My time at SXSW was the trip of a lifetime. Experiencing the Austin culture alone was amazing, let alone the time at the festival. Overall my favorite part of SXSW was me being able to listen to famous actors/directors/ producers. I have an interest in the film industry and having the opportunity to interact with these people was incredible. According to many of these professionals, technology will change the future of filmmaking. Today more and more people are spreading their message through social filmmaking and posting them on social media sites like YouTube ie: documentaries like the recent Kony video. One component of social filmmaking is that the audience appreciates its authenticity that other television programs such as reality TV and websites don’t capture.
When Pantene wanted to promote their Beautiful Lengths campaign, they hired a company that specialized in documentaries called Flow Nonfiction to create a video that captured the campaign’s mission. After traveling to different high schools and taping teenage girls cutting their hair to donate to cancer victims, they posted a video on Pantene’s Facebook page. After a few weeks, the page received millions of Facebook fans. Pantene took this opportunity to interact with these fans by encouraging them to donate. They were able to “donate their hair” on Facebook, and the message would show up on the donor’s newsfeed and posted on their wall for their friends to see. In addition to sending an authentic message and reaching people on an emotional level, Pantene said that creating a documentary was better for them than a short commercial or regular advertisements because potential donors were able to view the video anytime they wanted and send it to as many people they wish. More and more companies are following in Pantene’s footsteps such as Tide who is just finishing up their video.
Filmmaker Ann Lewis was sitting behind me at a social filmmaking panel and I had the pleasure of talking to her for about fifteen minutes about the connection between technology and the future of filmmaking. She is now creating a website and social media to promote her videos. Actress Lisa Kudrow and a director at HULU discussed the presence and future of web series on the internet. According to them, this will be the future of entertainment as more and more people will decide what they watch instead of flipping through stations on the television. Director Kevin Smith talked about how implementing technology has changed his career. Currently he is focusing on an online podcast instead of directing. He said he prefers it this way because he can communicate with his fans and give them what they want instead of making a movie and hoping for the best. Travel channel star Anthony Bourdain uses Twitter to connect with fans of his show. He also said he looks at recommendations his fans’ tweets on where to visit next, what to eat, and where to stay. In addition he also makes his own videos not related to his show and posts them on his website to attract fans. He also said that he and his producers tweet drunk more often because he says his audience enjoys it.
The bottom line is that more and more companies are implementing technology to their particular brand. Their particular platform they use to convey their message to their audience base is depended on what their message is and what effect they want the message to have on people. There has been a substantial increase in social filmmaking to send these messages. Many companies ask for audience participation on their product such as live tweeting their opinion of the video or asking for donations. Out of all the panels I attended at SXSW they all emphasized AUDIENCE INTERACTION in order for the message to be successful, meaning that it reaches the targeted audience and that the audience wants to act. Filmmaking helps with audience interaction because upon viewing the video they are emotionally moved and most likely have an incentive to act.
Hello from SXSW! Our trip didn’t exactly start off as planned: our connecting flight was canceled, we were forced to take a 4 hour drive from Dallas to Austin, the airline lost our bags, and the weather has been frigid and wet. I’ve been calling it ‘South By So Wet.’
But once I’ve gotten into the convention center, I forgot all about our misfortune. One thing I’ve gathered about Texas so far is that the locals are very welcoming and show a level of hospitality that I don’t see much of in the north. Gary, a local soul food-nightclub owner allowed the group to have a late-night dinner, even though technically the restaurant portion of the venue was closed and some of us were under 21. The next night he even let us take his limo to go see the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Another aspect about the locals is the pride they have in their state. I’ve see many Texas flags displayed and Texas-tattooed arms. To be honest, I don’t even know what the Indiana flag looks like.
My favorite part of the trip so far has been the food. So far I’ve eaten chicken-fried chicken, fried okra, bbq, peach cobbler, sweet tea, chicken wing tacos, giant cupcakes, an Aussie pie, and award-winning pizza.
Even though the culture of Texas is great to experience, it is awesome to be surrounded by brilliant like-minded people all the time. I’ve mastered the craft of eavesdropping have met some really intriguing people. While on the shuttle to the hotel from the convention center, I talked to an employee who creates apps for a newspaper in Montreal called The Gazette. To him, it seems that even though less and less people are buying issues of the paper, many people buy editions of the paper on the weekends. Himself and his team are discussing the possibility of charging extra money for the weekend issues. Also, on the website, the readers have to pay a fee when they extend beyond the 20 page reading limit. According to his research, most people read approximately 10 pages during a weekday so he is thinking about dropping the limit to 10-15 pages so more people can pay for the paper.
I’ve attended many panels on design and multiplatform storytelling. One of my favorite panels was called “How Meaningful Design Can Change the World,” discussing designing non-profit websites. Because I have an interview with the development director at the Make a Wish Foundation when I return to Indianapolis this week, I figured this would be helpful. The speaker described many enemies on design such as ‘My Bottom Line,’ ‘the girl who just wants to make everything pretty,’ and ‘the code zombie.’ The key takeaway from the talk was that even though the website needs to look nice, the meaning matters more. In the end, the mission will evoke emotion to keep people engaged. The website is a marketing tool and you need to know your audience, goals, and impact ahead of time before the designing of the website. The goal is to keep the message clear and keep the audience focused. Lastly, a very important part of designing websites is collaboration and partnerships between the coders and the designers.
I also went to a panel this morning that was FANTASTIC. It was called Multiplatform Storytelling: Frontline War Stories. The panel discussed how different stories can be told different ways to engage the audience. One panelist, a professor at the USC film school said she uses ‘media cards’ to have her students use different forms of media to tell their stories. She lays cards on the floor with different icons resembling a medium on the them and they are forced to use that media to tell a story. One student had to tell a story through a video game. One panelist described the idea of theme parks to tell stories- an idea that has never occurred to me. She called theme parks the incubator of new technology. They captivate people because they create a powerful and fun experience. Another one of the panelists stressed the importance of using the audience as collaborators when making their product. He recently just directed Justin Bieber’s movie and will later film the movie GI Joe. Because many Justin Bieber fans were following him on twitter, he now had to make Bieber fans also GI Joe fans. He did this by having The Rock, one of the actors from the GI Joe movie, tweet to him. He also offered a “Fan Director’s Cut,” in which he allowed his Twitter followers to see hours of unseen footage of the Bieber movie and asked them what scenes they liked best and put those scenes into a second movie also seen by his followers. Key takeaways from the panel were that brands are successful when the audience thinks they own that particular brand. Another thing they talked about that was similar to the design panel I attended was to tell your story first- don’t be seduced by the different forms of technology you can use. Keep it simple and allow the audience to engage.
This year I have been studying public relations and marketing. Recently I have developed an interest in the idea of branding. It is difficult for a company to succeed in the business world without creating a certain image of themselves or brand. At SXSW they explore the idea of brands as patterns. According to one of the panels at SXSW, Brands as Patterns, media brands inhabit is iterative, without beginning or end and little permanency.
Today with the help of social media, does this help branding? With social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, people today feel closer to celebrities as they receive their daily updates. Companies also use social networks for constant advertising online. Their is also less of a need for critics for television shows or other forms of entertainment because many people turn to social networks to develop their personal opinions. At SXSW I will attend panel discussions on branding and marketing to discover if social networks are a tool for branding that are in a product’s best interest.
I first saw the video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by Jefferson Bethke about a month ago when it went viral. Many of my friends, mostly Christians, were sharing the video on Facebook, saying that he “was so right.” New York Times critic David Brooks, however, thought that Bthke should have spent a little more time discussing what Bethke stood for, and how changes should come about. Brooks’ said that when you want a change to be made, it is better to apply an old tradition to a new situation, rather than simply complaining that a change should be made.
I agree with Brooks in this sense. In the video, Bethke didn’t offer a solution to the problem. He didn’t mention that we should follow another religion or change our lifestyle, he simply complained about the current hypocrisy of the church.
Another mistake he made was that he didn’t do a lot of research before making his video. Many theologists later revealed his inaccuracies, saying that Jesus worshiped in a temple and preached religious doctrine, so he wasn’t trying to abolish religion. This caused Bethke to say that he agreed with the theologists 100 percent, making his argument flimsy. Without doing appropriate research and agreeing with critiques on his argument, I felt that Bethke is now a person who was just complaining about the world, not a revolutionist, which invalidates the video. If Bethke wanted to make a difference with his video, he should have been dedicated to the arguments he was making, not agree to the traditional school of thought after making the video.
I believe that Bethke really can’t be blamed. Like what was said in Brooks’ article, people today are always told to speak their minds, and I think this is what Bethke was doing. It isn’t even clear that he wanted to evoke change, he may have just wanted people to hear his view on the matter of current religion. But with that being said, I think that introducing a traditional method to solve this problem would have avoided the theologists’ valid critiques that basically caused Bethke to say, “Oops, nevermind then.”
I believe that participation in collective action movements is due to passions of the people, patriotism, and the accessibility of collective actions movements via social media. People join collective action movements when they have an incentive to do so. I feel that it is kind of like that video that was shown on the first day of class. The video showed a man dancing with a crowd watching. Finally a man joined and more and more followed. Later, people felt the urge to follow because they were the outsiders by not following. I feel like people join collective action movements when they feel the passion of the leader or leaders. Like what the video exemplified, the leader doesn’t start the movement, the first follower does. When protests or movements are organized and peaceful I feel that many people feel a surge of passion of the leaders and other followers and will support the effort. Many people make donations to PETA or volunteer efforts at a homeless shelter because they are passionate by the cause and want to make a difference.
Sometimes participation is due to patriotism. Many people start collective action movements when they feel that they want to act on their democracy. The subject of my activist profile, Jack Abbot, one of the leaders of InterOccupy, said that he joined the movement because he wanted people to remember that America is a democracy, and that it is the people’s duty to speak up when something is wrong. When this feeling is felt by others, it causes people to arise on current issues, such as the current Occupy movement.
Social networks allows social movements to be organized and condones communication within various movements across the world. I think many people join movements because they hear of them via social networks. People see issues online and feel passionate on the subject so they want to take part in a movement. Today with collaborations through movements such as InterOccupy make it easier for people to communicate and work together through a cause. Within a month of the Occupy movement, 82 countries were involved. I argue that this couldn’t have been possible without social networks because without social networks, collaboration between people involved in different parts of the world would be difficult.
If there is one question I could ask Lance Bennett, I would ask: “Considering that many young people seek self gratification (in the form of entertainment etc): Do you think there is any hope for the younger generation to be more civically engaged/informed?”