Paul Verhoeven, a famous Dutch film director had an idea to make a movie in cooperation with the crowd. He launched this project in a very mysterious way with a tweet (translated to English): @VerhoevensTweets. ‘You have to go with your time anyway? Stravinsky started composing music when he was 70 years old. (Schumacher, 2011). Paul Verhoeven was already 73 years old when he decided to try a completely new concept in film making.
His project was called ‘The Entertainment Experience’ and it was the first Emmy award winning, multi-platform concept creating a user generated movie (Entertainmentexperience.com, n.d.). This new way of film making was like this: Paul Verhoeven and his team wrote the first script out of 8 parts of the movie and the other 7 parts of the movie have to be written, shot and produced by the competing teams. The first step is that the scripts are handed in, after which the best script is selected by the public through a voting system. Following this step is that the production teams have to make the movie part that corresponds with the winning script.
All the movie parts are then shown to the public, where everyone can vote for their favourite team and production. The production team that receives the most votes is then selected for that specific part, all of these parts then add up to a complete movie of about 30 minutes. This is a crowdsourcing project because they let the public make the movie parts and let the public decide which part is then added to the movie. A disadvantage of this strategy could be that the team with the largest network will win, because they ask their friends and family to vote for them of course. The quality of the part might be of lesser importance then. Another disadvantage of this strategy is that people might not even take the time to look at all the created parts from all of the teams, I remember watching just the parts that were produced by a friend of mine and afterwards I would give them my vote immediately.
In total there were about 35.000 people participating in this concept, most of them were voters and a smaller group were ‘members’. In total they created almost 300 scripts, 54 films 206 soundfiles, 31 posters and 28 games (Magned, n.d.).
The Entertainment Experience is a platform where participating teams have to show a broad spectrum of skills. Firstly they have to write the script for the 7 following parts, they then have to direct and shoot the movie part, after which they have to do the soundcomposing and editing (Entertainmentexperience.com, n.d.). Furthermore, they have to show their skills regarding 360-interaction and entertainment in general. The concept creates a total of 2 movies. One that is written by the contestants and another one that was written and directed by Paul Verhoeven and his team.
The fact that this movie actually won an Emmy award, is proof that the concept works. The Chinese copied the idea in 2014, but afterwards I couldn’t find any other cases that used the same crowdsourcing business model. The reason for this is not very obvious, but I think that it is quite hard to get many people together that want to commit to making a movie, without actually being sure that they are getting paid for their work. Another reason could be that the project took 39 weeks to complete, which might be a very high barrier for people to commit to such a long project. Moreover, another disadvantage is that as a producer of this film that you’re not sure about the quality of the people competing. If there are not many people competing that are good hobbyists or semi-professionals it might be very hard to achieve a certain quality standard for movies. However there are also advantages in creating a movie with this concept.
A major advantage is that it doesn’t cost as much resources to produce a movie as traditional movies have, because the competing teams have to gather their own resources for the production of the parts. Another advantage is that their might be some hidden pearls in the public, that are actually really talented hobbyists that are capable of producing outstanding work and they might continue to pursue their career after the entertainment experience in movie production. Additionally, this movie is what the people actually wanted, because everyone has been involved in the process of making the movie. This ensures that the production is in line with demand of the market, however it might not be completely true, because 35.000 people don’t represent the entire movie market, but in my opinion this number comes pretty close. A drawback in making a movie in the traditional way is that the producers don’t know whether the public will like their movie or not, this user generated movie concept solves this challenge partly in my opinion.
In conclusion, I believe that this business model is capable of producing a good movie, however it requires a lot of commitment from all of the participants throughout the entire duration of the project. I think that this is the reason why it hasn’t been done anymore after the project from Paul Verhoeven and the project in China, even though the first concept yielded a very good result with the Emmy award in Cannes.