16/01/2013 05:59 GMT | Updated 17/03/2013 05:12 GMT

The Changing Roles of Film Producers in the Era of Social Media


Be it for TV or the big screen, the business of filmmaking these days is fraught with risks. With so much content being developed these days, it is becoming harder and harder to capture the attention of the audience, and in the case of TV, to sustain it. Of the 30 odd new series that the major networks in the US unveil each season, fewer than half a dozen survive beyond its first year. And need we say anything about the percentage of films that click at the box office? In this environment, both big Hollywood studios and indie filmmakers are turning to the realm of social media to promote their films and generate hype and interest among the audience.

Either go social, or sink

That is undeniably the motto of the present age for filmmakers and producers. Gone are the days when a film generated all its publicity in the press and through word of mouth. Producers have to find ways to go online and generate awareness among the public well in advance. Just look at any of the several Hollywood blockbusters that have been released in recent years. Films like The Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games and Prometheus showcased innovative social media campaigns that created an online buzz and generated loads of publicity.

In the Indie world, it is not just about publicity

When you are a major Hollywood studio with very deep pockets, you can always hire the personnel required to run your online campaigns. But in the case of indie and amateur filmmakers who often have to deal with threadbare budgets, the social media sphere offers a lot of opportunities not just to get the attention of the audience, but also to generate funds and support. The rise of crowd-funding platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter has helped fund numerous films which have gone on to create waves in the circuit. Crowd funding is just the tip of the iceberg if recent trends are anything to go by. Take the instance of a film being streamed on Facebook on the day of its theatrical release (Kevin MacDonald's film Marley, about the legendary reggae star). Social media opens up new opportunities in collaboration. Instances like that of the short web series Wastelander Panda throws up fascinating examples of how the realm of social media is bringing together filmmakers and audiences together in ways that were never possible before.

The rise of a new breed of filmmakers

The increased accessibility to technology and filmmaking these days have opened up a whole new world of possibilities. The world of films has always had its fair share of actors and filmmakers who enter the field purely by chance. Modern era has just increased the opportunities for talented people to gain an entry to the world of films. Since we are on the topic of social media, the story of Omar Todd will do nicely to explain our case. As we have seen, film producers are getting more and more involved with social media. And Todd here originally came from the opposite end of the equation.

An Australian expert in the field of IT with over 20 years of experience, it was his association with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that led to a change in careers. As an active member of the animal rights group, Todd handled their social media campaigns thanks to his expertise in the field. One thing led to another and soon, there were a handful of award winning short films and documentaries with our IT specialist's name in the producer's credits. Some of his films include The Cove, Waiting for Gorgo, Confessions of an Eco-terrorist. He is handling the production duties for the upcoming indie-film Sparks and Embers. His association with the society also landed him a role on TV where he got to show off his acting chops (albeit playing himself!), for the hit reality series Whale Wars on Discovery Channel. Todd's career is symptomatic of the changing times in filmmaking and the way increased collaboration facilitated by social media is bringing people from diverse backgrounds together for the creative and challenging task of making films.