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Friday, May 30, 2008

The new gatekeepers (and how to be a keymaster)

There are a new set of gatekeepers in town.

In the old days, to get your film noticed, you had to go through 'gatekeepers'. These are people who you have to get past in order to succeed, they guard the success gate. That might make you think of Cerberus. But in the real world a festival programmer is an example of a gatekeeper - you need them to pick your film in order for it to be shown. A commissioning editor is another example, a distributor is another. Peter Broderick reckons that most films have to get past 7 gatekeepers on average before Joe Public* sees it.

Ages ago I did this diagram to sum it up.



The democracy of the internet, blogs and wikis has led to a new way of films being noticed. Putting your film on-line for people to see involves going past zero gatekeepers. This 'new' way also makes it easier for the writer (or filmmaker) and the audience to work together directly and have a 2 way conversation.

But something else has happened. The rise of the content manager. They are new and slightly different. They like the idea of the 'new' way of working, of letting the web 2.0 philosophy work, of allowing films to live and die by the audience directly. However they are reluctant gatekeepers.

I'm talking about the people who pick what goes on the homepage of video website. Whatever is on the homepage of YouTube or Dailymotion or Revver does best in terms of viewing figures. By well I mean 100 times better.

"Hey Tim, this is opinion, not fact."

Well, here is my case study. This version of Mr Vista was featured on Dailymotion homepage thanks to their support for the project. It has had 40,000 views on their site. I then did another version which I asked them not to feature as it was just for festivals etc. So basically the same film. This time it got only 247 views.

So perhaps the success of our on-line films does lie partly in getting in with these new gatekeepers. Clearly, an excellent film that engages the audience is a given for success. Maybe they are not gatekeepers, which seems a bit negative, but rather enablers or accelerators. Either way, understanding them and their needs is becoming crucial. What do they want? What are they looking for? What appeals? What doesn't?

That's what I'll be looking at in the next post.

*Other names allowed
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3 comments:

deepstructure said...

absolutely there will be new gatekeepers - for the same reason the old ones existed; once you have too much content, functions arise to help organize, sort and rate it.

the next gatekeepers are most definitely search/feedback algorithms and the content aggregators that use them.

Tim Clague said...

I think it comes down to the fact that we like people to recommend stuff. The fact that 'dave' says it is good can somehow seem better than 1205 votes says it is. So long as we trust Dave obviously

Kill Dave said...

You can only trust me guys if people stop killing me... Click on my name if you don't believe me.