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Tribeca fosters social ties

Social networking sites front-and-center at fest

At this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, social networking sites are front-and-center, seen by both festival organizers and independent filmmakers as crucial to getting noticed in a crowded field.

The fest created an online “Social Media Toolkit” that showcases strategies and how-tos on the most effective ways to optimize platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, GetGlue, Tumblr and Foursquare.

Tribeca chief creative officer Geoffrey Gilmore said he and Tribeca chief operating officer Jon Patricof conceived the idea of the toolkit to help correct “presumptions that people know what they’re doing” and to clarify how to employ the various tools.

“A festival has always been a place to promote your work,” Gilmore added. “It’s not just how you deliver it but how you get visibility.”

Rider Strong, an actor (“Boy Meets World”) turned filmmaker with a short at the festival called “The Dungeon Master,” believes such promotional tools are essential. “That’s just what a director needs to do nowadays,” he said. “Tap into their fanbase and respond to them and build up that following.” With almost 14,000 followers of his own, Strong said social media is especially necessary for shorts filmmakers, who have few other ways to push their content.

Marc Schiller, CEO and founder of digital marketing firm Electric Artists, who is moderating a Tribeca Talks panel on social media called “Amplify the Message,” said it’s not enough to simply put up a Facebook page or Twitter account.

“Filmmakers have to engage and inspire their audience and make them feel a part of the film with an intimacy and closeness that allows them to be true advocates of their success,” said Schiller, who worked on the digital campaigns for “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and Eddie Burns’ VOD release “Nice Guy Johnny.”

“When studios crowd-source, it’s hard to feel a connection,” Schiller said. “But when Eddie is doing it, you feel like he’s doing it with a glass of wine in his hand, asking for feedback just as he might in a screening room with his closest friends and colleagues.”

For his Tribeca closer, the micro-budgeted “Newlyweds,” Burns chronicled the production on Twitter, where he’s got more than 16,000 followers, and held a contest on his website, soliciting poster art and song submissions from fans.

Another filmmaker, Richard Cunningham, who made a zombie short called “Year Zero,” went all out after receiving emails from Tribeca about the importance of social media: He created an interactive game on Facebook called “Celebrity Zombie Wednesday“; started a fictionalized Twitter account, which follows a character from the film; and took advantage of Tribeca’s QR (Quick Response) codes, which he’s printed on the film’s postcards. (When scanned by a smartphone, the QR code image links users directly to digital content.) “They’re pretty neat,” he said. “Seems like it’s the next big thing in marketing.”

“I think every effort with social media is worth it,” Cunningham added, “and that each method presents an opportunity, like little press agents you can send out, each one with a different way of getting the message across.”

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