As Twittamentary is a crowd sourced documentary, the the Twitter Wall at IRL screenings has become an integral part of the live Twittamentary experience.
It initially provided a prompt to remind the audience that the use of phones to tweet while watching is strictly encouraged. We’re all so conditioned to turning phones off (or at least putting them on silent) in the Cinema that this reminder has often been essential in encouraging live interaction (or “twitteraction”) during screenings.
This was a very important aspect of our plans to experiment with crowd sourcing at every possible stage in the creative process. Through 2011, this twitter wall feedback from the rough-cut, or “beta”, screenings provided input into the next cut of the film. We did 15 of these beta screenings and 15 iterative new cuts between each screening to create the final crowd sourced edit.
I’m just finishing Seth Godins “We Are All Weird” in which he writes:
The biggest cultural shift that the Internet has amplified is the ability to make an impact on our own culture
It’s a keen insight, and one which the Twitter Wall highlights in its role as a creative conduit. It’s enabled the audience members at those 15 early screenings to become intimately involved in the film making process. This goes way beyond the traditional movie studio “rough-cut” screening process, where a couple of different edits will be shown to test the films ending and fineness the chances of a big opening weekend. In Twittamentary, the twitter feedback really did help create the final cut. Themes were added, cut, expanded and made more concise. All blended seamlessly (we hope) with Siok’s expert curation skills.
However, as cool as this is, for me, the Twitter wall provides an additional deeper element to the documentary movie experience.
The Twitter Wall makes the social, and sociable, aspect of the film entirely visible and completes the interactive experience. It makes transparent the realtime connections that the audience members make with each other and with the cast while they watch them on screen.
This interaction with the cast breaks a constraint that all traditional documentaries are bound by: time. As soon as the footage of a documentary is captured it becomes dated. Naturally, the greater the time between the footage being shot and the screening, the more dated it becomes. With Twittamentary, this is important as the original footage was shot in 2010, a couple of years before the movie was finally released. However, very often during screenings a cast member will respond to a tweet from the audience with an up to the minute update on their story or share an, in-hindsight, insight.
A traditional, static, one way, documentary becomes a real-time, interactive experience where the cast joins the audience at the screening via twitter while they watch.
A living, interactive, real-time, documentary. Now that’s Social Media.