IMdB and the Great Social Network Debate

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Sep 16th, 2011
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The Internet Movie Database

I am something of a stats junkie, have been ever since I used to come top in French at school (my one and only academic achievement!!), so when the International Movie DataBase (imdb) was set up, it was a shoo-in that I was going to be interested. To understand the depths of my love for the cinematic arts, you need to know a few facts.

First of all, I am the daughter of a successful professional actress, most of you will never have heard of her. My mother was not up there in lights above the title, but somewhere down in the middle of the credits. Films, television and the stage were not just entertainment at home, they were a way of life. After my father passed away in the late seventies they became almost the sole source of income.

My mother did movies. I can trace my educational progress through various films. For instance, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate paid for a year’s tuition just as I was about to take my O Levels. Television paid the bills, and it has had a surprisingly long lasting impact. My mother still receives royalties from work she did over forty years ago. I could go on for hours about the impact of the high quality productions she worked on that are still sold around the world today, but that would be a digression.

Films and drama/comedy series on television were, and to a certain extent still are, a way of life. IMdB feeds and extends my knowledge nicely. Firstly, I used the database to set up my own list of films I enjoy. Then the powers that be over at IMdB set up IMdB Pro. Stats junkie heaven. My luxury indulgence to myself is my annual subscription to Pro. I love it, I access it almost every day. I have contributed to it as well as written reviews on films that I have seen.

I have spent a lot of time on both sides of the fence, Pro and non-pro, and I got to thinking about the database itself. I truly have a unique position. An outsider who is not quite outside and not exactly inside the world of cinema and television. I am lucky to have many friends who are on both sides of the fence, and this is what I have observed from marketing and spreading the word.

Pros, you do need to do more than just put your details up on Pro and hope like hell that an agent is going to spot you and buy your work etc. Agents could well be interested, but (and I probably won’t be popular for saying this), agents do not put bums on seats in movie theatres and ticket money in your hot little hands. They are a step closer to the goal of selling your movie and your services, nothing more.

There is a vast, largely untapped resource out there who will put money in your pockets and keep the wolf from the door. The fans. Communicate with them, interact with them, and best of all, encourage them to review your work. There is a well-founded and well-thought out argument that 1,000 true fans can sustain an Artist to make a living.

These are people who admire your work so much, that they will jump into the car and drive hundreds of miles to see your latest film, they will buy your DVD, they will talk about your work with almost anyone who will listen, they will recommend you to all their friends too, because they love your stuff. It really does work.

If I hadn’t been flat broke this week I would have jumped on a plane to Oldenburg to go and see Henry Barrial’s newest film Pig, again.

Why would I do this? Well, for one, it’s a damn fine movie and I want to support the guys who made it. Two, it’s fun. A friend was going to come with me, unfortunately, she is equally broke. I know the guys who are there for the film. It could have been party time. Everyone who knows me well, knows I like to party.

I have seen the effect of true fanship in action. It is powerful. Sure you can stack up a pile of wonderful reviews in hundreds of magazines, but at the end of the day, someone saying to their mates on a Friday night ‘let’s go to see this movie’ is a far more immediate and quantifiable recommendation.

This whole thing hangs together only if there is a symbiosis between fans and the pros. Fans, if you like the work, you have to say so. IMdB is the perfect platform. It’s were movie fans go to see what to see next. So if you love someone’s work, do not be afraid to say so. You have an opinion, share it.

The mainstream will always attract hordes of people to express an opinion. Indies cannot compete on volume, what they can do is reach out to the people who are thoroughly dissatisfied with remakes, and repetitious sequence movies and a whole host of lame and predictable ideas. Such audiences tend to be tech-savvy and inclined to trust their peers.

Social networking is free, and if you have something to say, people will want to follow you and interact with you. They will buy your products and share the love. It costs you nothing, except some time and effort. Making use of all that IMdB has to offer will make a difference to your campaign. Go on, what are you waiting for?

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