Lights, Camera, Crowdsource

Lights, Camera, Crowdsource

A big-budget Hollywood filmmaker is enlisting Facebook and Twitter users to advance the plot of his next thriller, a crowdsourcing approach that suggests another way technology is altering every aspect of filmmaking.

Starting on July 25, D.J. Caruso, the director of the 2007 thriller “Disturbia” and this year’s action flick “I Am Number Four” among others, will ask social media users to post ideas for how the main character in his forthcoming film “Inside” can escape.

A trailer for the film shows a young woman waking up inside a locked, padded room with a laptop — courtesy of Intel and Toshiba — as her sole source for support. “Her only way out will be to bring you in,” the tag line reads.

Users can post ideas on the Facebook wall of the character, to be played by Emmy Rossum, or through their own Twitter account. Caruso will also select one “talented, well-connected person” from a pool of applicants on YouTube to make a cameo in the film’s final cut.

Caruso’s effort is one of several exploring ways to boost film content using mobile and social technology. Egyptian filmmaker Amr Salama is creating a documentary about the Egyptian revolution featuring video, much of it recorded by cell phone-using protestors, sent to him in response to a call on Twitter for footage.

Earlier this year the Sundance Film Festival presented its New Frontiers program, which focuses on how technology is being used to create interactive art and entertainment. Among other works featured in this year’s festival was “A Machine to See With,” in which users of a location-based app are sent out onto the streets and directed to navigate through several heists as the film’s protagonist.

But content is just the tip of the iceberg. Other film directors and video artists have been using mobile technology to experiment with film production and distribution. Earlier this year, well-known Korean director Park Chan-wook screened a 30-minute short film that he shot entirely on an iPhone.

Nokia recently announced the winner of the mobile-shot short film contest it presented in partnership with Vimeo. As high-definition video recording becomes a more common feature on handsets, we’re likely to see even more big-screen films shot on mobile phones.

In terms of distribution, the free video-sharing site VODO is developing a new film distribution model similar to Kickstarter, in which people are enlisted to offer monetary support for a film in exchange for a copy of the finished product, a private screening or even an executive producer credit, all depending on the amount contributed.

With traditional filmmaking an increasingly expensive enterprise, increasingly sophisticated mobile cameras and large-scale social media networks may help fuel alternative models of production and distribution, another way in which technology fosters innovation in new areas.

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