The IMDBs and the Rotten Tomatoes of the world have created a web of information for movie fans looking for news on films before and after their releases. It’s that in-between area that’s somehow remained relatively unexplored. Some of the most important and fascinating aspects of moviemaking happen during production, yet oftentimes it’s been regarded as an inconsequential part of the process—that is until BeforeTheTrailer.com hit the Web.
Featuring photographs, videos, write-ups and first-hand accounts of some of cinema’s soon-to-be releases, BeforeTheTrailer is the most extensive in-production movie site on the Internet. BeforeTheTrailer’s unique fan-driven format gives readers the opportunity to discover information on all types of movies; not just the movies the site deems important (like you would find with blog-oriented sites). All information is validated through either regular contributors or local establishments to make sure that everything on BeforeTheTrailer is accurate.
Former film student David Boice would haplessly search the Web for a site that provided this kind of information on in-production movies. After little luck, Boice co-created BeforeTheTrailer and is now the site’s senior online editor. He took the time to speak with MM about how the Website came to be and what he hopes it will become.
Michael Walsh (MM): How did you come up with the concept for BeforeTheTrailer.com?
David Boice (DB): As a person who studied film production in college, I have always had interest in the area of film production, and a fascination with a look behind the scenes as films were being made.
Two years ago I was looking for behind the scenes pictures for a particular movie that was being made at the time and became frustrated. After looking I realized there weren’t really any Websites that focused on films that were in production for people like me. A lot of Websites have news about films that are going to be made, or have been made, but don’t focus on the ones that are currently in production.
Being a former film student, I knew there were other people out there like me who had a general interest in filmmaking. I had the belief that information was out there about a film that was being made people would want information, and it would give a centralized location for people to share information as well. When we first started we tried to go directly to the film production companies for information about filming locations, times and dates. Most of them laughed at us and told us they couldn’t give out that information.
We realized fairly quickly that getting information from the companies is like trying to get information from CIA, because the film production companies are so secretive.
I wanted a Website that would allow the everyday person to be able to partake in the filmmaking experience.
MM: What was behind the decision to go with a fan-driven information system as opposed to having professional movie bloggers like some other Websites?
DB: The original concept was to allow readers to sign up, create a user account and post “blogs” and pictures themselves about films that are being made in their area. I wanted to give film fans a central location to post and to share with other film fans. In the future we may return to that concept.
I believe, even though people enjoy receiving movie information from professionals, people feel they can relate and interact with the everyday person. People are so excited to have a Website which they feel is their own. People know they can e-mail us and we will communicate back, or people are just grateful that filming information is out there, which tells them exactly what they are looking for.
The Website has helped create a lot of career interest for people. Whether people are interested in acting and are able to become a film extra or if someone is interested in filmmaking and is able to view a film as it’s being made.
Of course there are the people who interested in particular movies, TV shows and stars. The reliable information seems more attainable when the information comes someone just like them.
MM: What type of filtering system is used to make sure all the information on the site is legitimate?
DB: We go through several steps to verify information. We try to verify filming information that comes in through our regular contributors or more than one source to see what they know if we are unsure the source is reliable or not. We will contact other sources, such as local businesses in the area, to verify the information. When filming occurs and street closings occur we will compare the information we receive with information the local county might have regarding road closings.
MM: Who would you consider to be the majority of BeforeTheTrailer’s readers? People looking to share information or people looking to receive it?
DB: A larger number of our readers, about 40 to 45 percent, come from search engines such as Google looking for information for specific movies or specific movie locations. A number of readers who initially come to receive information will return back to the Website to share specific information that have they have received or to share pictures and videos.
I believe the majority of the people that come to the Website have a real interest and a fascination in the area of filmmaking. Some have an interest in wanting to see the stars, but a majority have a greater interest in the process of filmmaking. In smaller locations, where films are not as much a regularity as they are in larger cities such as New York, “communities” are created around this common interest.
MM: How much information on filming locations do you receive from your fan base each day?
DB: It varies. We have found that the smaller the location, the more excited people are by having a film being made in their area. Over a five, six, seven-week period, when a film is being made, “communities” are created and these community members are enthusiastic to share and receive information on a daily basis.
We receive a lot of information on the fly. People are at work, and outside their window they see they are working on film so-and-so.
A large number of e-mails and pictures come from Blackberries and various portable devices to get us information as quickly as possible.
We receive information from various sources. I would estimate about 60 percent of our information comes from our fan base, whether it’s through the Website, our Facebook groups or Twitter. We also receive a portion of information from “City filming resources” and filming schedule calendars
MM: Are there movie fans out there who you consider “regular contributors?”
DB: The contributors vary from film to film, and location to location. During a filming shoot, so far we have been fortunate to receive information from consistent, regular and reliable sources. Whether it’s people who have been cast as extras or have actual filming roles. A lot of our information comes from people who live in areas and streets where filming is occurring.
In the smaller locations, when filming has wrapped, the “contributors” stay in contact as filming heads into post-production, and the readers are anticipating movie trailer releases and further information. I would say a majority of our viewers go back to their everyday lives after film shooting has stopped. If new films are in the process of production in the general area we have noticed that former contributors tend to share information about the new film.
In the larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver, where filming occurs on a regular basis, we do have a base of contributors who will e-mail us information they receive, whether it’s street postings or if they are witnessing on-site filming.
MM: Do you hope to someday expand the site? Perhaps be able to get information about filming locations from people working in film?
DB: The hope is, as more people and regions become aware of the Website, that more people will contribute information about films that are being made in their areas. There are so many films being made that are big and small that we want to be able to share that information with people to allow them to be a part of the filming process and to partake in the experience.
We would be excited to receive information from people who are working on particular films. It would be amazing to build relationships with the actors, film production companies or even the studios and to work together. It certainly would make it easier for us to receive information, and in return it would help to create a buzz and an interest in the film that is being produced.