Filmmaking is a team sport and DIY filmmaking even more so. Our current feature, In-World War, is a great example: over 300 people have helped (up to now) and nearly all are volunteers. I wouldn't be surprised to see another 200 or more work on it during post-production in one way or another before it's ready for the festival circuit.
So if you're trying to figure out how to get your DIY feature film (or even short film) made, you're probably asking: How do you find these people?
You can build your team the obvious ways: Craigslist, local film community sites and organizations, college film departments and personal connections. That's basically how we staffed the crew on In-World War.
But that was the Old Way. There's a radical new concept that's been floating around in the indie film community recently: crowd-sourcing.
The idea is pretty simple: use the Internet to get people (usually a large number of people) to work on your project with you. It's particularly effective for departments like visual effects, where a lot of skilled labor is needed across many shots, and in theory can be worked on somewhat isolated from each other.
Imagine having hundreds of people across the globe working on your movie, as a way to gain experience, build their resumes and/or work on something cool. All while helping you get a finished film.
This model was pioneered by Timo Vuorensola, the director of Star Wreck, a Star Trek parody made through the help of an online community of over 3000 people.
Timo is currently in pre-production on his next feature, Iron Sky, another ambitious sci-fi project that is embracing the crowdsourcing approach (shooting in the summer of 2010).
The other day, I spoke with Timo via Skype (he's in Finland, I'm not). We're discussing ways to collaborate on reaching sci-fi fans via the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con -- and I took the opportunity to talk with him about the crowdsourcing platform he's built, called Wreckamovie.
At the Wreckamovie site, filmmakers can post tasks and seek help from others around the world, for anything from logo or poster design, through full visual effect shots.
This isn't crowdsourcing of funds (which is great and something we do already), but crowdsourcing of labor.
And it's central to Timo's vision for changing how indie films are made.
I've been considering using Wreckamovie for crowdsourcing some of our visual effect on In-World War, but I had some concerns about the process and, well, the quality of the work.
He was kind enough to let me post his answers here, to help other filmmakers get a grasp on how to best use Wreckamovie.
First, Timo said that using Wreckamovie is a learning process and to start small.
I have about a hundred FX shots needed for In-World War (if not more) and he suggested to start with one shot and to chop it into as small pieces as possible. The Wreckamovie community prefers to take on much smaller tasks rather than larger.
Examples of bite-sized small tasks:
- Chroma key for green screen
- Concept design for a single scene or effect
- Model a specific shot (as short as possible)
Eventually, as people get involved, you'll find out who your strong players are, and who to turn to more often, for more responsibility.
I asked him if it's necessary to bring your own audience of people willing to help or if Wreckamovie's community is big enough to provide that.
Timo said that when you put a project up on Wreckamovie, "at first what you need is to get some sort of buzz to get on the front page."
He said the best way to do that is to get some tasks that are very accessible (a logo, a name), something to get attention and keep it on top.
Then, once you've set it up, promote it to friends and connections to come over and help. "Once your people start doing things, then there is the initial activity."
Once the community sees the activity, it starts to get more attention.
Basically, he suggests that you "start easy and promote with our own people." And then let it snowball from there.
Also, it's important that -- early in the process -- the filmmaker is very active to get it started and rolling. Once you have many tasks and many people helping, the project takes on a life of its own and you don't have to be as directly active to attract interest and get even more help.
Lastly, I asked him about quality: what if the work produced by the crowd sucks?
Timo was blunt: "Don't use it."
But he offered some hope that "with enough volume, you'll find the right guys among them all, then they will be the main engine of your production."
Curious to hear if anyone else has had any experience with Wreckamovie and/or crowdsourcing -- use the comments to give your thoughts and experiences.