Social media changing documentary filmmaking
Alexander Holz writes in a piece in Mashable that social media is changing filmmaking in several ways, and that includes changing the notion of the work as a self-contained media object. The “film” can be an ongoing development. In the project Vaquita.tv by Chris Johnson, which was in seven parts and released on the web,
“Social media is a great ally during the production of a project, the marketing of it, and potentially keeping the issues addressed in your film in the media for a long time after someone has watched it,” Johnson said. “I believe that you never finish making a documentary film.”
Indeed, the way social media can extend a project is something that requires getting out of the traditional mindset about what “film” is. If a seven-part video on the web a “film”? In a way, it doesn’t matter if it achieves purposes.
Further, this sort of film/web work can lead to something not unlike a planet with its satellites, the way “bonus material” on a DVD expands the offering. Outside of the primary “film,” can there be footage broken off as its own piece? The answer, obviously, is yes, as more filmmakers explore how to build that.
Social media also changes the way we interact with the communities of both audience and film. Sheri Candler has a guest column on Truly Free Film that posits the idea of “tribes,” a word that makes a nice fit with the notion of smaller but more appreciative audiences as well as a greater network of filmmakers sharing perspectives and support.
The selection of the word “tribe” does indeed come from Seth Godin. The word “tribe” – as the anthropologists use it – means a society or organized group largely based on kinship that looks to a leader for guidance. This is not to be confused with a “crowd,” a non-organized group with no leader. There are lots of crowds in indie film, very few leaders. Filmmakers must create and cultivate an identity around themselves as artists. This identity will serve as leadership in forming a tribe of passionate supporters who will sustain their artist in order for this person to live and keep making the art the tribe enjoys.