Terry McMahon wanted to make a film so he turned to Facebook: his film just premiered at SXSW

Charlie CasanovaIn December of 2009, Terry McMahon posted on his Facebook wall that he was planning to shoot his first feature film, a “no budget” drama titled “Charlie Casanova”, during the first few weeks in January. He added, he was looking for individuals to help him find equipment, locations and cast. “This is sincere,” he emphasized. “So bulls—-ers f— off in advance.”

McMahon was shocked when he heard back from a large number of people, including strangers, all offering their time and resources. Soon enough, McMahon was able to put together a cast and crew and “Charlie Casanova” was realized: and this week it played at the South by Southwest film conference.

After three of his green-lit films unraveled, McMahon says he decided to turn to Facebook with his off beat idea. “Even though I posted at about 3 a.m. in the morning, the post went viral and I immediately heard back from people. I was astounded by the level of generosity.”

One individual, a self-described failed writer, requested a meeting with McMahon: a “mysterious, cloak and dagger-like” appointment at a train station. It was there, the writer gave McMahon 1000 euros — no questions asked. “That profound response, born out of two strangers connecting, sold me on the power of Facebook. I was very cynical about Facebook at first, but this was an amazing experience. I don’t think Twitter has that ability.”

McMahon believes he was successful because he never requested anything specific from his volunteers. “I didn’t want to say, ‘Can you give me $50.’ That felt wrong. It’s a political and philosophical issue. I could have said, I intend to burn down the house of a some white trash individual who’s bothering me, and need help. I guarantee you in short time, I’d have people responding and saying they’ll be there with their flamethrower. So that idea is dangerous when used by certain people. But on the other hand, it’s also exciting because it’s about the democratization of engagement.”

McMahon chose  individuals who were quick to respond and showed passion for the project, with little concern regarding film experience. “Who was I to judge them when I was trying to put together a film for nothing? My editor, for example, had never edited a feature before but had done music videos. I purposefully wanted to work with an editor who wasn’t overly experienced, because I wanted to try things an experience editor would have been able to talk me out of much faster.”

To read more, go to: wsj.com

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