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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ITVS: Case Studies of Indie Filmmakers Working with New Technologies

One of my big projects for 2008 was collaborating with ITVS on a series of case studies focused on indie filmmakers who are pioneering new ways to:

- Open up the production process to more audience participation

- Find and connect with new audiences for their work

- Distribute their finished film in new ways.

The first seven case studies are up on the ITVS site now, along with a list of the "Top Five Connection-Creating Strategies" and "Top Five Marketing and Promotion Strategies" for social issue filmmakers. (Many of these would work for any kind of filmmaker, but the whole project has a social issue doc focus.)

The filmmakers I interviewed include Byron Hurt ('Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes'); Katy Chevigny ('Election Day'); Curt Ellis ('King Corn'); David Iverson and Michael Schwarz ('My Father, My Brother and Me'); Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell ('10 MPH'); Tiffany Shlain ('The Tribe'); and Brad Lichtenstein ('What We Got'). One last case study, with Patrick Creadon (director of 'Wordplay' and 'I.O.U.S.A.'), should be up soon.

Here's part of the intro to the project:

    ...Chasing every new opportunity can be a waste of a filmmaker’s energy and resources. Which ones will generate the biggest return, in terms of attracting viewers, making change in the world and producing positive financial results?

    The ITVS Digital Initiative: Report from the Field, a series of case studies published on the ITVS website, aims to answer that question. By sharing the stories of filmmakers who are experimenting with new technologies, and trying whenever possible to quantify the results, we’ll seek to inspire other filmmakers to innovate—while trying to avoid raising unrealistic expectations.

    The Report from the Field will focus on three main changes, or pillars: opening up production, finding new audiences and taking advantage of new distribution opportunities:

    Opening Up Production to Participation
    During pre-production and production, how are filmmakers communicating with audiences, widely dispersed teams, funders and prospective subjects in new ways? What new opportunities for involvement and participation are they exploring?

    Finding New Audiences
    Once a project is completed and ready for release/broadcast, how are filmmakers using blogs, social networks, games and other technologies to reach audiences that will care about their project?

    New Distribution Opportunities
    How are filmmakers presenting their work on websites, cell phones, iPods and the new generation of Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes? Do these distribution avenues create conflict with more traditional outlets? Are there substantial economic benefits or simply promotional positives?

Thanks to Sally Jo Fifer, Matthew Meschery, Cathy Fischer, Jim Sommers, and the rest of the team at ITVS for supporting this work!

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