If you’re a regular denizen of Twitter and follow some famous movie directors, then you’ve probably seen an interesting new trend in pre-marketing: Posting uncaptioned (and sometimes captioned) pictures from movie sets. The best of these recently was from J.J. Abrams who’s been posting some pictures from the “Star Wars: Episode VII” set, or at least one with tongue embedded in cheek. He may have kicked off a new meme that gets people talking about a movie a year or more before it even releases. But it branches off from other directors who’ve been much more open on filming details on Twitter.
I’ve written here before about how Ron Howard became one of the few A-list movie directors who’s documented the entire production of a movie through his Twitter account. When Howard filmed “Rush” a couple of years ago, he posted numerous pictures and tweets on a nearly daily basis showing the entire production from finding locations, filming, to post-production details. It was one of the greatest examples of what Twitter can do in giving us information on how a movie is being filmed without giving any major plot points away.
Directors would probably love to do the same if it wasn’t for the fact that so many high-profile movies are becoming top-secret projects. Everything from the new “Star Wars” film to the new “Jurassic Park” sequel are becoming more of a challenge to keep secrets through social media. But it seems that some directors are finding a new way to promote a film long in advance. They’re doing this by just posting visual memes with no explanation of what’s going on. Yes, call this the new form of Vine, even if Vine isn’t being used in favor of still images.
The most recent example of this is from director Colin Trevorrow who posted a buzz-worthy still image that was more than self-explanatory from the new “Jurassic Park” sequel. It showed a mobile veterinary unit truck that apparently contains dinosaurs from the revived Jurassic Park in the film. On the truck’s back door, we see a bloody handprint and more smeared blood as if one of the Velociraptors happened to snatch one of the vets for lunch.
It’s a meme that received a lot of publicity and fits right in with J.J. Abrams’ Twitter shot of the Millennium Falcon from “Episode VII.” While Abrams’ posting might have been a new ploy to post misleading information to fight back against TMZ posting pics from the set, we should expect plenty more memes on Twitter that set a mood or a scene from a movie in production.
Will Still Pics on Twitter Garner Interest, or Will There Be GIFs?
Recently, when Twitter added GIF capability, you had to picture movie studios taking advantage of it to post a looping meme from the set of a movie or publicity still. That’s something we haven’t seen done yet on Twitter, and it may add a new layer to the marketing meme idea for films. In fact, GIFs are probably the best marketing meme for movies based on how they can convey something without requiring sound. In that regard, the Vine videos we used to see on Twitter seem to be slowly dying out, especially when it’s impossible to have any meaningful audio in only five seconds.
As more and more movie directors join Twitter, we’re probably going to see the new way to get a movie into people’s consciousness through this method and throughout the filming process without following Ron Howard’s lead. We have to be grateful Ron Howard doesn’t have to keep secrets about his own movies. It’s a process other studios might want to consider, even for the future “Star Wars” movies, despite “Episode VII” being an exception.
Keeping secrets on movies might have to become passé so we can feel like we’re in on the production process ourselves. Especially with “Star Wars”, the fans consider it personal, and pics from the set would take fans there to feel assimilated into the universe.
In the meantime, expect the “Jurassic Park” type of memes on Twitter through this year, and used in increasingly clever ways there to capture attention. Like a creative diorama in a museum, a still picture or GIF can set a mood about a movie without showing any of the actors or plot details. The secret is to leave behind a scene of something that just happened as Colin Trevorrow did. This expands the universe of a movie to show essential pieces of things you won’t see once the movie releases.