Five Ways Filmmakers Can Use Pinterest

It’s more likely than not that you’ve heard of Pinterest -- the fast growing social media network that lets folks create an online scrapbook of images they can share or re-share with others.  Being such a visual medium, it's no surprise many filmmakers are exploring ways in which they can put this new social media tool to use.  With that in mind, here are 5 ways filmmakers can use Pinterest to their advantage:

Share Your Film’s Influences

It’s not unusual for filmmakers to put together a visual scrapbook of inspiring and evocative imagery that communicates the texture, feel, and mood of the film they are aiming to create.  This is often shared with the DP, production designer, actors, etc., who might then share their own ideas with the filmmaker, and in the process create a general consensus of the movie's vision.  With Pinterest you can do this on-line.  You might create multiple boards -- one that focuses on make-up, one on locations, another on lighting, etc., and let folks be inspired by any and all.  By pruning and editing what you feel works and doesn't work you can come up with a rich and organic thought-ball that keeps everyone on the same page.  As you start going into production, crew members can add photos of the actual production versions to show how the inspiration translated into reality.

But it doesn't stop there.  These boards can be a rich and interesting bonus for viewers to explore and share-- and in so doing, turn on folks who might be interested in one of the individual images, perhaps re-pinned elsewhere, onto your film.  Imagine someone coming across a re-pinned 1970’s image of a rollerskating man you'd used as a style guide, clicking on the image and finding your 1970’s era film.  There are a lot of mental strands that lead into our movies, and by putting them out there for the world to see you can make it easier for like-minded folks to find the movie.

Make The Boards Part of The Story

I noticed Lance Weiler has a Pinterest profile, and that immediately got me thinking of the transmedia possibilities and how the story world itself could be enhanced by Pinterest.  Many folks have explored the idea of creating a character Facebook profile or blog, and Pinterest offers its own unique variation on the concept.

Looking at my friends' photo albums can often reveal their character and temperament in subtle and surprising ways.  You get to see how they “see” the world -- not only in terms of the pictures they take themselves, but also the kind of images they want to re-share (i.e the kind of e-cards someone tends to post).

What do your characters see?  What kind of clothes would they be interested in?  How do they view the world?  And if you were to take 10 snapshots of what holds their attention during a given day, what would they be?

Promote Your Movie

Use Pinterest to spread the word directly.  I was reading about this airline's promotional give away and thought how simple it would be to replicate the strategy for a film.

The gist -- the airline put up 5 boards with 45 numbered destination images that one could re-pin for a chance to win a free ticket.  They only counted the first 6 you re-pinned, but each week they picked a number and if you had re-pinned that numbered image you would be in the running.

Needless to say, something similar could be done by putting up 45 stills from your movie with various rewards offered (i.e free screening tickets, a DVD, a poster, etc. etc.).  By encouraging folks to share your images, you also encourage others to find out what the image is about and thus increase awareness of your movie.

As Sheri Candler points out  --

“• Statistics show Pinterest drives more referral traffic on the Web than Google+, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn combined. The beauty of pinning photos/videos is they link back to websites, thus driving traffic. They are no follow links, so it doesn't help with SEO, but any link that drives traffic to a site is good for awareness and conversion.”

Encourage Audience Participation

Create boards that are powered by your followers' enthusiasm and knowledge.  You can ask folks to pin sample 1940's era hair-do's for a character, or awesome cinematic locations in your city.  But going beyond this, you can try creative experiments -- like a crowd-sourced storyboard.  Give folks a scene from your script, and ask them to pin shots from movies that they think would express the mood and idea of a moment in the scene -- pretty soon you might have a close up from Leone, an establishing shot from Kurosawa, a fight scene from Boorman.  Once you've organized the shots into some semblance of a storyboard, you can try going out and shooting the scene by replicating the shots and framings suggested by users.  Not only would it be fun, but it would be a great way to get folks engaged in the filmmaking process and looking forward to the end product.

Show What You’re About

In the same way you can reveal who your characters are through the kinds of things they pin, show what you yourself are about.  You can show off stills from previous projects, books that have inspired you, and issues that are important to you.  By doing this not only will you express something about yourself, but you will also be creating a resource for others.  Ted Hope has a pretty great profile in this respect.  Not only do you get a sense of who he is, but exploring his boards is genuinely useful and interesting.

Pinterest may or may not be a fad, but being such a visual social media tool, it seems a natural fit for filmmakers.  Putting out an image or re-pinning an image is joining a larger image web that connects you to folks far and wide, giving you the potential to make all kinds of interesting and unexpected discoveries.  As with any social network, the more you contribute to it the more you can benefit from it.  So give it a try and see if it works for you.

Have you tried it yet?  Can you think of other great ways Pinterest can be used by filmmakers to promote their films or facilitate the filmmaking process?  Let us know below!

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Your Comment


I loathe Pinterest.

Mashable does enough outright shilling for the site - now you guys have to join in?

March 22, 2012 at 8:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Funny cuz I love pinterest - to each their own. Great post imo.

Even if you don't like pinterest you CAN'T deny its power to bring concepts in front of an audience. My girlfriend pin's something and within a few hours 2 dozen other people notice.

March 22, 2012 at 11:13PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Jordan Carr

Thanks for sharing!
Just joined pinterest and i think it is perfect for a project i wanted to do since a year or so.

Posting 2 Photos everyday about what i think the day will be and how it actually was.
Also a great platform for marketing and another source of sharing and inspiration!

March 23, 2012 at 4:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Idea's such as these scare and intrigue me. It can be a great asset to a filmmaker, but what if the filmmaker is a hack? It allows an someone to draw on the creativity of others without any substantial connection between the two. Perhaps I love 1940's hair-do's and so I contribute my entire photo collection of 1940's hair-do's to a filmmaker making a 1940's period piece, and when I finally see the movie, the hair-do's suck! I've now aided in the demaneing of 1940's era hair-do's and set the entire fashion back another sixty-three years! It's quite a risk, but alternately it could put 1940's hair-do's back on the map! Decisions decisions... BTW the mispeling of "demeaning" was a hair joke.

March 23, 2012 at 5:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think your fear of a "hack" using the internet is certainly going to happen and already has but it is nothing to be afraid of. If they ruin the 1940s hairdo in their film then most likely their "hack" film doesn't get watched much. There is the obvious that no one else will make your vision other than you, that is why people say Lucas(not a hack) ruined the star wars franchise but isnt it his vision?

Bad movies get made every year but the cream rises to the top every time.

March 27, 2012 at 6:41AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I wouldn't worry about hacks (people, not internet trickery)...hacks will always screw it up and get it wrong, leaving the discerning people to appreciate your work even more. Many newer directors, dps...etc...are adamantly against input from outside b/c they feel threatened, that they might appear less than perfectly knowledgeable...etc...or worse---that they think they know better. The idea of getting ideas from the outside could be a HUGE benefit---shot ideas (storyboarding), hair and makeup, production design, character design... If it's all crap, if you ask for something from the 70's and you get something out of period, or the wrong mood for what you're going for...ignore it.

A couple weeks ago, I did some 2nd unit, photography b-roll stuff at magic hour. I had 2 shots I had to get (one at the DP's request, and one for the director), and a couple I wanted myself...and then I asked my 1st and 2nd AC's for ideas. Both of them had GREAT shot in particular was incredible! And I give full credit wherever it is due (thanks Drew and Jake), but who DPed and operated? I did. If it's your film, if you're directing, or your department (art department, cinematography, wardrobe...etc...) are the filter for ideas, culling out the bad ones.

March 30, 2012 at 3:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura

Boards on pinterest are wonderful for defining the feel of your film. Quickly convey a sense of what you want your film to visually portray. Couldn't agree more with point one. I also think it's great for getting in the mood for writing... writing something dark, brooding, mysterious? Post a bunch of related photos, and simply stare into the void for a bit. It works for me.

March 23, 2012 at 10:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Rev. Benjamin

Ridley Scott could have definitely benefited from Pinterest... Not so sure about Ripley Scott though...

March 25, 2012 at 10:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

David Franciscus

heh, thanks for pointing that out, fixed. I've got 'Alien' on the brain.

March 26, 2012 at 12:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

E.M. Taboada

the missing feature from pinterest is the ability to make your pinboard private or semi private. My wife complains because she will pin a dress from then it gets purchases before she can go back and pick her favorite to buy. I also found a similar service and it allows for private boards.

March 27, 2012 at 6:47AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Thank you Nic for the clipix link, that actually soots me better than pinterest. My wife enjoys pinterest and she loves to publicly share her ideas and pins with the world, but personally I wanted something a little more private. What if I wanted a amazing idea I saw for a potential short for my eyes only? Seems like clipix is the way to go. Thanks again.

March 29, 2012 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


interesting article. I used "private" online bookmarks to put together my own visual scrapbook of inspiring stuff and moods; now im using pinterest - because of you ;-) THANKS! :-D

March 28, 2012 at 5:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Amin Oussar

The pinterest interface is pretty ugly and cluttered. As people in a visual medium, this is the kind of thing we think about. (That being said, as much as I detest the FB interface, it was better than myspace b/c you have all these non-visually oriented people being in control of their own fonts and backgrounds, which was painful.) It's too hard to look at...I mean, look at the itunes browse view or instagram...both of those have the similar browse functions (one for album covers, one for single still pics...but it doesn't have all those text titles between them, or little pictures at the bottom...)

That iPad drawing app written about elsewhere on nofilmschool has a better interface for the same sort of thing (although for sketchbook albums or whatever and not "pins", but still...)

March 30, 2012 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura

I like the platform. Very interesting:)

April 2, 2012 at 12:14AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


That's some great advice! And, advice taken :) Started pinning images to storyboard our new short film, "Express Checkout". Thanks @Nofilmschool [ ]

April 5, 2012 at 4:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


For the same stuff, i prefer Springpad...

April 17, 2012 at 11:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


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October 26, 2013 at 4:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM