City of Life: How Dubai’s First Film Made It Viral

Over the last year, we’ve had the ‘confidential’ pleasure of working with Emirati director and friend Ali F Mostafa together with Filmworks on Dubai’s first ever full-length feature film – City of Life.  We conceived the brand, designed the marketing collateral and built the official film website. But one knows a website can’t possibly be the end of the road in today’s connected day and age. Conducting dialog with fans and supporters is fundamental to any measure of success!  Our ‘Demand It’ microsite did just that; connecting fans directly with distributors.

The first stop in our social strategy included the film’s Facebook page and its 6000+ fanbase, and its official Twitter account with another 1000+ followers. The Youtube channel garnered 50,000 views in no time. However, none of that truly embodied the true power of the masses to influence the otherwise bureaucratic decision-making process of distribution companies. That’s when we built a voting platform with partners Zeedna to experiment with this process – Demand It. We started out trying to democratize the distribution process by engaging real people; not just numbers on a chart. Once on the website, 2 clicks is all it took to demand the movie in your city by logging in your vote.

This data, updated by the minute, was then used to hold discussions with distributors globally with specific data on demographics. Besides the obvious advantage of gauging interest in an independent film from real fans, imagine the impact on deciding how many prints need to reach each film market.

Last week alone has garnered hundreds of votes from countries as far-reaching as Australia or Russia. We’ll post updates on votes logged over the upcoming weeks.

Can this be the future of film distribution? And how far will film-makers be willing to push the envelope to involve real people who will eventually decide the fate of a movie they had a say in to begin with.

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