I am in Austin, TX, at the South X Southwest Festival for one more dayÂ and the weekend has been great. We did a fantastic screenwriting panel this Saturday, talking about the future of the film businesss for writers. I am such a big believer in do-it-yourself. Enterpreneurial spirit is what it’s all about — and always has been in the film business. When that spirit meets the new technology, amazing things can happen.
The South X Southwest Festival started as a music festival, and music is still its biggest component. Later in the week the music portion of the gathering will get underway, but the initial section is devoted to film and interactive worlds. And the combining of the two makes sense. As Indie filmmakers reach out to promote their work, the use of the Internet goes beyond just spreading awareness of one’s project.
One panel I got a chance to catch was the “Lonelygirl15” creators. These are three smart guys from L.A. who decided to use YouTube to create a hoax — the fictional web cam diary of a girl that immediately became a sensation when viewers tried to guess whether she was real or not. When the hoax was revealed, the guys kept going, launching what is now a “Lost”-like web series that is driven as much byÂ its viewers asÂ its creators. Half game/half David Lynch soap opera, the show is supercharged by the fans who create their own videos to support the show –Â and even create new characters that spider out from the ones that exist. And the response is overwhelming: 1 million viewers a week and amazing fan loyalty. It is a show that got the creators representation at CAA, numerous offers to create TV series by the major networks, and film deals, including the eventual movie version of the series.
These guys do what we have been talking about all along, stressing the importance of knowing the basics of storytelling. This includes GETTING ATTENTION. This is what creating a great logline and poster for your movie is all about. In a future where there will be more product not less for audiences to choose from, how are you going to make your project stand out? Even when we choose not to write a film for the major studios, to go outside the system to write and make our projects, the basic rules are the same! Why should we watch your movie? But as the Lonelygirl15 group proved, there is always a new way.
There are more opportunities for writers and filmmakers than ever before. But the rules are what they always have been: Get my attention, tell me a compelling primal story. That and be open to all the tools available as a storyteller.
What a great experience to be here — and to be really excited about what the next few years will hold. Thank you, Austin! And thanks to the organizers of the festival. See you all next year.