Just as movies are no longer delivered to theaters on celluloid, a new web- and mobile based service aims to provide a 21st century solution for Hollywood to test nascent film and television projects, while giving fans an unprecedented opportunity to be part of the green-light process. FilmFunds, which is based in Los Angeles, launches today at the Toronto International Film Festival® as an official sponsor, providing exhibiting filmmakers gratis research and marketing services. A new R&D paradigm for the entertainment industry, FilmFunds affords content owners and producers access to a database of 60 million moviegoers, utilizing crowd-sourced market research to replace the costly live test-screening model used since Hollywood’s Golden Era.
“Over the last decade we’ve seen how social marketing can make a film or TV show successful,” explains Co-Founder Shelly Palmer, a respected television producer, host and technology/media expert. “FilmFunds posits a new form of social marketing that occurs before a project is made. It offers a barometer and helps move content through the pipeline by creating an audience for it, giving millions of entertainment fans a stronger emotional connection by letting them become part of the creative process. FilmFunds effectively lowers the velvet rope between Hollywood and the public at large.”
Rather than funding projects, as its name may suggest, the mandate of FilmFunds is to pre-qualify film and TV content so that it may be financed and produced, serving as a scalable diagnostic tool for a range of producers and studios. The process begins with content owners/creators uploading material on a new prospective project, e.g., synopses, trailers, artwork, etc. FilmFunds members can review these materials and choose whether to “Like” a project, with positive results predicting an audience for it down the road.
“What immediately drew me to FilmFunds is the idea of creating a virtual marketplace where filmmakers, fans and financiers can all intersect – like a film festival held 365 days a year,” says filmmaker and documentarian Sean Stone, who serves as co-founder & CEO. “But rather than being exclusive, it’s democratic. If a producer has a concept, a script, a teaser and so on, they don’t need to be at the mercy of the traditional Hollywood gatekeepers telling them ‘what people want.’ They can take it directly to the marketplace and find an audience for it. As beneficial as FilmFunds will be for established filmmakers as well as studios, we can also be a springboard helping burgeoning filmmakers get discovered.”
The FilmFunds website is easily navigable by section: members can see current projects, search based on keywords, surf through each day’s top trailers, and choose which film or TV projects they’d like to evaluate. Projects are separated into three categories. In the first are materials on projects that members can help put into production. In the second are those already in production, or completed, which would benefit from member votes to get finishing, marketing and/or distribution funds. In the third category, FilmFunds provides a marketing portal where major blockbusters can gain support: enlisting members to spread the word, recruit friends and pre-sell tickets through websites like Fandango. There is also an FAQ page that answers questions typically asked by newcomers to the site, along with a Fee Card and their Terms page.
The FilmFunds mobile app features groundbreaking search technology enabling users to quickly assess content by using their camera. Patent-pending, real-time video recognition lets users snap a photo of a video trailer, which automatically returns information about the content. The mobile app offers the same functionality as the website in a more compact form and will be available on Apple and Android September 14th and BlackBerry handsets October 15th, with plans to expand to Windows and Symbian scheduled for Q4.
For their active participation, FilmFunds members can reap myriad rewards: from movie tickets and merchandise, to on-set visits and studio experiences, to opportunities to walk the red carpet with the stars at a film’s premiere, attend an afterparty, even receive special thanks in a film’s credits. A point system based on activities determines each member’s aggregate reward benefits.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, FilmFunds has partnered with Ipsos SA to invite all filmmakers exhibiting projects to upload their trailers, posters and other materials to the FilmFunds website and mobile app, where custom pages are created with these materials and information such as Festival screenings and the website for each film. At its booth, located at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 3rd Floor, FilmFunds is debuting its groundbreaking video recognition technology as well as Emotional ID (E-ID), which translates real-time facial reactions and emotions during test previews into measurable results.
Helping to “gamefy” crowd-sourcing tasks such as surveys to make them appealing, FilmFunds is also launching a “Golden Ticket” competition for audiences to use the FilmFunds mobile app to snap photos of movie trailers, posters and other materials, uncover golden tickets and win prizes. To activate the contest, they will be asked to complete quick surveys, administered by Ipsos, and diagnostic data collected will be provided to filmmakers who sign up for the site.
“I am delighted to have partnered with Ipsos to combine our cutting-edge technology with decades of market-leading experience in providing marketing research, media measurement, content, technology and social research,” added FilmFunds Co-Founder Shelly Palmer.