by Julie Keck & Jessica King
What’s the TILT / Twitter connection? TILT was initially conceived 5 years ago by Phil Holbrook in a dream (see where the magic happened here), but it was actually born this winter on Twitter. A sterile environment? Not exactly. More like a petri dish where lots of wonderful things can thrive, as well as some grody ones. We hope that in the end our experiment in feature film ends up resembling penicillin more than streptococcus.
So what exactly happened on Twitter? We joined Twitter late in the summer of 2009. Soon after, we bumped into Phil. We can’t remember exactly how we all hooked up, although we suspect it had something to do with either Gary King, Film Snobbery Live or both. What we know for sure is that we were instantly tickled by Phil’s humorous and intelligent tweets as well as his genuine interest in what we were doing. (Never forget: flattery will get you everywhere, and this applies to getting people to follow you and share helpful hints on Twitter.)
As a result of our positive Twitter interactions, Phil checked out our work; we checked out his. Eventually we submitted some shorts to his film festival (EgoFest), and then we made plans to meet each other face-to-face. Later, once we started discussing TILT, we were introduced to Phil’s longtime friend and collaborator Jeremy Doyle. And the Tilt team was complete.
Can you really know what someone’s like by their Twitter demeanor? I’m sure there are some cases in which someone’s real life personality is different from their Twitter persona, but, in Phil’s case, the carpet matched the drapes. Er…that’s not quite the right metaphor. What we mean is that when we finally met Phil in person, he was just as funny, smart, and charismatic as his Twitterfeed had led us to believe. No bad blind date stories here.
Do we expect that most folks who seem fun and supportive on Twitter to be fun and supportive in real life? Our experience points to yes. Maybe there’s something intrinsically kind about Twitter. It takes just as much time to type “You rock!” as it does to type “You suck!” And, to our delight, we see WAY more of the former than the latter. Maybe it’s sort of like how it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile…
Does this mean that Twitter always bring the best out in people? Not necessarily. We’ve seen a few negative, ego-driven, downer posts on Twitter, but everyone’s allowed to have bad days. However, when we see that someone we follow is incredibly negative on a regular basis, we unfollow. Why? Because Twitterlife is too short for that sort of bad juju.
What does Twitter have to offer TILT? Lots, we think.
- Encouragement & support: Phil has described the indie film group that we interact with as a family, and we think he’s spot on. Filmmaker Gary King, for example, is the Twitter equivalent of the brother who’ll always let us borrow his car. Multi-hyphenate Tyler Weaver and filmmaker Travis Legge are the fun cousins who’ll bail us out of jail without any questions. Producer Maria Lokken and marketing and publicity consultant Sheri Candler will undoubtedly be the sensible aunts who’ll slap some sense into us if they see us fall in with the wrong crowd. Writers Jeanne V. Bowerman and Karen Quah are the cool sisters who’ll tell us about the birds and the bees (the REAL story). And our New York / New Jersey crew – Eren Gulfidan, John Trigonis, Marinell Montales, Matt Shea, Jerry Cavallero, Kim Garland, Alain Aguilar, Raffi Asdourian, and more – well, they’ll probably come to crash on the TILT couch and raid the TILT fridge, but they’ll make us laugh the whole time to earn their keep. These are just a few of our valued Twitter friends, people who make our Twitter lives (and our real lives) more rich. When we have questions about time management, contracts, how to find agents, etc, everyone has an opinion – a valuable opinion. And when we hit low points where we doubt our trajectory or talent, they boost us up and remind us of what we’ve accomplished so far.
- Honest feedback: Just because our Twitter friends support us does not mean that they blow sunshine up our hoo-has. None of us on the TILT team wants empty compliments. We want to interact people who will push us, challenge us, and help us make the best decisions (and films) we can.
- Examples of what to do on Twitter: We’re lucky to follow many hardworking indie filmmakers at various stages of their production, marketing, and distribution journeys. Many help us by sharing their mistakes and successes. Some share helpful articles. Some just share their dreams and ideas about of they hope to do someday. All inspire us.
- Examples of what not to do: Sometimes we come across people who promote their wares in ways that feel unsavory to us. This includes people who use Twitter only to promote their movies or to ask for money as well as people who ceaselessly naysay or criticize other people’s ideas. We take note, learn lessons, and move on.
Ultimately, TILT owes a lot to Twitter. It brought our team together, taught us how to move forward with our feature project, and, hopefully, will help us build an audience that will make it a success.