Crowdsourcing: The New Trend In Filmmaking

For the past two years, Amazon has been using its large-scale consumer tracking and data management skills to produce its own movies and TV shows, as opposed to the traditional Hollywood practice of filtering creative ideas with focus groups. Through crowdsourcing, Hollywood based Amazon Studios has been creating its original content by receiving thousands of scripts, posting trial videos on Amazon Instant Video, getting feedback from millions of customers and adjusting scripts accordingly. Zintro experts discuss whether this approach will keep Amazon ahead of its major competitors.

Dan Gurlitz, an expert in home entertainment marketing, doesn’t find the testing model to be very unique considering how film companies have been integrating consumer feedback into their productions. “Early pre-release screenings, testing consumer response, have long assisted studios and filmmakers in how best to secure the best possible results when the property finally releases. Even the testing of how different endings play out has resulted in modifications of the final cut,” he states. Since audiences may not always know what they want, Gurlitz doesn’t really expect this strategic analysis to turn into successful movies. “Doing so more openly and in a more public forum with strategic analysis applied earlier may well result in being ahead of the proverbial propeller of consumer opinion. Alternatively it may backfire under the guise of too many chefs,” adds Gurlitz. “Many of the greatest hits in the history of film became hits because one director with one creative team came up with an idea and executed it with a magic touch, a touch that somehow translated perfectly to viewing eyes.”

As PMI consultant, Andressa Chiara, indicates, any strategy that takes advantage of the stream of information will have better chances of success in the near future, therefore Amazon is ahead of its competitors. “Experiences like ‘Dr. Horrible’, ‘The Guild’ and other web-based audiovisual productions have already proved to be very successful in reaching great audience numbers and creating faithful fans. To do so, the production must necessarily – and I couldn’t stress this enough – be low-budget, no return on investment expected,” explains Chiara. “A mix of YouTube and Hollywood, in which all parts can be clients and suppliers, at different points of the trajectory of filmmaking: the scriptwriters, the producers, the cast and crew, the viewers. This seems to accompany a major wave of merging roles in the media market, and also merging aspects of life: the professional, the personal.”

According to David A. Etienne, a 20+ year veteran of media and advertising, this latest foray into film production is little more than a natural extension of the rapidly evolving social media environment. “Amazon is taking on rivals like Netflix and Hulu in the proposed deal with Epix for streaming video. With the softness of the US movie market and increased competition, Hollywood will continue to be very choosy about how and where it spends its money,” Etienne notes. “These kinds of deals will produce a win/win for everyone – Amazon can establish a beach head in the streaming video marketplace; small, independent producers with lots of talent and something to say will have the chance to be heard; consumers will get more choices not only in content but in how they interact with it and the risk takers in the Hollywood establishment can quietly and strategically get in on the ground floor of this new trend.”

By Idil Kan


Zintro, Inc

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