Competition, Crowdsourcing, Content Creation in Film

As I was looking at the site TrailerWars yesterday, I started thinking of all the ways sites like this one could be used by people in the film industry. For the end user it seems like just a fun way to pass the time, but for the filmmaker, the actor and the crew, competition sites can be a great way to find out audience interest level in a film, spread the word about a film or about your work, and showcase new work – even in new genres for a director trying to branch out, for example.

Think about it: if you are considering making a feature length film, it costs money. If you are operating on a short shoestring, finding $100,000 (or even $10,000) to make your dream project will be one of your biggest hurdles. Finding a few hundred dollars (or in the case of many – a few willing friends to work for free) to make a trailer could be much easier.

It’s a little backwards to think of making a “trailer” first, isn’t it? And for the reluctant, sites like this one do accept short films as well, so you could do what Crooked Lane (client) did and make a short that will later become a (wholly different) feature. But I’m thinking out of the box here. Making your trailer first, in the true spirit of the site, also forces you to hone your vision for the full film.

By using a pre-production trailer, made before the rest of the movie, you get an audience viewed storyboard. You can then track the competition and see how your film is meshing with potential audiences. If your film isn’t gelling with people, it will let you know you may need to go back to the script, the set, the character development, actors, etc long before you spend hard earned money producing your vision, increasing your chances of success down the line.

Can you use this concept to run a trailer on your site? Of course you can, and Amy and I encourage people to do so to raise awareness about their film. But running a trailer on your site alone and not including various contest sites like this or content sites like YouTube and Viddler has a few side effects. The first of these is in type of eyeballs. These contest sites draw people who want to play, to watch a few videos to kill some time, and who may not be out there looking at or for film sites. That sounds startlingly like a random movie theater audience, doesn’t it? Think of how much better that will be in getting word out about your film to the non-movie buffs as as the film lovers who seek out new film content online.

The second is in number of eyeballs. It may take a while, using concerted efforts, to build up a following on your web site or blog. That’s fine, fans should be nurtured. But sites like this Trailer Wars and others could bring more numbers of people watching your trailer – doubling up your efforts and having the trailer in more than place will increase your chances of success.

The third is implementation. Implementing a voting system on your site can be a pain in the butt for some people. You can have people vote by commenting, retweeting, sharing on social sites, or if you can afford a web designer or have a willing web smart friend you may be able to make a voting system like these sites have, but all of the solutions can be cumbersome (or cost money). Why not use someone else’s system as a means to your end?

Looking at sites like TrailerWars, you can see the potential of using them in your arsenal. What could the information gleaned by putting your content there do for you as a filmmaker? How would you use it?

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