From the Red Carpet to your Computer Screen: How Hollywood is Going Viral

It’s the first month of 2012, which means that award season in Hollywood has begun. On January 15th, the 69th annual Golden Globes kicked off  several months of red carpet events that will include the SAG awards and, of course, the Oscars. And even if “there’s no business like show business”,  Tinsel Town has followed suit and gone high tech for the upcoming award shows, utilizing  social media and online video.

The biggest of these upcoming award shows is the Oscars, which will be held on February 26th. For the second year in a row, the nominations for the prestigious awards were announced live via Youtube. This year, the use of mobile devices to watch the announcement was at it’s peak; the availability and popularity of smart phones allowed more people to follow the broadcast regardless of where they were located. As a result, the internet played a much larger role in the announcement than the televised event.  After the nominees were announced, people flocked to social media sites to share their predictions and expectations for the show. To add to the online social interaction element of the event,  Facebook and NYTimes.com are teaming up to create an interactive online ballot for the Academy Awards. The ballot will allow participants to select their choices for winners in the various categories, and the on the night of the big event, track how their votes stack up against friends and even celebrities. This is an exciting way for fans to participate in the big event, but the plans for next year are even more high tech. In fact,  the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has decided to move forward with a completely electronic voting system for the 2013 Academy Awards.

The Oscar’s aren’t the only way Youtube is getting involved with the film industry this year.  Starting February 2nd, the video site is launching it’s largest film festival ever, called Your Film Festival. Anyone 18 years and older can submit a short film (no more than 15 minutes) to the social video site, and 50 semifinalists will be chosen by Scott Free Productions (Ridley and Tony Scott’s production company). Those 50 short films will be hosted on a youtube channel, where viewers will vote for their favorites. The 10 films with the highest amount of votes will be flown to the Venice Film Festival, where a winner will be chosen and awarded $500,000 to produce a movie with Scott Free Productions. This film festival is another example of how the internet can create a level playing field for businesses (or film makers) of all levels. Having worked for a film festival, I have some idea of how expensive the processing of a blu-ray or 35-mm film can be, even for a short. By allowing participants to post their work directly to the internet, allows small production companies to be considered for an award.

Even if your company doesn’t have a red carpet and golden statues, you can still take a page out of Hollywood’s book and improve your online business.