The Making of a Monster: How STORYHIVE Enabled Me to Connect with Fans and Have a Blast in the Process

The following is a guest post written by Spencer Estabrooks, STORYHIVE Season 1 grant recipient and creator of the short film Sharkasaurus.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Locke

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Locke

I’m not sure which came first; the idea for Sharkasaurus or the STORYHIVE Insider Series event. Either way, the birth of Sharkasaurus was so closely tied to STORYHIVE that my mind has trouble separating it. When I look back on it, I understand that this was more than just a film; it was an opportunity to engage the community, make friends and have fun.

Sharkasaurus began on a whim. A water cooler conversation at the office; a proclamation by me, that the film industry had made every kind of shark movie possible – except for Sharkasaurus. That’s when the idea was born. In my head, Sharkasaurus would be Tremors meets Jaws. A dino-shark ravaging Drumheller, AB, a town known for the Royal Tyrell Museum and the Passion Play.

I’ve made other short films and learned one important lesson: filmmaking is a team sport. No one does it all alone. It’s what makes filmmaking difficult and special at the same time. I began by casting my two favorite actors, Michael Shepherd and Julie Orton, for the starring roles. I also worked with Gwyn Auger to split the management of our social media for the movie, including the official Twitter account. This allowed us to be “always on” and helped drive STORYHIVE votes for the film.

STORYHIVE, Sharkasaurus, TELUS, Spencer Estabrooks

Lethbridge Comic Con

The result of the social media blitz was a tremendous increase in fan support. We had tons of people that were excited to see Sharkasaurus come to life and I made a point to include the fans and people that supported me every step of the way.

After winning the grant, it was time to make the actual film. I ran an open media set; anyone could take pictures of anything or tweet anything. I wasn’t afraid of spoilers. I wanted the fans to feel a part of the process.

Keeping the Sharkasaurus fans involved was the key to its success. During the few short weeks of post-production, we released our behind-the-scenes video and stills. The result? Our initial screenings at STORYHIVE were packed with fans!

The main benefit of the STORYHIVE experience (beyond funding, of course) is that it pushes you out of your safety zone and forces you to connect with your fans. The fans love Sharkasaurus because it’s a fun film, but also because they were a part of it. Fans helped us get funding, liked our goofy tweets, commented on our photos and laughed at our jokes. They were a part of the Sharkasaurus journey from the beginning and continue to be a part of it today.

STORYHIVE is a Kickstarter-inspired online platform where local content creators can pitch their video project ideas for a chance at grant funding from TELUS.

The Season 2 Web Series, open to residents of Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary, is now accepting submissions for web series pilots until November 3. Check out the trailer here to see what it’s all about, and enter your pitch now. You could win up to $60,000 for your project, and get distribution through TELUS Optik TV on demand!