Interview: Tan Siok Siok – Director of “Twittamentary”

Twittamentary

Tonight’s our turn to showcase THE documentary about Twitter – “Twittamentary” – at NextSpace in Culver City. The screening is currently sold out, but check in with us on Twitter (@smc_la). We’ll be live-tweeting tonight!

Recently, I had an opportunity to link up with Tan Siok Siok, the director of “Twittamentary.” She took a break out of her insane travel schedule to answer a few questions, especially for SMCLA.

Siok is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and honorary geek with a passion for great storytelling in the age of real-time web. Leveraging Twitter, she crowdsourced the stories and and videos for this documentary. *

 

Director Tan Siok Siok (@sioksiok)

SMCLA: When did you get the idea of doing this project?

SIOK: The idea for the film came about in April 2009. I have always wondered if a film about Twitter would be possible given the sheer complexity and scale of the topic. But one fine morning in April 2009, it suddenly struck me that ‘crowd sourcing’ the story ideas and material from Twitter’ers could be a way to crack the creative puzzle.  In June 2009 we started working on the submission site that allows us to crowdsource for stories and in August 2009, we officially announced the website.  That was the beginning of an epic journey that has kept evolving over the past two years.

SMCLA: Did you have a “target” Tweeter list that you wanted to reach out to first when you began this project? Ie. People you wanted to submit content.

SIOK: We did not consciously plan to target the high end influencers when we first began the project.  Instead, we wanted to gather the stories of every day Twitter users, not just Twilebrities with a lot of followers.  The whole point of crowd sourcing is to be open to possibilities from the left field and not to stick only to the trodden path of well known Twitter’ers and celebrated Twitter stories.

SMCLA: Do you have plans to film Tweeters and their stories in other countries outside of the US?

SIOK: Yes, we are open to exploring an international edition of Twittamentary.  The idea from the beginning is to make a version that could help people understand the idea and then rally resources to explore Twitter stories beyond the USA.

SMCLA: Could you tell us a challenge in filming the documentary? (Logistics, leads, travel…?)

SIOK: The challenge has always been to muster enough courage to give ourselves up to the unknown.  In conventional filmmaking, there is more control as you tend to map out an elaborate treatment or script before you start shooting.  But for this project, we were relying on Twitter’ers for story leads even while we were going across the USA on our shoot.  For me, throwing away the conventional approach that I know so well required a leap of faith.

SMCLA: What was the biggest lesson you learned while filming the documentary (or putting the project together)?

SIOK: I learnt about the beauty and magic of collaboration on the open web.  So many people have come alongside during different stages of the creative process to offer ideas on how to take the project further and invest their passion and energy in helping to pull off the ideas. It has been incredibly humbling and moving process.

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Siok, on behalf of the Los Angeles chapter of Social Media Club, I want to thank you for making a pitstop in LA to present  the film to our members and friends tonight. For those of you who may miss this screening, check out Twittamentary’s screening schedule and be sure to RSVP early!

 

* Pulled from the bio section of Twittamentary.com

 

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