iPhones & Movie Theatres: Peanut Butter & Jelly?

Do you use your smart phone at the movies?

C’mon, fess up. If the multitude of lit screens I was privy to the other nite was/is any indication, it’s SOP to text like crazy during the film. Hence, the debate; for me, as an audience member,  it’s kind of a pain in the ass to watch a film amidst a dozen smart phone screens around me- distracting at best. Call me a purist, but it’s tough to focus  when there’s a text-message feeding frenzy going on.

As a Filmmaker, maybe this is precisely what I want to have happening.

Texting while at the movies, or any other event, is an interesting development as the web continues to create major shifts in people’s experience. While people carry the Internet around in their hands via smart phones,  they’re effectively breaking down the distinction between “virtual” and “physical” worlds thru the use of the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter. et al. Nowadays, most folks are constantly online, hooked up to their social circles, perpetually acting as a bridge between the physical & virtual worlds and creating a major shift in how we use the internet.

So, with the rapidly increasing sales of iPhones pushing the curve on social media and internet, cross-pollination of conversation/ experience/ real time event response, I’d be wise to consider using the new tools that enable me to promote, screen and open up dialogue online for free or at minimal cost to maximum effect. As a filmmaker, I want people to see my films. Hello Twitter, Facebook, et al- welcome to the party!

Filmmaker and cross-media guru Lance Weiler has done this to great effect with his release of HEAD TRAUMA, incorporating interactive cel phone use during select screenings of his film. I had the opportunity to experiencthe experience this first hand in New York, and it was an eye opener. At key story points in the film, Weiler projected a number on the screen, inviting anyone with a cel phone to dial up and engage, encouraging a deeper interactive experience with the film. Expanding on this, participants continue to engage beyond the film and into the ‘real ‘ world as they received messages and phone calls relating to the film and it’s web sites for awhile, post-screening. Cool stuff. So, what can we do?

Maybe bite the bullet and encourage audience members to use their cell phones in the theater! For those of us with a predilection for watching a film in near total darkness this will certainly require a paradigm shift. Egad. For those pioneering spirits eager to give it a whirl, use the theatre screen to enable & encourage folks to communicate; drum up dialogue in and outside the theatre to spread the word, partake in a contest, or sign up for an extended experience of the film online. Just a couple of things to try, but worth the effort. Using digital tools to enhance the film-going experience via social media technology ain’t new, it’s just beginning to really come into it’s own. many of the app’s are free, powerful, and if you follow the path Lance and a host of other cross-platform pioneers are taking, it’s only going to get more interesting in a hurry.
Might be time to get on the boat share the experience. What do you think?

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