Monday, May 30, 2011

Twittamentary (Beta Screening)

Despite having a Twitter account that is months old, frankly I've only been actively learning and using how to use it for a few weeks only, all in preparation not to be left out when Twittamentary, a documentary film by Singaporean filmmaker Tan Siok Siok, finally gets released sometime later this year, so as not to feel left out in one aspect of social media. Shallow, I know, but technology is advancing so rapidly, that making a film about it also seemed like a daunting task.

Months in the making since 2009, with the filmmakers carefully honing and crafting the documentary in its final stages from feedback obtained from beta screenings, I was finally fortunate enough to get myself into one packed screening this evening, having missed one in Singapore held earlier in February this year. It's quite the experience having to hole up with fellow cinephiles and twit geeks who actively participated in the screening through tweets via the #twittamentary hashtag, with a separate screen put up for live, side conversations and comments as the film moved along. So talk about a happy distraction!

As the film is not final, with color grading works and audio yet to be completed, this will not be a review proper, but just some broad strokes to whet the appetites of those who have not seen it, and probably won't until it gets formally released, through which distribution channel - theatrical, festival circuits, online perhaps? - yet to be decided at this stage of production. But whichever the case is, I suppose having the audience interact with one another (and the people featured in the film, for tweeter uses, using their respective Twitter address that pops up on screen), is a totally different ball game altogether, that perhaps a traditional theatrical format may just rob it of that total immersive experience.

Director Tan Siok Siok embarked on a road trip from the US East Coast to the West, and in doing so, set out to capture what Twitter is and what Twitter means, to various groups of people actively using this social medium. There are skeptics of course, as well as celebrities who became so thanks to Twitter. And what made this documentary unique, is the way it is fashioned from the ground up, in a very grassroots feel, almost as if led by an invisible Twitter hand to guide the filmmaker up various forks in the road and making options and choices at hand. Tan was getting assistance from Twitters on where to go and who to go to during production, which resulted in a rich Twitter eco-sphere being encapsulated in this film through very short snippets and segments much akin to the 140 character limit set, with the documentary narrative still evolving as we speak - tonight's screening also had a poll of sorts for a particular, separate segment to be included, or not.

A look at the "cast" list here may ring some bells to some of the regular Twitter users especially if you're following some of them, with porn star Mika Tan just about setting the screening wall on fire when she came on screen (after being "followed" for nine months by the director as revealed during a Q&A session after today's beta screening), and true to form, she had retweeted and commented on some of the tweets posted on #twittamentary, as will others in due course I believe.

So while David Fincher was at the helm of an award winning narrative Facebook film, here comes one on Twitter in true open collaborative style that hopefully will feature at a screen near you soon (and cross your fingers it comes with that level of interactivity as I experienced today), or as the film's website had it, web beta screening had also taken place when the 1000 follower mark got surpassed. So keep your eyes peeled through following the film's development (more details on its screening page), and I'm anticipating the finished product so that I can watch the film proper, and put aside my mobile phone (used to Tweet) for just that little while!


Related Links
- Official Movie Website
- Twitter Page
- Facebook Page

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