The Power of Community in Film

communityWhile reading a book on habits, I came to a realization.  If filmmakers are to survive this chaotic and rapidly changing time in our industry, the most important thing we can do is learn and grow into community leaders.

The time has passed that we can rely on the regular system to help the best filmmakers emerge.  The studio system is broken, and its discovery methods are dying.  Viewers have become lost in a sea of choices, and often retreat back to what they know as opposed to going out and discovering new entertainment.  The deals being offered to new filmmakers for V.O.D. subscription services are often nowhere near where they need to be in order to make a living as a filmmaker, and far too often filmmakers lack a way of even getting the money they put into the movie back, much less make a profit to continue to eat and make the next projects.

We know all of these problems, but no one has really offered a solution.  I think the solution is for filmmakers to stop being solely focused on their art, and really spend time developing a community around themselves and their message.

Film has a unique power to influence us all, we’re essentially being put into a windowless room and fed a series of images that not only tell us a story, but allow us to peer inside the mind of the artist creating the work.  From this, we can glean that all filmmakers are artists, and true artists have a unique vision and something to say about the world.

This vision is what every great community leader needs, a vision to unite behind.

The tools have finally arisen to make a filmmaker truly independent, assuming they can foster the right community, and continue to promote their work to that community.  If a filmmaker budgets correctly, and builds a community large enough, they could finance their projects through Crowdfunding, distribute them through V.O.D. platforms and other DIY distribution outlets and make enough to support themselves on a meager standard of living just from their communities, and sharing their art  with those they’ve built a community around.

Filmmakers need to network, and build their social ties in order to succeed in this industry.  They need to find their audience, and engage with them.  Make themselves available, show their work and truly talk to them, and engage with their audiences.  Successful artists need to cultivate a following of their own, and that is the essence of community building.

Really, it’s the only way to be a truly independent artist.  Such a feat takes quite a lot of time, and a liberal helping of luck.  If a filmmaker has enough of a following, they could even support themselves by continually creating high quality projects on youtube, especially with their new subscription services.  Many of the more successful YouTubers have done just that.

Admittedly, the ad revenue from Youtube is miniscule, so filmmakers will often need to find another way to monetize.  Luckily there’s a new crowdfunding platform specifically for video creators.  The platform is called TubeStart, and it focuses on the crowd funding needs of the online video creator, offering fixed goal, flex funding, and even subscription funding models.  Filmmakers really should check it out, it can be a great way to monetize your projects and engage with your community.  It’s still in it’s infancy, but it will be interesting to see what emerges.

People need to feel involved with the artist for them to find true success.  Essentially, any successful artist needs to think of themselves as a brand.  They need to work with people to further their personal brand, and foster an involvement from their communities.

To really create the system change in Hollywood, we need to start a movement.  We finally have the tools to create a truly independent industry, but in order to actually succeed in what we hope to do, we need leaders.  In order to create real change, it can’t just be the few preaching.   A true movement needs a few leaders creating new leaders, who then create even more new leaders, until the movement propagates itself and becomes the change it always needed to be.  We should be teaching filmmakers to lead.  We should be teaching filmmakers to become pillars of their community and create the real change that needs to happen in the industry around them.   That, my friends, is the only real way we will change the industry as it needs to change.

So In this blog, I’ve offered many ideas to help change the the industry, with little action to help do so.  That changes now.  With the help of a few excellent Co-Organizers, I’ve started a meetup group in which I hope to propagate the beginnings of this community.  It’s the first step in many that we’ll be announcing over the coming weeks and months.  Our first meetup is in March, and I hope to see all of you there.  San Franciscan readers, please join the meetup by going to