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Miley Cyrus "Porn," Cyber Sex, and the Hollywood Backdoor: Filmmakers on Twitter Dos and Don'ts at LAFF

Miley Cyrus "Porn," Cyber Sex, and the Hollywood Backdoor: Filmmakers on Twitter Dos and Don'ts at LAFF

At last night's The Power of the Tweet Poolside Chat and the LA Film Festival, moderator Ari Karpel asked filmmaker Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) what initially attracted him to Twitter. "It was almost out of fear of being left behind," said the forward-thinking filmmaker. "The internet, to sort of quote our former president Bush--you're either with it or you're against it. It was a way for me to not take myself too seriously. With my films, I do a lot of cerebral sci-fi, and it can make my brain hurt."

Torture porn king Eli Roth said he came to Twitter to reclaim his handle from an impostor, and stayed when he recognized its power to protect the truth. "Twitter is a really great way to instantly dispel rumors."

"I was always fascinated with demystifying Hollywood," Roth continued. "I wanted to do everything you're not supposed to do. And then I had a total Twitter meltdown. I had cyber sex with like 300 followers in an hour."

"But it's really an amazing way to communicate with your fans, in a mostly non-sexual way."

Sitting to Roth's right, Adam Shankman rolled his eyes. "You're really high strung and complicated."

Shankman--director of Hairspray, producer of the Oscars, judge on So You Think You Can Dance--was taught to Twitter by fellow panelist Jon Chu (director of the upcoming Step Up 3-D), and now he has nearly 60,000 Twitter followers, the most of anyone on the panel. (His posting of photos of himself with a vamping Miley Cyrus on the set of The Last Song, branded by haters as "kiddie porn," probably helped stack the deck). "With fans, they don't live in our world, so they see [Twitter] as an access road to being a Hollywood player."

"When we were starting out, to get access to someone like Adam was so difficult," Roth said. "Now you can send them a link to your YouTube video." Kelly agreed--"I look at pretty much everything that comes in"-- and Shankman said he once passed a fan's YouTube clip on to his agent. "Andrew, are you going to meet with him?" Shankman called out to the crowd. A voice responded, "I'm going to represent him."

The panelists gave Twitter much credit for influencing audience attitudes towards mainstream film. "In the old days, you could fool an audience for a weekend," Roth said. "Now with Twitter, there's no escape--if you've made a shitty movie, people know within 15 minutes of the first show this thing sucks ass."

Roth described Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, in which Roth plays a baseball-bat-wielding Jewish-American soldier who kills Hitler, as "a pure word of mouth movie." Its marketing challenges ("Two thirds of it is in a foreign language, it's a war film without war, it's a Basterds film with no bastards, and Brad Pitt's in it for 20 minutes") were toppled by 140-character reports from awed early adopters. By the end of the film's first weekend in theaters, "it was the number one trending topic on Twitter, and it was the biggest opening of [Tarantino's] career."

That's all well and good, but the "don'ts" portion of the panel was, natch, much more interesting. After Shankman's Twitpicgate (which Kelly deemed "a nontroversy"), he says, Disney is asking casts and crews to sign a contract stipulation agreeing not to tweet from set. "Please let it be called The Shankman Clause," he cracked.

Roth offered the most useful bit of advice of the night. "I saw Ashton Kutcher's eulogy to Brittany Murphy on Twitter, and I was like, 'Oh my god, he really did that,'" the Hostel director said. "I love Ashton, but when someone's trying to do something really profound on Twitter, I'm like, 'Go fuck yourself."


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