Anyone on Twitter knows the power of the medium. We’ve seen one person call on his community to raise money for someone in need. We’ve witnessed the near instant display of support for Iranian free speech. And we observe daily big and small examples of crowdsourcing.
But one of the coolest demonstrations of Twitter’s power is its recent use in movie making. For Erik Proulx, the man behind Lemonade, Twitter aided in casting, staffing, equipping, transporting, and promoting this soon to be documentary.
Having connected with hundreds of unemployed advertising people on his blog Please Feed the Animals, Erik was inspired to tell their stories of life after exile.
“I thought I’d end up making a simple video of people sharing what happened to them and how they dealt with losing their jobs. Something with production qualities similar to what you see on YouTube,” he explained over coffee.
Clearly Erik wasn’t thinking big enough. Using Twitter to spread the word, a request for personal stories yielded 75 full-blown responses in a matter of days. Picture Park, a Boston production company, saw the conversation online and volunteered its production services to film people telling their stories. Another Twitter follower from Sony Pictures forwarded to Erik the name of a contact at a camera rental house willing to donate equipment. And in a virtual coup, after Erik mobilized a few Twitter friends to @reply Virgin America and ask the company to contribute airfare, the airline came through.
“It took Virgin America all of two hours to respond and offer up free flights for the Boston based film crew to fly to Los Angeles to record subjects who lived on the west coast,” says Erik, still surprised at the impact a few tweets can have.
Lemonade is in final production as I write this. But the role of Twitter continues. Enter Darrell Whitelaw and team (see Darrell’s comment below) who’s building a website, still in its early stages, that will house the film and offer an interactive experience where users can upload and share their personal stories via video. Where did Erik and Darrell meet? You guessed it.
Lydia Dishman, a Twitter friend of mine who I met during Wednesday evening’s #editorchat, noticed my tweets about the trailer and instantly asked for an introduction to Erik so she could write a piece for Fast Company.
And the beat goes on. The day after Erik and I met, HBO contacted him asking for a description of the finished film for its consideration. While anyone would want visibility for their movie, Erik has decided to eschew any distribution (festivals, theaters) if it means he can’t put it online. “I certainly don’t want anyone who’s lost a job to have to pay to see this film,” he explains.
From the trailer, Lemonade looks incredibly promising: genuine, inspiring, beautifully filmed. It’s a lesson in re-invention and transformation. But just as important, it’s a lesson in how much you can accomplish when you add social media to the mix.
Lemonade the movie. Conceived by Erik Proulx. But brought to you by Twitter.
What’s the best project you’ve seen made possible by Twitter or social media?