Social Media as an Agent of Change for Documentary Filmmaking

For every filmmaker I know who is a social media maven, there are at least two who are skeptical about Twittering and Facebooking their projects into existence (or at least, into popularity). I think it's a common misperception that using Twitter and Facebook somehow comes at the expense of the actual filmmaking part of... well, filmmaking. I myself was a late adopter of Twitter (follow me here), and I understand the line of thought that goes into being a social media luddite. But the fact is, to reach an audience a hundred years ago, you would literally have to get out a soapbox and stand on it to shout at people passing by on the street. Now there are instantaneous, free tools of mass communication and some are worried that these tools are more trouble than they're worth? In this light, Mashable has a nice story that rounds up many options for how social media has changed the game for (documentary) filmmaking, and it goes beyond just Twitter and Facebook:

Before the Internet, documentaries typically reached the public’s attention once they were featured in a film festival. Social media may have made it easier for filmmakers to get the word out about their work, but now even festivals are using social media to connect with filmmakers and their audiences. Jennifer Nedbalsky, the Program Manager for Human Rights Watch’s Film Festival, said the social networking site for group meetings Meetup is important for her community outreach. “It’s a wonderful way for audience members to involve friends,” said Nedbalsky. “It also multiplies the amount of people you can reach, while taking less work from audience members to share.”

There are probably a lot of other social media sites that could prove handy for filmmakers that Mashable doesn't cover. Other than Twitter and Facebook, which services and sites do you find useful for building and reaching an audience?

Link: How Social Media has Changed the Game for Documentary Filmmaking

[Illustration by Anne Helmond]

Your Comment


If you consider Yotube/Vimeo as social networks (which I definetely do) those two or any similar kind of video-sharing community-like sites are surely a great possibility to "build and reach an audience". I mean forget about the obvious part of actually uploading your videos (or teasers/trailers) the end it is a community of people who share roughly the same interests - ofcourse the specific interests vary - and so it is perfect for connecting with people who share your philosophy, the way you approach filmmaking or just shoot with the same equipment you do. Any case you did not only win a "social connection", but also audience.

Oh and I think that behind the scenes of big production are loved by the web-audience (I just remember one video on vimeo where they talk about the sound composition in Inception)

my 2 cents


September 23, 2010 at 10:54AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM



Those are absolutely social networks, and Vimeo in particular is a great community of filmmakers. I've done a horrible job of posting content to Vimeo in the past, but I'm looking forward to fixing that in the near future. Thanks for your thoughts!

September 23, 2010 at 9:04PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

i think another one is kickstarter and indiegogo these are literally making movies possible by crowdfunding. if preselling your movies isn't finding an audience then I don't know what is.

September 24, 2010 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM