Sustaining independent filmmaking in the age of the internet : the case of audience building

MeiBner, N 2012, Sustaining independent filmmaking in the age of the internet : the case of audience building , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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The Internet has brought new hope to independent filmmakers - hope of turning filmmaking into a sustainable undertaking. The Hunt for Gollum recreates and extends a blockbuster movie on little financial resources. The Cosmonaut is funded with the help of its audience. 15Malaysia is distributed on the Internet in an attempt to circumvent censorship. All reached millions of people. Meanwhile, the questions what it needs to sustain independent filmmaking and how we may use the Internet to sustain independent filmmaking remain unanswered. This thesis tackles both problems. The thesis embarks with the purpose of identifying how independent filmmakers can use the Internet to sustain their work. Approaching this problem, I firstly discuss the term 'sustain 1 , trying to establish its meaning. While most debates about sustaining the arts still stress the importance of monetary matters, I reject such simplification. In an attempt to understand why people make films and what they need to do so, I interview seven independent filmmakers and two non-filmmakers, identifying audiences, self-actualisation, equipment, money, collaborators, time, ideas and knowledge as central needs and motivations of independent filmmakers. As this first research project unveils a rather complex picture, I decided to re-focus my central research question to only one of the identified areas, namely the audience, and ask: How can independent filmmakers use the Internet to build audiences for their work? I approach this question in two ways. I first discuss historical examples of the audience building efforts of independent films as well as basic implications the Internet has had on independent filmmaking. This is followed by an empirical study of the audience building efforts of the three projects mentioned above and three further contemporary independent film projects. Similar to the first, this second primary research project, too, adopts the epistemological assumptions of social constructionism and relies on semi-structured interviews for data collection. The thesis concludes with the suggestion of twelve principles how independent filmmakers may use the Internet to build an audience in the Internet age. For example, independent filmmakers must approach audience building as an active task and allocate resources to it. They should identify pre-existing audiences with a potential interest in a film's content and access them through opinion leaders, using news value to persuade opinion leaders of the newsworthiness of a film to their audiences. Filmmakers must offer ways for audiences to follow them directly. This also includes an ongoing personal and transparent communication as well as interaction with interested audience members. Eliminating accessibility barriers, collaboration and extending story and product also help the audience building process. Finally, filmmakers should not rely on the Internet only but also build audiences in the offline world. The thesis is mainly concerned with filmmaking practice. Its value hence lies in the presentation and discussion of how independent filmmakers may use the Internet for audience building purposes. Academically, it lays out a number of areas for further research into how independent filmmaking could be sustained and generally adds to the field of cultural entrepreneurship in the digital age by describing and analysing working processes of cultural entrepreneurs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Knudsen, E (Supervisor) and Cheetham, F (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2021 12:31
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 11:22

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