Creating Content: Lessons from Hollywood.
By George Mitchell, CTO & Co-founder, Circos Brand Karma
Thursday, 22nd November 2012
I've always been fascinated by Hollywood and filmmaking because despite its glamour, beautiful people, and larger than life personas, movies wouldn't get made without a whole lot of tech geeks. 

4Hoteliers Image LibraryTechnology has long been a backbone of film-making starting with the proto-geek himself Thomas Edison and his Kinetoscope. The advent of social media is yet another technology that the entertainment industry has embraced.  So as the other "glamour" industry, here are 5 tips that we can learn from Hollywood:

1. Get Ready to Get your Geek on

The evolution of the movie business spawned many technology companies, but probably none as successful as Panavision whose Panatar lenses would dominate the industry for 50 years. If you wanted your movie to look right you needed to shoot it in 35mm and most likely were going to use a Panavision camera. But the costs were exorbitant, rentals of equipment (you weren't allowed to purchase the cameras) and film costs alone could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In the 1980s video cameras became mainstream, but they didn't provide the same picture quality as film and were largely relegated to home movies.  But the beginning of the 21st century saw the explosion of the Digital Single Reflex Lens or DSLR camera which would level the playing field for film-makers everywhere.

For a couple thousand dollars in post-production software and a decent DSLR, anyone had access to the quality and flexibility of a traditional film camera with the convenience and cost savings of a digital camera. How is this relevant to the travel industry?

Cameras have always served as travel companions, but now the cameras that people are bringing around the world with them are capable of creating Hollywood quality movies.  Even the iPhone has a more powerful chip than the camera used to shoot the Star Wars prequels. Not only has this allowed consumers to post higher and higher quality videos, but it also raises the bar for what people post.  Social media provides a platform for people to cultivate their online identity – home movie quality videos won't cut it anymore. Thanks to technology, people are now able to create content that looks the part, but what about the content itself?

2. People want to build on the things they love

In preparation for the release of the 2012 movie The Amazing Spider Man, Sony released several different teasers and trailers across social media.  All told, nearly 25 minutes worth of the film was released across different videos.  Using only these videos one fan took it upon himself to compile, organize and re-cut all the material into one 25 minute "film" which did its best to mirror the as yet unreleased film's narrative. 

The reaction among Sony executives was mixed, with some wanting to quash the video altogether, while others applauded the enthuisiasm of their fans and tried to figure out the best way to embrace the video.  Ultimately the video was allowed to stand and the movie has gone on to make three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide.

The television show "Mad Men" depicts Madison Avenue ad executives and their lives.  It takes place in the 1960s long before the advent of social media.  But in a case of life imitating art imitating life, one dedicated fan of the show took it upon herself to create a Twitter account of one of the shows main characters – the housewife of one of the titular ad execs. Initially the show's producer Matthew Weiner was unhappy with the following that @bettydraper received, but ultimately came to realize that the vibrant community being built around the show was good for everyone involved.

Both these examples show the extent to which fans are willing to immerse themselves in content creation. Neither received any kind of monetary remuneration. They weren't participating in a contest sponsored by the producers.  They spent a considerable amount of their free time creating content on behalf of some of the highest paid set of professionals in the world. 

The two keys to tapping into this talent pool is first, have a product that is compelling enough to have dedicated fans.  The travel industry is chock full of these. The second key is to create an environment where the community rewards this kind of content. Although neither vimeo user SleepySkunk nor Helen Klein Ross received any money for their efforts, they received the respect and admiration from the Spiderman and Mad Men communities. This desire to be recognized and appreciated is a core motivation in the growth of social media participation and proves the fact that.

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