The internet has changed the way people make friends, get information and even get laid. Could it be changing the way movies are made as well? I’m not fully sold, but here’s an intriguing idea: MySpace meets Louis B Mayer. It’s a site called LiveMansion.com, a social networking site (like MySpace and Friendster) that is geared towards getting a feature length motion picture made. Here’s the press release with the straight info:
Ckrush, Inc., announced the launch today of a new website designed to take social networking to a whole new level, fusing the strength of internet peer-to-peer networks with the power of being a studio mogul. LiveMansion.com – a participatory creative community in which the members call the shots – will function as a producer on Ckrush’s next feature film, LIVE MANSION: THE MOVIE, a thriller set in the underground world of mega-mansion, rave-style parties. Members of the social network will cast the film, choose the director and play a major decision-making role throughout the entire production process. The effort marks the first time most of the major production decisions on a film have been made through an online social network.
“Social networking has become a powerful collective force in today’s world,” said Jeremy Dallow, President of Ckrush. “LiveMansion.com takes this phenomenon in a new direction, harnessing the participatory nature of the web in a whole new way. Ckrush is committed to making highly entertaining feature films and we feel that the LiveMansion community will be a great producing partner and source for creative talent.”
LiveMansion.com members will participate in the making of LIVE MANSION: THE MOVIE in up to three different ways. They can enter an open casting call, audition to become the director and/or call the shots as a producer. Producers vote during the talent search and then subsequently as key decisions are made throughout the rest of the production process. Each member will earn “producer points” as they take part in the making of the film. Those who participate the most will be brought to the set and will earn equity in the film among other benefits.
The search for a director will begin with online submissions, with candidates being asked to tell a story using three pictures and no narrative, and to submit a questionnaire. LiveMansion.com members will rank submissions, with the top choices moving on to the second round. The next step will require candidates to submit up to a three minute video, which will also be ranked. For round three, those still standing will be provided three scenes from the film, one of which they must shoot and submit the video. Community members will then cast a simple vote whether to give them the job or not. The top vote getters will move on to the final round.
The five top candidates for director will be given a budget to create a five-minute short film based on scenes from LIVE MANSION: THE MOVIE. The final candidates will then be brought to New York where they will present their work to industry professionals. Live Mansion Members will then vote online to select the director based on the strength of their short.
The open casting process will also be broken into rounds, starting with photo and questionnaire submissions that will be ranked by members. Top ranking entries will move to a sorting round in which LiveMansion.com will unveil eight character descriptions and candidates will choose which roles they feel fit them best. Members will rate the candidates for each role, with the highest rated actor candidates going to the next round. Round 3 will require candidates to submit a short video of themselves performing scenes from the movie. The top vote getters for each role will be brought to New York and will participate in a live online casting showcase, before members make their final choices.
Well, the subject matter sounds like maybe one of the worst ideas ever – mansion raves? – but the modus operandi is intriguing. There’s always a debate about the democracy of the popular arts (check out the new Entertainment Weekly’s cover story on Snakes on a Plane for more about that), and LiveMansion is certainly coming down squarely on one side of that debate. And if nothing else, this is going to be a cool opportunity for people to bypass the staid system of getting into the business. Is it a gimmick or is it a real, viable way to make movies? We won’t know until they’re done, but it’ll be interesting to watch.
But seriously, mansion raves?