Eugene Hernandez: DIY v. DIWO

Toronto, Canada, September 14, 2009 — How many of you have blogs? How many of you are on Twitter, on Facebook, or are curating a film series? Those are the questions that indie producer Ted Hope asked yesterday at a film financing conference here at the Toronto International Film Festival. He’s certain that web 2.0 tools and social media can bolster audience building and networking that are crucial to the survival of the sort of micro movies being made (and released) by independent filmmakers today.

Even more importantly, they may be crucial to the survival of film culture.

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Hope is a self-described recent convert to blogs, social networking and transmedia who said yesterday that he may not have all the answers yet, but he’s certain that if other filmmakers, producers and aficionados don’t take action now, we may lose our film culture. In his mind, it all starts with connecting with other “elitist film snobs” supporting the movies that we all care about.

According to Ted, we need to be watching, talking about and Tweeting about the movies that mean something to us.

“As much as I love making films and seeing films, I love talking about films even more,” Ted Hope said yesterday. To that end, he and business parter Anne Carey curate a regular series of screenings in New York City and they host a small reception after the showing. This week’s they’ll be showing Tze Chun’s “Children of Invention” at the Goldcrest Screening Room in Manhattan.

“If you are not bringing people to see the movies you love, if you are not spending time every day, there won’t be a culture that’s aiming for anything other than crass commercial explotiation,” Hope reiterated.

Ted’s comments come at a time when filmmakers are being asked to do more and more to get their movies seen. He’s saying that not only do individual filmmakers need to build an audience for themselves but they also need to find ways to contribute to a richer community that will embrace indie, foreign, and documentary films overall.

It’s not about “Do It Yourself” anymore. It’s about “Do It With Others” (to adopt a phrase being pushed by website IndieGogo).

Listening to Ted Hope advocate for elitist movies made me think of food activist Alice Waters, who last weekend at the Telluride Film Festival was speaking out in support of Slow Food, locally sourced ingredients and sustainable farming. Chatting with her, she emphasized a need for pooling resources and working together to support each others efforts.

When we consume movies (and food), we have to make choices. And, in order to create a sustainable business for producers and creators, we must spread the word about our tastes. On blogs. On Twitter. On Facebook. Etc.

At panel discussions and in conversations with filmmakers and friends I often advocate basic entrepreneurial approaches. To start with, filmmakers should not only have a blog or basic website, but be reachable via Facebook, Linked In or MySpace. It’s crucial to strategically curate a fan base.

Who are the fans of you and your work? Can they easily find you online? Are you engaged in a regular dialogue with them? The same advice applies to film critics, journalists, programmers and members of the industry.

Many of my own crucial filters for films and information are friends whose opinions I value and advice I trust, enhanced by their presence on Facebook, Twitter or individual blogs. Opinionated filmmakers with exceptional taste in movies, festival programmers who write passionate reviews, industry folks who blog consistently about film and technology. You get the idea.

It sounds rather basic, but many folks are still making sense of how to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other sites or tools. I am too.

At indieWIRE, or in general, how can we use these tools, and others, to bolster our community of creators, executives and fans?


Eugene Hernandez is the Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder of indieWIRE and can be reached on his blog, through Facebook or via Twitter: @eug.

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