Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 11:36 UK

The film with 90,000 'producers'

CoProducer is a collaborative movie-making project which aims to allow ordinary film fans the chance to help make decisions on every aspect of a film from start to finish.

BBC News entertainment reporter Genevieve Hassan has signed up and is following its progress.

CoProducer website
Subscribers have to fill in a minimum of six surveys about the project

"Man chosen to serve on the jury of a murder trial where he is killer."

"Woman decides to accept all online date requests for a month."

Would you pay to see either these films in the cinema? I probably would - and I may be able to choose who stars in them, too.

I received an email in August inviting me to participate in a new film project which promised to give me real input on the making of a movie.

CoProducer aims to allow everyone who signs up to become just that - co-producers on a film, helping to make decisions on everything from the plot to the marketing.

In return, they get a share of the net profits - although with 90,000 movie fans already signed up, the reality will be more like a thank you credit than hard cash.

I thought I'd sign up as a movie fan, as I was interested to see what influence I could have.


My first task was to submit a few one-line movie ideas for everyone to vote on. Then I was asked to rate a sample of 20 other pitches, from a pool of more than 1,400.

Some of them I was sure had already been made into films but others seemed like films I would genuinely want to see - including the intriguing premise: "Man digs up a corpse which he IDs as himself".

The site also has a surprisingly intelligent discussion board, with film fans keen to put their thoughts across on how to develop the potential plotlines.

After a few rounds of rating, the top 10 shortlisted ideas are now being voted on to see which will go forward for script development with professional writers.

Stephan Shakespeare
This is about being true to the concept of doing it together which means we trust people to make good decisions
Stephan Shakespeare
CoProducer founder

I met Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder of opinion polling website YouGov and the mastermind behind CoProducer, to find out a bit more about the motivation behind the project and what he hopes to achieve at the end of it.

"I thought I'd do this as a separate project to see if creativity could be harnessed in a simple voting platform," he said.

"The basic principle is that any decision that can reasonably be taken by the group should be taken by the group.

"We're not going to stop and have a vote about every camera angle, but if you think about casting, we can put casting calls and auditions online that people can look at."

Battle re-enactment

But CoProducer is not the first user-generated movie project.

Comedy film Faintheart, created by the My Movie Mashup project on MySpace, began development in February 2007. Users voted for a film pitch, developing several scenes and auditioning for parts in the movie.

Starring Trainspotting actor Ewen Bremner and Spaced star Jessica Hynes, the film, set in the world of battle re-enactments, closed the Edinburgh film festival - although its original release date of October 2008 has been pushed back to February 2009.

Here, the director and the bosses holding the money made most of the key decisions and kept control of the film.

With CoProducer, Mr Shakespeare insists it will be the panel that steer the project, which has already secured funding.

Faintheart was created by the My Movie Mashup project on MySpace

"Clearly if people were to have an obviously stupid idea as their number one idea, then something's seriously gone wrong, but I don't think that will happen," he said.

"This is about being true to the concept of doing it together which means we trust the people that are taking part to make good decisions."

The only time Mr Shakespeare may have to step in is if the chosen idea goes beyond the project's budget.

Final cut

But he is confident his project will be a success, and that a change is coming in the film industry.

"This is not the first time that fans have been part of the movie-making process, but I think this is the most thoroughgoing process to structure everything around audience participation," he said.

"I want this team of tens of thousands of ordinary fans to challenge everything about the way a movie is made from initial idea, to final cut, to marketing.

"I think there's a lot more change ahead than anyone has yet grasped."

It will be interesting to see how many of the decisions I make will make an impact on the final cut and I'll be following the project's progress - hopefully through to it's eventual release.

Film fans who want to get involved can still sign up to take part and possibly have the satisfaction of seeing their name scrolling at the end of the credits.

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