If you can’t tweet ’em…

To tweet or not to tweet...

To tweet or not to tweet...

On April 29, ACMI Cinemas became a living breathing hashtag with the arrival of Soraya Darabi, NY-based social media expert and co-founder of Foodspotting.com. For those who haven’t experienced it, Foodspotting  is a social media haven where foodies can upload photos of their favourite dishes and other users can voice their opinions and vote (cleverly called ‘noms’).

The event was presented by our friends at Portable and Soraya provided a great insight into what makes a web start-up really jump. She also shared her tips for what will be the next big thing in the world of web 2.0 (for those dying to know, Instagram is apparently the new Flickr and Quora is the new Wikipedia).

As with many events taking place at ACMI of late, the audience was encouraged to live tweet their thoughts, comments or questions throughout Soraya’s presentation. Everyone was asked to add the #portable hashtag to their tweets so the organisers could capture them all. (For those not on twitter, adding a hashtag to your tweet means it can be found easily by searching that word, and trend as a popular topic).

It might seem strange or even rude to encourage people to use their smart phone/laptop/iPad while some perfectly articulate and intelligent person is speaking in front of you, but for a lot of people live tweeting is becoming standard practice. Attendees get to share their feelings in real time, and those not physically in the room can participate in the conversation, which can then outlive the event itself.

The rise and rise of twitter is difficult to ignore. Every week, between 15,000 and 20,000 tweets featuring the hash tag #qanda get posted with thousands of people live tweeting ABC’s weekly current affairs program, Q&A. The masterminds behind Australian TV’s night of nights, the Logies, are so worried about the equation of celebs, alcohol and twitter that they’ve banned it altogether (the tweeting, not the alcohol). Increasingly, people share their thoughts and observations about every aspect of their day, from what’s for breakfast to new ideas posited by visiting international Social Media experts.

This got us thinking: what if people regularly live tweeted during cinema screenings? We can already hear the die-hard cinephiles among you gasping for breath, but we figure there must be some of you out there who have embraced multimedia multi-tasking.

We’ve dabbled with it here at ACMI: last year during our Twin Peaks marathon, one lucky ACMI follower won the chance to be our “head tweeter” throughout the event. We also set up some tweetseats to ensure those who were tweeting wouldn’t bother those who weren’t. A number of theatre and cinemas are toying with this idea, especially those keen to develop a new audience.

The question then is, where do the tweeps sit? Somewhere up the back to not distract people with their tweeting, one would imagine. Or would that just inspire a lot of “OMG @acmi gives tweeps da worst seatz in da hous #FML” tweets?

What do you think? Should cinemas be encouraging this kind of behaviour? Or would it completely ruin your cinematic experience? Best answers posted in the comments below or tweeted at us win a double pass to one of our regular ACMI Cinemas programs.

– Nic Dorward, ACMI Events Team

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6 Responses to “If you can’t tweet ’em…”

  1. Flik 12. May, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Actually the back in my opinion is one of the best seats. Up the front might be better since its brighter close to the screen already. Social media has introduced an a new level of obsession with screens. Why must there be more than one screen to pay attention to? Isn’t it better to comment to your friend you’re seeing the movie with? Or is that now old-school? I guess it’s all down to how much one would want to spout their opinion to their subscribers. Alot of it depends what you do on the twitter too. Are you the kind of person that stares at other people’s twitters after they have replied? Are you just going to start lurk the internet and forget that you’re meant to follow the movie plot line? I think this ultimately makes the cinematic experience superficial. Sure it’s ok to do it at home, but in a place where the lights are dim, and the culture has been to focus your full attention on the silver screen, there can’t be another media invading this type of experience. Cinema demands an environment where one it focused on one medium – for a full experience.

  2. Rhett Bartlett 12. May, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    There should be special, set aside screenings, where people are able to tweet their comments using a specific hashtag.

    In theory you could do it on Tuesday and call it Tweetday.
    And go one step further down the track and screen specific films to get the idea going ie:

    ‘The Sweet Smell of Success’ can become ‘The Tweet Smell of Success’

    ’42nd Street’ can be promoted as ’42nd Tweet’

    ‘Meet Joe Black ‘ becomes ‘Tweet Joe Black’

    or screen back to back Meryl Streep films and call them Meryl Tweet films.

    The concept must be attempted, to embrace social media.
    ACMI is the forerunner of technology and video – this is a no brainer.

  3. carly 14. May, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    I am not anti twitter when it is used in the right context such as business promotion but – I think in terms people doing it in the cinema it would completely ruin it unless you stuck them in the cry babies booth – which is where the mothers get stuck cause their kids are distracting to others.
    why do you want to go to the movies and be tweeting instead of enjoying and escaping into the cinema experience which is what it is all about. I find this such a strange thing to do and wonder why people constantly feel the need to have a running commentary of their every thought displayed publicly as with facebook. The social impact is yet to be fully seen but are we just encouraging (in some ways) a new generation of narcissists?

  4. Andrew 15. May, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    I know where the best seats are for the tweeters – at home in front of their computer screens – NOT AT THE CINEMA.

    You go to the cinema to WATCH the film.
    Encouraging people to literally turn their eyes away from the film and to another screen breaks the whole concept of being taken into the world of a film. I don’t have problems with people having opinions on films – I think it’s great – but wait for the film to finish first!!! Go to a bar or coffee shop (we are lucky to have a couple good ones in Melbourne) and talk about it. Or go home at talk about it online.

    ACMI has the reputation for bringing great films to the cinema lovers of Melbourne. I choose to go to ACMI to watch films with an audience who has respect for each other and the film. I choose not to go to Hoyts or Village because the audiences’ can at times have respect for neither. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t let ACMI fall into that category.

  5. ACMI 17. May, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Thanks for the comments guys – we’re sending all of you double passes to one of our (still twitter free) regular film screenings.

    It seems to be quite a polarising issue, and one that is only going to become more prominent as technology advances and further infiltrates our everyday experience.

    We shall watch with interest to see where it ends up – in the meantime, it seems that tweetfilm is a concept that people would prefer to be a separate event, rather than a regular part of screenings – are we on the money?

  6. Rhett Bartlett 18. May, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Making Tweetfilm a separate event is the best way to introduce it.
    It allows all those in attendance to be prepared for the experience, and decided whether or not to attend.

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