I was in a discussion today with Paul Osborne, Nathan Cole, Justin Hedges, Paul Barrett and few others on Twitter. Paul O said he was doing casting for his next film Favor and Nathan chimed in to say how exciting that was. I reminded Paul that not only should he be casting the best actors for the roles, but he should be ensuring that they have a strong social media presence as well and that in the contract, he should stipulate all involved in the production will be required to promote the projects to their network. This led to controversy…let me explain my position on this.
As an actor/director/producer involved in ultra low or low budget productions, online promotion is going to be one of your most powerful tools. The news about your great film will not just travel by itself (even it if is a masterpiece and it certainly won’t travel if it isn’t) and you alone will not be sufficient to seed it. If you are making choices about the people you work with, don’t just rely on their skills. You need people with a strong belief in the project, people who will give their all to the production, even after it wraps. Their network online is going to be very important for the success of the film you all made together.
At a recent keynote speech, uber producer Christine Vachon said her most recent contract stipulated that she and the rest of the production staff are required (in writing!) to promote the film in their social media networks. There is a requirement about tweets, Facebook posts and blog posts. A REQUIREMENT they have to participate. Christine is quite active on Twitter and I can absolutely see why her participation makes for a powerful ally when it comes to distributing the film. That same power comes from everyone on your production too. This position was also confirmed by a producer in the audience at a panel I sat on at NALIP. When I said everyone in the room should have a social profile, he said he always Google’s the names of anyone coming to work for him. If they have no presence online, they aren’t useful to him. Think about that.
An actor without a social profile is like an actor who has no headshot and just assumes they will make a decision when they see him in person. Waiting in the dark to be picked is NOT a good strategy. Offering up a good personal network is valuable currency because it takes time to build. Anything that can give you a leg up on a similarly talented person should be used. Duh! And as a producer, anyone who has a valuable network only helps your production. Research every person you hire.
Personally, I have no patience for people who disagree with this even though I am told by my colleagues not to be too hard on those who find this new phenomenon unnatural. Social media is a tool that is open to everyone, free to everyone, controllable by you and you can build helpful relationships with it that can change and inform your life. Why in the world would you fear this? Now, if someone says they just don’t know how to use it, that I can understand. But to deny that it matters, that it isn’t a seismic shift in the way the world works is just the resistance talking. Overcome it.
As an addendum to this post, please see these links for the benefits of using social media for actors