Edward Burns, director of Nice Guy Johnny, Newlyweds, and most recently The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, is utilizing social media not only to get in touch with his fan base about all sorts of topics related to filmmaking, but also get his films out to his audience without spending money on advertisement. He's even trying to get input from his Twitter followers on his upcoming film project. Recently he sat down with Sheri Candler to talk about making and distributing films for little money outside of the studio system, and we've got the second part of that interview below:
Convinced to get on Twitter by Ted Hope, the producer of indie gems like American Splendor, 21 Grams, and The Savages, Burns started using the site to bolster his fan base and connect with them on a deeper level. Burns explains his reasoning for being so open on social media:
When I'm in film school, I'm walking down 6th Avenue, and I'm about 20 yards behind Spike Lee, and all I want to do is run up to Spike and ask him a thousand questions about how he made She's Gotta Have It. And, I don't have the balls to approach Spike on the street, and I miss my opportunity. So, I thought, why don't I use Twitter as that. I'm Spike on the street -- kid out there in the Twitterverse is me 20 yards behind -- now he can approach me and ask the question.
He isn't only reaching out to his fans to offer insights about filmmaking, but also to participate in the filmmaking process by asking for feedback on his film ideas through Twitter. For his forthcoming project, he wants to take it a step further: entitled Winter/Spring/Summer/Autumn, his plan is to make a number of short films throughout the year and get feedback from his followers while he's making the film. Burns will let his Twitter followers weigh in on where they think story should be taken. Not only that, but he plans on casting some of his followers in small rolls. (Did you just go follow Edward Burns on Twitter? I did.)
One of the things that Edward Burns does so well is that he makes his films accessible and himself approachable. He uses VOD technology like Amazon Instant Video and iTunes to distribute them, social media to promote them, and very soon Kickstarter to fund them. He's using the tools that are ready and available -- and they're working. But why?
Many crowdsourcing campaigns fail. Important connections seem impossible to make. Most people never hear about that zombie rom-com western flick you shot last year that is available to watch instantly. So, why is Ed Burns successful? Through being open and available on social media, he's been fostering and expanding his network of indie film lovers, inspiring them with their own endeavors. He's been a champion of going out and making your film with the budget you have, and not worrying about all the people telling you that you need a certain amount of money to tell your story.
What do you think about his Twitter strategy? What about his use of crowd involvement with his next film?
- Edward Burns -- Twitter
- Edward Burns -- IMDb
- Nice Guy Johnny — Amazon
- Newlyweds — Amazon
- The Fitzgerald Family Christmas — Amazon