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The Twitter Time Machine: 5 Years of Filmmaking, In One Neat Timeline

Twitter Custom Timeline | The Illusionists

Profuse apologies for the lack of blog updates in recent months. I have been spending every waking moment editing The Illusionists and getting it ready for film festivals.

I’m really pleased to announce that the film is currently in the final stages of post-production: we’re tweaking the sound mix and figuring out licenses for classical songs. I’m also hard at work trying to replace the current (albeit terrific voice-over) with that of a male celebrity. Getting a well-known person to narrate the film could significantly impact the film’s future, increasing the likelihood of getting into well known festivals, amplifying the film’s message, and making it easier to secure distribution and TV sales…

These next phase of the film is pretty exciting: I look forward to seeing the kind of conversations and discussions that The Illusionists will generate.

Just today, we’ve officially added a new member to the Illusionists team: Anne Ditmeyer (@pretavoyager) will be our social media advisor. Anne has been a friend for many years and throughout the process of making the film, she has been offering invaluable advice on social media strategies and outreach.

Her first excellent piece of advice, at the start of our official collaboration? To take advantage of Twitter’s new custom timeline function to tell the story of the making of The Illusionists: from its inception to our days. I was thrilled to take on this challenge. I immediately downloaded the full Twitter archives from my two accounts (@_elena and @illusionists) and I’ve been hand-picking tweets that represent milestones or turning points in the making of the film. It’s awe-inducing to get an overview of five years of work this way. Following Anne’s recommendation, I made sure to include both ups and downs. Many tweets – especially from the early days of research – may seem redundant and a bit tedious, but they perfectly reflect what filmmaking is really like: lots of blood, sweat, and tears as you wait to get your film funded.

While reading through more than 70 key tweets that encapsulate the life of the film, you’ll start noticing something: amazing things started to happen when I decided to “take the road less traveled” and raise funding for the film online. Had I decided to take a more traditional route (TV funding), I would either still be waiting for an answer or I would have made a completely different film. I’m incredibly proud of the final result and truly pleased about the path I took, even if it has been harder and more stressful. After all, as they say: Nothing worth having comes easy.

Twitter has been instrumental every step of the way, connecting me with an audience, amplifying my Kickstarter messages, putting me in touch with experts that I ended up interviewing in the film, helping me get volunteers in each filming location and putting the film on the radar – it’s thanks to Twitter that editors from Indiewire, Vogue, Il Sole 24 Ore, Feministing and other amazing publications wrote about the project. Moreover, I’ve been getting requests by film festivals to submit a screener to them. The reason? They found the project on Twitter.

So, considering my fondness for the platform, this exercise of revisiting Twitter milestones has been particularly fun.

Without further ado, here are the highlights of 5 years of work on my documentary The Illusionists – in some 70+ tweets (the most recent tweets are at the top):