Database for Followers: A Must


In the article You Need to Build a Database of Your Followers by Chris Dorr,
it talks about what filmmakers (both independent and mainstream) should
be doing to build their audiences. It cited two posts found on PBS and Indie Game that are related to the topic. Let’s look at some points the article mentioned.

Thom Powers on Social Media: The PBS blog was a transcript of an
interview with Thom Powers, one of the most prominent men in the world of
documentary film and is a programmer for different film festivals. Film festivals
have been popularly used to promote one’s movies, but how do use those festivals
successfully to gather your audience?

For Thom, being active on Twitter is a must for his kind of job as a festival
programmer and for anyone who has a job that’s supposed to be communicating
with people. He made a few points of the importance of social media as a tool
that filmmakers can use to create and build their followers’ database mixed with
traditional approaches like print and press opportunities. Here’s an excerpt from
the interview transcript:

“I think what's important for a filmmaker to remember is you can't rely on just
one thing… At the same time, you can't just think about a traditional approach; you have to
incorporate social media, with the basics being Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. If a
filmmaker isn't at least covering those three bases, they are a step behind.”

“It's also about building a database. It used to be two tools you needed as a
filmmaker: a camera and an editing machine. Now there's a third tool, which is a database of
your followers, and not just for one project but as something you're going to nurture and
grow for your career.”

The new approach, as per Thom, is to have a mindset focused on continuity
versus the old approach which is to think about what is at hand or film-to-film
approach. You have to think and plan beyond your current work and think of it
as a company that’s recurrently producing films, therefore having a possibility
of building a following over many films. Having a database is a very vital to that
process so you can remain in contact with your fans about any updates on your
project as well as potential fans in the future.

Indie Game: The Movie Case study: Chris also talked about another post
he came across from the makers of the Indie Game: The Movie, Lisanne Pajot
and James Swirsky. With the case study, they did what Thom was trying to say
on harnessing the advantages of social media on the course of their 33 month
production and, they came out successful.

One section of the case study even highlights what it takes to succeed on what
Thom suggests – a lot of time and tons of effort/work are needed to build
audiences and create a database.

The two filmmakers had to: write or reply to 10,286 emails; 13,783 tweets;
182 blog posts made; 88 minutes of extra video circulated prior to release and
produced 1.3 million views; 51 updates given to Kickstarter backers and 2,784
emails personally responded after the movie release.

You can only imagine how long they had to be glued to their computer screens.
Remember that time when you had to read and reply to 89 unread emails in
your inbox? I guess that kind of stress multiplied by 10. But at the end of the
day, nothing is sweeter than knowing you have an active database supporting
you, following you and anticipating your next project, as Chris said: “…what
independent filmmaker would not want to be in their position?”