From IndieWould/Hollywouldn’t: TentSquare is the first completely crowdsourced production studio with an integrated social network. From the earliest development phases all the way through post-production, members are able to weigh in on virtually every aspect of their film’s development. TentSquare is a forum for creativity. Whether looking to gain exposure, jumpstart careers, meet fellow filmmakers or receive mentorship from established producers and judges, the TentSquare model strives to make it happen.
With the ongoing TentSquare short film development, courtesy of SXSW alums The McManus Brothers (‘Funeral Kings‘), as well as ‘Final Destination‘s Jeffrey Reddick, we thought it would be a good time to sit down with TentSquare Founder & CEO Andrew van den Houten to discuss this interesting, emerging platform and model. Andrew comes from an extensive filmmaking background as his earliest forays into the industry were as a child actor and the founder of traditional production house Modernciné, whose films have been recognized around the world at virtually every major independent film destination in existence including Sundance, Toronto & Slamdance.
With the ever-volatile landscape emerging from the modern independent film workflow many have found niche areas of specificity regarding respective market shares of individual domains (Kickstarter for Crowdfunding; Film Annex for Networking; FilmBuff for Digital Distribution, amongst any slew of others), but none has managed to facilitate a lasting network while coupled with the physical nuts & bolts of the filmmaking process. It is within this space TentSquare strives to lay their claim. As van den Houten remarks, “The Goal is to Democratize the Filmmaking Process“, turn it over to the hands of the people as it is the people who ultimately consume the final product. Having launched at increasingly relevant hotbed for (not only) technology but also independent film that is the SXSW Music, Film & Interactive conference, TentSquare is poised to present a new approach to the populist ideals of crowdsourced living, entertainment and cultural sustainability. Whether it will ultimately shake up an industry whose very existence relies heavily on the template maintaining protocol of focus groups and test audiences remains to be seen, however its hybridity of technology, creativity and networking makes TentSquare an interesting, marketable and original platform none-the-less.
Andrew van den Houten and I sat down in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn just prior to the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and discussed all things TentSquare. You can find our conversation after the introductory TentSquare video. TentSquare launched their initial short film contest on March 9, 2014 and it continues with crowdsourced input of everything from its Actors to its Director of Photography, all while maintaining a thriving online community for creatives and film enthusiasts alike.
Sign Up & Become a Member of TentSquare – HERE
Prior to launching TENTSQUARE, what has been your background in film?
I’ve been a film producer and director working in independent film through my company Modernciné.
Describe some ways you have gotten productions of the ground prior to developing the idea for TENTSQUARE
Independent finance. Started by getting friends and family to support first project.
Where did the idea for TENTSQUARE first originate?
I was at a party with a bunch of technology folks and entrepreneurs that inspired me. I quickly realized that the internet has barely been explored to help in the disruption of how film is created.
Was the original idea based more around the technological platform or the business of film production?
From a technological perspective, how is TENTSQUARE (the platform) built?
It’s built on Ruby on Rails.
How has operating out of New York City been beneficial for the development/implementation of TENSTSQUARE?
Access to lot’s of creative people and slowly starting to meet other tech entrepreneurs and investors as well.
Have you seen any instance where NYC has actually been a hindrance to the platform?
What is the ultimate goal of TENTSQUARE?
Democratize the way content is created, all while helping discover and support talent.
Can you describe the task breakdown of the competition?
Our first project we have directors, cinematographers and actors competing. In the future competitions will be open for Special Make-Up Effects, Singer/Songwriters, Composers and other creative artists as well.
Here is our timeline for our first film. Directors first in tandem with cinematographers and then actors.
What was the experience like launching TENTSQUARE at SXSW?
Exciting, overwhelming and ultimately incredibly encouraging. It showed me that there are many passionate people working hard on innovative concepts and success definitely relies on hard work, persistence and a lot of luck.
What are your impressions of the creative process specific to the individual roles of its participants?
Film is the most all-encompassing artistic collaborative medium. The stronger the vision a director brings to a project, using the screenplay as the roadmap, the better the final movie will turn out. A great director inspires their creative team to build on their vision and push the creative process as far as possible.
How do you ensure that the TENTSQUARE model allows it participants and collaborators to maintain a certain level of creative freedom with respect to their individual roles?
Great producing wherein we support each department and work with the director from day one to help them clearly articulate their vision to every department.
– Interview Conducted, Edited & Transcribed by Steve Rickinson