Movies ABOUT social networks are so 2010. Director DJ Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) took filmmaking to a whole new “social” level with his recent horror flick, The Inside Experience. The thriller, which had eight episodes in total, aired from July 25 to August 4.
Starring Emmy Rossum, The Inside Experience is about Christina Perasso, a girl who ended up trapped in a dark, windowless room, with nothing but a laptop to access the outside world. While the film itself is full of mysteries and surprises, the real twist was that the movie required audience participation. With no idea who abducted her and how she can escape, Christina logged in to various social networks and asked her “friends” for help. Other fictional characters of the film also had their own Facebook and Twitter accounts that the audience could use as sources for clues and insights.
Viewers had the chance to see the film develop in real-time via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As the story unfolded and revealed clues about Christina’s abduction, the audience was allowed to tweet and post advice on various social networks. The film’s editing team then selected the best posts and integrated them into the plot.
The final film, which is rumored to air on August 14, will include the chosen input from the audience, as well as a possible cameo from one of the fans.
Judging by the online turnout of film, I’m guessing that Caruso and the rest of The Inside Experience crew are pretty proud of themselves. After being live for just a couple of weeks, the film’s official social media accounts were able to garner thousands of followers, with their Facebook page (55,000+ likes) having the most activity and traffic. Viewers actively posted their opinions, theories, and well wishes towards the characters, and the fans continued to add wall posts even after the film’s final episode.
Say Goodbye to the “Idiot” Box
Of course, audience participation isn’t really new to the entertainment industry, as tons of shows already allow members of the audience to partake in their production. However, the fact that The Inside Experience actually took real time input from viewers to re-write the story line of the film makes it the first of its kind. Instead of spoon-feeding the audience with a set-in-stone plot, director DJ Caruso actually put some responsibilities into the audiences’ hands, by asking for help in figuring out how the film will unfold. According to CBS, Caruso mentioned it made him “proud” to see that the audience is much more intelligent than Hollywood executives give them credit for.
Now, I don’t know if the Academy will start handing out Oscars for “Best Social Film,” in the near future but I’m pretty sure that this new genre in filmmaking is here to stay.