THE NEW ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

THE NEW ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

When social media made it’s first appearance of any significance in this country, it began strictly as a method of connecting long lost friends, old flames and establishing groups for people to associate with others of like minds.  By now we are all familiar with the story of Mark Zuckerberg and how he originally came up with the concept (which began as ‘facematch’) as a way of rating the female students on campus at Harvard.  We wont delve into who stole from whom as his he has been sued by several individuals and has settled each case out of court in regards to establishing ownership of the company, but as the old adage states, “Possession is nine tenths of the law.” And Mr. Zuckerberg remains firmly in control of Facebook whose value is estimated between 70-100 billion dollars.   Facebook has since evolved into an essential part of the lives of individuals not only across the country, but throughout the globe with over 1.1 billion users world wide.   Now in it’s 9th year of official existence, Facebook remains the premier social networking site.

The second leading social networking site is twitter.  Twitter basically took the Facebook premise and condensed it by limiting its users to only 140 characters in what it referred to as a “tweet”.  Twitter permitted users to keep up with celebrities and other famous figures such as athletes and politicians by “following” them online.  Unlike Facebook in which you would have to gain permission from the individual to be a part of their page, twitter has no such restrictions.  Anyone can literally follow anyone unless their content is deemed by the followed to be rude, anti-social or the followed simply does not want to be followed.  Then the followed can “block” that person which will keep them from interacting with them through the medium.  Twitter became an instant success and now can boast having over 500 million users.

While both of these sites began as a connection to friends, family, and celebrities, they quickly evolved to become havens for corporations looking to market their respective products online directly to their respective target audience.  This was certainly to be expected as corporations discover new ways to attract dollars as sure as nectar will always attract a honeybee.  Yet there was another effect that was initiated by the use of social media that perhaps was not to be expected, and that was their prominent role in spreading news and instigating change.

One has only to look back at the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East that has taken place over the past several years as an example of what I would describe as the perfect storm for social media to burst through the ranks of shear entertainment and become a force for social change.  With the advent of technology, cellular phones have become a fixture amongst people of all ages and the number one and two apps (respectively) are Facebook and twitter.  This permitted each user to instantly connect with their friends and colleagues to discuss topical subjects relating to their government and how they could band together to protest in large numbers, forcing their governments to respond and the worldwide media to take notice.  And take notice they have.  Regimes have been toppled by the sheer force of will of the masses of people united together in a way they could never have been prior to the advent of social media and the unlimited access to it.

As our nations politics and politicians become younger and more tech savvy, look for both Facebook and twitter to play an even larger role in the future of this country and the world.

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CONSIDER PITCHING YOUR FILM PROJECT AS A SERIES

 While there have been may great film projects that originally began as a novel or in more recent times a graphic novel (see ‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘Watchmen’) there is a trend now for many great novelists and storytellers to transfer their ideas and unique characters into a series for television, primarily on the cable networks.  Many of the recently Emmy nominated and award winning shows such as FX’s ‘Justified’, which is based on the short story ‘Fire in The Hole’ by Elmore Leonard, or HBO’s fabulous ‘Game of Thrones’ which is based on the novels written by George RR Martin were converted to episodic television (Cable and Subscription Cable respectively) and delivered just the results that the respective executives were seeking.  Great programming that immediately produced both the lofty Nielsen rating numbers, as well as the social network buzz” that the programming executives were wanted. 

 In a world where movie budgets continue to balloon well into the hundreds of millions of dollars and where studios are reticent to greenlite any project that does not have Tom Cruise, Will Smith or any number of comic book characters, studios are becoming much more conservative in both the number of projects that they will “take a chance on” and the amount of money that they will budget for said films.  Television on the other hand, specifically cable and subscription cable networks such as HBO, Showtime and Starz have found themselves consistently pushing the envelope for more original and daring programming.  The stage was set with HBO’s breakthrough hit The Sopranos staring the late, great James Gandolfini, which the network then followed with the powerful urban drama The Wire.   These two shows not only drew public and critical acclaim, they were also the first subscription cable original programing to break through what I like to refer to as “The Water Cooler Test” They became shows that the public would talk about the next day at work (this being before the age of Twitter) They became shows in which the personal lives of the actors and actresses became folder for the gossip magazines such as People Magazine and US Weekly, and most importantly, they became the shows that drove HBO subscriptions to record highs as the organic momentum of daring quality television prompted everyone to want to know what everyone else was talking about.  Since HBO broke ground with their original programing, not only have the other subscription cable networks followed suit, but also cable networks, such as the aforementioned FX and others have become increasingly aggressive in developing original programing that is outside of the box.

While there are an abundance of talented authors and screenwriters competing for attention to produce the next blockbuster film, if you consider yourself amongst that group, why not look at your project as a series that can be pitched to television as opposed to the theaters?  In the current financial climate for the film industry, no less an authority than George Lucas himself predicts a complete overhaul of the industry due to former and projected large budget blockbusters that will flop.  This will lead to even tighter budgets by studio executives and fewer opportunities for writers and producers of independent films looking to break into the business.  A talented novelist/scriptwriter who recognizes this trend can begin to take steps to place themselves in the best position to be successful in the future.

Best of Luck to you!

 

Chad Morton

Managing Partner / SMASH Entertainment LLC.

www.smashentertainmentllc.com

Game of Thrones is HBO’s biggest hit since the Sopranos

http://winteriscoming.net/2013/06/game-of-thrones-is-hbos-biggest-hit-since-the-sopranos/

George Lucas Commenting on  the future of film- ABC News

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/movie-theater-ticket-prices-could-reach-150-says-155727572.html

Starting Your Own Web series

Hello All

 For upcoming filmmakers and prospective television producers, ‘getting discovered’ is always one of the principle objectives.  While some filmmakers and television script writers toil in away working their way up the ranks for ‘OPP’ (other peoples productions) some have discovered that there is an alternative to this that enables them to have creative control of a project of their choosing which can be distributed to the public at a fraction of the cost of even the most low-budget film or cable television show.  That alternative is, The Web Series.

 While Web Series are not new by any stretch of the imagination they have been picking up steam to the point where now there are many viewers who subscribe to online webisodes from independent producers as part of their daily entertainment.  Web series produced by independent producers from places as remote as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania can catch fire and put writers, producers and actors on the map.  (See the link to an article on Hamilton Street Below)

 With this new genre of entertainment firmly establishing itself in our entertainment landscape, the competition for entertaining, well produced web series is now at a fever pitch., and the increase in consumer attention has drawn the interest of the Hollywood as they seek to cherry pick the “next big thing” that could be transformed into the next summer blockbuster or perhaps the next prime time hit.  The best example of this would be Fred.  The quirky teenager began making comedy videos on YouTube and was the first to attract over one million subscribers to his channel. This resulted in Fred being signed by Nickelodeon, which granted him a three-picture deal for the network.  Fred went from “ashy to classy” very quickly as he graduated from self producing his own videos to being paid handsomely to act in videos produced by a major cable network!  Fred (whose real name is Lucas Cruikshank) struck his gold on you tube, but you tube is not the only avenue for the independent film/television producer.  There are multiple sights that want your content and would welcome your production, that cover almost every genre of both film and television.  Now, while everyone certainly cannot expect to achieve the success of Lucas “Fred” Cruikshank, you never know where you can achieve your big break!

 In short, a web series may be just what you need to jump start a long and productive career. 

 

Best of luck to you!

Chad Morton

Managing Partner / SMASH Entertainment LLC.

www.smashentertainmentllc.com

 

The Patriot News – Central PA – Hamilton Street Article

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/09/hamilton_street_a_harrisburg-b.html

 Top Ten Most Watched Web TV Shows

http://mashable.com/2009/09/09/top-web-tv-shows/

 Web Series Channel

http://www.webserieschannel.com/the-zombie-apocalypse/

 IFP.org

http://www.ifp.org/resources/creating-a-web-series-knocking-it-out-case-study/Image