This film brought to you by Twitter

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?

20 comments
Ric Allendorf
Ric Allendorf

Edward, this is such a powerful example of what can be accomplished with a little awareness of the tools that exist today.

I identify too well with the people in this film, having gone through very similar circumstances recently. I've seen friends in the same situation turn themselves around and start following their dreams - a surf inspired clothing shop that bloomed overnight, a new bakery that offered up it's business plan to the masses for critique, etc.

I am more motivated now than ever to find new and unexpected relationships through the social networks that can make my long-held dream of illustrating for children's books and programming a reality - and it has already started to show promise with just a few tweets. It's the right time to take chances and believe in mutual support of this amazing, diverse body of people using Twitter.

Best regards and thank you for this post.
Ric Allendorf

dotsy
dotsy

erik, you are a good man. a really good man.

Jake Yarbrough
Jake Yarbrough

Edward,

I have been looking for "Return on Generosity" stories and will continue to do so over the next couple of days.

It really seems like an idea and/or era of "Corporate Karma" is what's at work here.

Jake
.-= Jake Yarbrough´s last blog ..I want to hear your opinion =-.

John Bardos
John Bardos

Thanks!

This is a fantastic story. It is great to see how Twitter can make the world a little smaller. And even better, I love to hear how creative projects get off the ground.

It sounds like the people in the film are happier in the end for having lost their jobs.
.-= John Bardos´s last blog ..Alan Perlman Gets Paid to Travel the World =-.

Lisa Hickey
Lisa Hickey

I’ve stopped telling people how Social Media changed my life because they think I’m crazy ☺ But last fall, Erik and I both found ourselves without jobs. A post on Facebook, led to coffee in Davis Square. We hadn’t spoken in 10 years. He told me about Please Feed the Animals, and asked me to come to an online chat on his blog. I did, and a woman by the name of Sally Hogshead got online and said to me “Have you tried Twitter?” Got on Twitter, and Edward Boches (whom I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years) said “so glad you’re here”.

When Erik first told me he was making the film, my tweet about it hooked him up with David Cohen (the guy in the film who changed his gender) and @virginamerica. Two tweets, my return on generosity for what Erik did for me.

Thanks, Edward, great post, as always. SO nice to connect with you again after all this time. DO write about “return on generosity”.
.-= Lisa Hickey´s last blog ..blinker =-.

Cathy
Cathy

It's been a while since I checked in here but I'm so glad I did today. I was in need of a little creative boost and reading about this movie, how it came to be and the people it profiles, just inspired me to grab an idea that's been bouncing around my head for a while and throw it out to the twitter world.

Thanks for re-igniting my creative energy.
Cathy
.-= Cathy´s last blog ..The Never B4 Word Spreads! (Thanks to You) =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Jake:
I have tweeted the line "return on generosity is the new metric" but never did a post on it. I will think about that. There are plenty of examples. Send me any that you know of.

Glad you are liberated.

Edward

Jake Yarbrough
Jake Yarbrough

Edward,

I was planning to register a simple "thank you" for bringing this to light. Having recently launched my own company, as a result of a layoff, and feeling free to move to a city I've always dreamed of living it, is another testimony to the liberation expressed in this trailer.

While I can't wait to see the full version, something stopped me in my tracks.

Your latest comment about the notion of "return on generosity" is breathtaking.

Have you written about this recently and I've just missed it? (In making the transition from layoff to company owner has kept me from regularly reading my favorite blogs.)

I want to learn/understand more. The idea is very powerful.

Thanks for kick starting my mid-morning.

Jake
.-= Jake Yarbrough´s last blog ..I want to hear your opinion =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Adam:
This is so true. For a while now I've been trying to sell people on the idea of "Return on generosity," as the new metric. Ask and you shall receive. Give and you shall receive even more. Not sure that everyone understands that yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Adam Wohl
Adam Wohl

It was MIR's pleasure and honor to work on Lemonade with Erik, an honor that was even more gratifying for me when I learned that a friend of mine, Kurtis Glade (also met through Twitter and whose mug is in the first frame, above), was being featured in Erik's documentary. And though I hate to take anything away from the sheer pleasure derived from giving, take a minute to think about how Twitter has the capacity to deliver return in a karmic fashion. I'm helping a guy out, but how many people have I met through my involvement in Lemonade? What kind of karmic returns am I getting? Help someone and find out.

edward boches
edward boches

Leo:
An important point that you make. Content, ideas and creativity remain king. In another year or two there will be so many conversations and communities all vying for attention and participation that we'll need dialogue, content, executions and programs that excite us, provoke us and stimulate us. Or they'll be invisible.

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

Nicely shot. Great storytelling. Very powerful. While I appreciate the role of Twitter here, it's also a reminder that content is king. You could promote this anywhere and it would catch fire. Thanks for sharing!
.-= Leo Bottary´s last blog ..Coming Soon: More Insights =-.

Stuart Foster
Stuart Foster

The gates are closing on this kind of awesomeness so take advantage of it while you still can. However, really cool to see the collaboration/development of this process.

Awesome work Erik...can't wait to see what the final result looks like :).
.-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..Cooking Up Some Patience =-.

Erik Proulx
Erik Proulx

Here's another example of how Twitter can be the connective tissue of human contact: In almost 15 years in advertising (10 of them in Boston) I had exactly zero conversations with Edward. He did his thing. I did mine. There was simply no reason for us to communicate. And now, because of Twitter, our worlds have overlapped in a profound and meaningful way. Thank you, Edward, for being such and advocate of Lemonade, PFTA, and social media's incredible power to connect with the world.
.-= Erik Proulx´s last blog ..Proud And Happy – By Kathryn Proulx =-.

Darrell Whitelaw
Darrell Whitelaw

Thanks for being such a strong supporter of lemonade. However I can't take all the credit for the development of the microsite or the soon to be launched final online experience. There are a few hands turning the gears at MIR that have a huge part in making this all happen. Adam Wohl (@adamwohl), Tony Santos (@tsmuse). Chad Leddy (@chadxmerch), and others not on Twitter have all put in their time and abilities.

We appreciate the good look though!
.-= Darrell Whitelaw´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

C.C. Chapman
C.C. Chapman

Wow! What a great story and I can't wait to see the movie. Having gone through a layoff myself that changed my direction in life I can relate.

Thank you for sharing this!!
.-= C.C. Chapman´s last blog ..Life is Good =-.

Jim Mitchem
Jim Mitchem

This is a great story. Sad, but great. When I had that 'aha' moment re: Twitter last December - it wasn't because of how much money I could make here. Nor how my clients might benefit from the idea of real-time communications. It was for the ability to connect human beings like nothing in history. Erik, Darrel, Lydia you - I feel blessed to know you all now. All because of some 1's and 0's that float across the air and connect human beings.

And yes, this trailer is amazing. I can't wait to see the film.
.-= Jim Mitchem´s last blog ..Band of the Month =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Darrell:
Thanks for that. Appreciate that you are spreading the credit around. Makes the argument for tribe via twitter even more convincing. Hopefully they all get the credit they deserve.

edward boches
edward boches

C.C.
Yes, a great story on multiple levels. The courage showed by the many who went through this, the willingness of Erik to create PFTA and to tell their stories, and finally, the amazing role of social media which continues to astonish in all that it offers in terms of connection, community, and most importantly possibility. Of course, you know that.

edward boches
edward boches

Jim:
One of the things that interests me is how all of this is the new creative platform. I'm still stunned by how many people in what we used to call "traditional" haven't aggressively embraced it. Sure they get a Twitter account and reluctantly post a few items, but if you look at the ability to crowdsource, co-create, tap into new technologies, and discover fresh thinking, the ideas you start to have for what's possible come rumbling through the mind. I can't tell you how many people I know who have simply migrated from scouring old award show annuals for their source of ideas to sitting in front of YouTube all day for their source of ideas. Instead, they could be living and exploring a space where they can discover the thinking and meet the people who might help and inspire them to invent new ones.

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