money being lost through piracy could possibly be reinvested back to the filmmakers, through this Kickstarter way of funding movies.

Access to Actors and Actresses
Jumping onto a new page here, I thought it would be good to touch on how social media has changed our interactions with actors and actresses. Pretty much every actor has a Facebook page these days, except for a few who like to keep immensely private.

Never before have had we had a constant interaction with our favourite movie stars, on one hand what they post gives us more reason to ridicule them, but on the other hand it gives us more of a chance to get a glimpse of their personality, what they are interested in and what their daily lives are like. Albeit it is a very monitored and curated glimpse of their personality, the positive thing about this is that it enables us to humanize them.

The lowland #rainforest of the Leuser Ecosystem are considered the world’s best remaining habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran #elephant. In these forests, ancient elephant migratory paths are still used by some of the last #wild herds of Sumatran elephants. But the expansion of Palm Oil plantations is fragmenting the #forest and cutting off key elephant migratory corridors, making it more difficult for elephant families to find adequate sources of food and water. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is supporting local partners to establish a mega-fauna sanctuary in the Leuser Ecosystem, last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild. Click the link in the bio to stand with @haka_sumatra as they fight to protect the Leuser Ecosystem. #SaveLeuserEcosystem #Indonesia

A post shared by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on

Actors/Actresses today can be aware of what people think of them on a day to day basis, we can also get a glimpse of how they feel about it each other e.g. twitter rants. Instagram has enabled us to see what their daily lives are like and Facebook has enabled them to tell us what they care about.

A good example of someone who uses social media to their advantage is Leonardo DiCaprio, who uses his social media page as a platform to bring awareness, to wildlife conservation, climate change and his movies. So while he is raking in the cash from the Revenant he’s helping the environment.

Similarly, actors and actresses can engage with their fans through live Q and A, videos on Facebook, without the risk of being trampled over. The potential for actors and actress to use these tools to create content that is engaging and surprising, for example, replying to the critics with killer comebacks is what gets me excited about the future of social media.

The Negative and the Positives

As with everything on this planet’s social media platform has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that we can connect with the film industry on a more interactive level, connect with actors and actress on a human level and also be introduced to new films and ideas more easily.

The disadvantage of social media in relation to film is that the increased access to actors, actresses and movie sets, etc.  Can take away from the mystery and magic of film, so make them less special another disadvantage, could be that an increased access to a potential audience could lead to an increase of audience exploitation, through increased advertising. One last disadvantage is that the easier it becomes  for people to get access to film funds the more sub-par movies there could possibly be, but at the same time the opposite of this is also true.

Personally, I feel that social media as a tool, which at the end of the day, if utilized carefully and creatively could hold endless possibilities for filmmakers and film watchers alike. Since our attention spans are apparently decreasing anyway I can imagine a future where we watch our short films or series on our Facebook feeds, or possibly a revival of live tv shows, but on our social media platforms.

 

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