Collaboration is the new black, even in traditionally auteur-driven spaces like film. But the collaboration is no longer just between talent above-the-line. The rise of crowdfunding and social media means that the collaborative process extends to the audience at the development stage. Companies like JuntoBox films, a collaborative film studio that unites social development with traditional film production including financing and distribution, are creating a new model. Digital Executive Rachel Mclean tells us it’s a model that not only gives emerging filmmakers the opportunity to express their own voices, but provides them with a built-in platform that expresses underrepresented audience’s as well.
Tell me about JuntoBox Films. When was the platform launched and why?
JuntoBox’s founder, Philippe Caland, is an independent filmmaker and through his personal experience was inspired to create something that opened up a democratic way for creators to get their project funded and produced all while allowing for mentorship and growth.
Beyond just offering funding and crowdsourcing filmmaking, we’re very focused on incubating talent with support and mentorship by industry professionals, such as the likes of Forest Whitaker and Philippe Caland. We officially launched at SXSW in March 2012, where we greenlit our first film Passenger, which is currently in production, however the company has been around for 2 years. JuntoBox will be greenlighting a total of five films this year.
Each project has to unlock 5 levels of crowd support during your application process. Can you break it them down and why they’re important?
We used a gaming company to help develop the levels and all the triggers with alerts and interaction.Once a project is created, filmmakers rise up through the five levels of development by building their film’s profile through fan participation and the completion of various tasks involving platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Star Ratings and of course, script review. Forest Whitaker meets with the filmmakers at level five to provide mentorship and then ultimatley chooses which film is greenlit.
Film has been known as an auteur-driven, why do you think social collaboration is important in the process?
It’s how our world works, social media is auteur driven too, people can take something and create a new image from it or perspective. Filmmakers and writers are collaborating in person probably more so than any other industry and social media gives access to a broader group, all depending on how you use if of course. We couldn’t have developed the platform and collaboration features as far as we did without social media. Fn fact when Facebook came out with the open graph we went back and integrated it. Independent filmmakers rally their friends and networks to help get their short or feature made especially on a tight budget. You really see the support people have for each other.
Academy Award Winning actor Forest Whitaker (@forestwhitaker) is designated as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. He co-founded the International Institute for Peace at Rutgers University and just announced his next endeavor, PeaceEarth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth, women, and men to resolve conflicts peacefully. How does his work as a humanitarian impact the kinds of projects that get chosen?
From the start, every JuntoBox film idea has an equal chance of becoming greenlit. It’s through our digital community that these projects climb the ladder through the various stages, eventually reaching the level for Forest’s dedicated mentorship. Forest’s commitment to humanitarian work and empowering aspiring filmmakers only helps these artists to share a more powerful story that will have a greater impact. His social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using the film media as a means of raising consciousness. This has played a key role not only in the projects he undertakes as an artist but also in the projects he supports through JuntoBox Films.
Do you think it’s important for creatives in disciplines like acting and writing to produce their own work? Why?
The creators that have come through our platform mostly have written, directed or acted in their own work. They are their strongest advocate, giving them a drive and passion to push their project out themselves, which is also what we wanted to tap into. Sometimes it’s by default as most likely people are in multiple roles due to budget reasons, but obviously it allows a deeper personal meaning and passion to the project to manifest. I see that the growth of a creator comes when resources and funding are available and being able to let go of creating everything yourself, allow feedback and let people in to build your vision.
Do you think social media empowers under-represented communities? How?
Absolutely, that’s where the emphasis was for us creating this platform with social media as the backbone. It’s an outlet to empower the under-represented creatives in the world that want to make and be a part of filmmaking. Each film we have greenlit has been with creators outside of Los Angeles, people working for years on their project and idea without the ability to really be empowered in the film industry.
What do you think is the biggest impact of social media on film and how and what we watch?
I use Twitter, Facebook and Get Glue to see what shows and events are on and trending. They’re incredibly viral and interactive, great for seeing feedback and comments on shows or movies. Social media’s impact is so prevalent that they’re the first to post any spoilers, within minutes or seconds. It’s so real-time as to what is happening on TV if I missed a season finale like True Blood, I stay away from checking Twitter, Facebook until I get around to watching it.
JuntoBox has already greenlit three (out of five) films this year including Passenger, based on the true life of writer and director Tony McGrath. For more information visit: http://www.juntoboxfilms.com/