“Filmmakers are only a decade or so behind rock bands in the realization that they have to start developing a list or database for people who like their movies,” says Scott Kirsner, a journalist who writes a blog called cinematech. “The good news is that once you’ve built this audience, they might help fund your next movie à la Indiegogo, they might just buy the DVD, they might come out to a theater, they might tell their friends and help you market it. I think it can be really powerful once you have this direct connection with the audience.”
The minds behind MySpace seem to agree. In June, the nation’s most popular social network announced a project to empower its users to collaborate on a film adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s acclaimed novel “The Witch of Portobello.” (Clearly, it’s not aimed at fans of auteur filmmaking.) The project follows an audacious $2 million film called “Faintheart,” funded by the British arm of MySpace. The country’s MySpace users voted for the best story pitch by an unknown director, offered casting suggestions based on audition videos, suggested seven songs for the soundtrack, and weighed in on the script – even providing lines of dialogue. Mercifully, the thousands of participants stopped short of demanding screen credits on “Faintheart,” a comedy about battle reenactors, which gets a wide British theatrical release next month.
The new wave of filmmaker social-network sites have neither MySpace’s financial clout nor site traffic, though they hope to capitalize on similar fan enthusiasm. Indiegogo, Indie Shares, and Indie Maverick each offer variations on a basic formula: Filmmakers are invited to pitch a film; the online community votes for the ideas they like best; individual members are then invited to invest in the films, even if it’s just $10.