Development blog: Social Media

Development blog: Building an audience one ‘like’ at a time

iFeatures Development Blog.

Whilst partaking in Birds Eye View’s inaugural filmonomics programme, producer Marcie MacLellan was introduced to  Christopher Granier-Deferre, Executive Producer of iFeatures, Creative England’s innovative low budget filmmaking initiative. Joining director Dan Kokotajlo and writer Charlotte Wise , Marcie submitted a feature film project, Apostasy, to the programme and shortly afterwards learned that the project would receive development funding. In this blog series, Marcie provides an account of her development journey with the iFeatures programme. 

Here, Marcie discusses how to build audiences through social media…

Building an audience one ‘like’ at a time

In my most recent blog, I touched on the importance of social media when marketing a film. In this blog, I’m diving right in. The best thing about social media is that it can be just as kind to big budget films as it is to tiny budget ones. With a micro-budget feature currently in development with iFeatures3, this is a definitely good thing.

Our story is about 22-year-old Nat and 19-year-old Max, sisters who are devoted to each other and to their faith. When Armageddon is predicted, Nat risks body and soul to make the final choice; her sister or God. Our goal is to build an audience for this subject matter while creating a collection of engaging content, forming relevant relationships and building a solid foundation upon which we can promote the film once green-lit.

And it all needs to be done in ten weeks time.

“Social media is no longer just a way to build an audience; it has completely changed how audiences can participate in the production and promotion of films. Snakes on a Plane was transformed from an obscure low budget film into cult success and crowd funding has allowed people like Zach Braff to raise millions from fans,” said Richard Roaf, a filmmaker and digital campaigner based in London.

“The first step to success is understanding who your audience is, the online communities they are part of and why they share content. The second is to create great shareable content and deliver it to your potential audience. If you don’t have money for paid promotion, you’ll need time and patience as building an audience doesn’t happen overnight.”

His prime example of social media success seems appropriate given the aims of Birds Eye View and its audience. The documentary Miss Representation has built a quarter of a million fans on Facebook by sharing stories based on the themes of gender inequality from the movie.

“They don’t repeatedly plug their movie; instead they share relevant news and create a conversation by asking their fans what they think,” Roaf added. “The producers are releasing a follow up film next year and when they do they’ll already have an army of engaged fans ready to do their promotion for them.”

These are exactly the kind of examples we intend to follow. And fortunately there are plenty more of them. More fitting to our film, the (admittedly bigger budget) Take Shelter is a movie dealing with a man’s apparent paranoia about the end of the world. While some critics argue that its campaign was fairly standard given its lack of resources, it has generated curiosity and discussion – and over 32,000 likes. The fact that its writer-director took a very personal approach, expressing his interest in the film’s subject matter in a very personal way, is credited to its social media success. After all, in today’s digital savvy world, people are sceptical. And when it comes to attracting fans, sincerity gets results.

“The denizens of social media can quickly sniff out whether you’re just plugging your film or whether you’re genuinely engaging with them. Woody Harrelson disastrously found this out on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything,” said Roaf. “Noone likes the person at the party who blabs on and on about their oh-so-brilliant new project. Campaigns that do well understand their films as just one part of an existing ecosystem of blogs and social media groups. Only by understanding the conversation that you’re fitting into, can you make a really interesting contribution to it.”

Written by Marcie MacLellan

Marcie MacLellan is co-founder of Incontext Productions, a content production house based in London, England. She has a BA in Journalism and a MA in Screenwriting and Production. She is the producer for Apostasy, a feature film currently in development with iFeatures3. Stay tuned for her next blog about the iFeatures process.

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