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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Some Notes from the 2009 Producers Institute Opening Panel

Really fun conversation this morning at the opening session of the Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, covering all things related to the evolution of documentary storytelling.

Lots of people have been Tweeting from the event using the tag "#pint09." While there wasn't a live video feed of the panel as promised, I'm told that recorded video will show up soon (and I'll link to it once it does.)

I blogged earlier about some of the topics we planned to cover. We got to about half of them.

A few random notes, mostly sparked by things the audience said:

1. If you focus too much on new technologies and communications platforms, like Twitter and iPhone apps and Facebook, you can risk missing a big chunk of your audience (unless your film is intended explicitly at people under 35.) What about people over 35? Filmmakers ought to think about making their film available and generating buzz in traditional places (like theaters, film fests, Netflix, and Amazon) as well as on the Interwebs, iTunes, mobile devices, house parties, etc.

2. A lot of filmmakers can get intimidated by how much there is to do in this new world of audience cultivation and digital distribution: so many new platforms, formats, and modes of interactivity. But I also think there are so many new ways that you can seek out help from people you've never met. Your creative crew can grow from five to fifty if you know how to ask for assistance and get people involved (with tools like wikis, Ning, and even simple blogs like this one). Of course, you also have to be open to the kind of ideas and contributions you get -- and be willing to give up a bit of control in exchange for getting pro bono assistance from folks around the world. (In Fans, Friends & Followers, Jonathan Coulton, Robert Greenwald, and Timo Vuorensola talk about their approaches to crowdsourcing.)

3. We need a good way to connect filmmakers with social media experts, for advice/guidance/collaboration. Even tech-savvy filmmakers can benefit from smart ideas about engaging the audience and getting them talking about your work... and many social media folks would love to sink their teeth into some substantial film projects. Perhaps this is a job for the 2009 edition of The Conversation, now sort of in the planning stages for NYC later this year.
(We're still trying to nail down the right venue.) But if there are other initiatives doing this sort of thing, let me know...

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