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Sunday Night Movie Tweet-Along: How a Hashtag (#SMTA) Is Helping Several Thousand People Watch a Film at the Same Time

The #SMTA gang
The #SMTA gang

See also:

*More L.A. Weekly Film Coverage

*Our Calendar Section, Listing More Great Things to Do in L.A.

On December 5 of last year, a few self-described movie geeks put a simple idea into practice: they all watched a movie at the same time and tweeted along to it. Called the Sunday Night Movie Tweet-Along (#SMTA for short), the open-to-the-public activity took off in a way that few in the group seem to have expected.

Jenn Hoffman, one of #SMTA's founding members, says that "several thousand people" join in on any given given week before adding that, "We generate around 30-40 million impressions through retweets and favorited tweets." In one notable instance just last weekend, Corey Feldman was tweeting along to The Goonies from the Playboy Mansion and wound up being retweeted by none other than Hef himself.

Credit #SMTA's growing popularity to both the simplicity of the endeavor -- all you have to do is start the movie in question at the appointed time and tweet at will -- as well as the growing pool of celebrity guests who have joined in: Ethan Embry of Empire Records, Omar Epps of Juice, William Zabka of The Karate Kid.

It was Zabka, Hoffman says, whose involvement took things to a new level: "There was something special about poking fun at a film that was so beloved by our generation. It really sparked outside interest from new people and dramatically boosted our number of participants."

Next on the docket is James Cameron's True Lies this Sunday night, with special guests Tom Arnold and Eliza Dushku.

If any of this still sounds confusing, here's how #SMTA is described on its official website:

We all watch "together" from our own homes and use the hashtag #SMTA to tag our comments, jokes and observations about the movie. You can also put the hashtag #SMTA in your twitter search bar to see everyone else's comments about the movie.

This sort of online togetherness is very web 2.0, which is to say that people are connected to one another via shared interests and their ability to type pithy one-liners in real time. Based on some of the past movies to have been featured, #SMTA is also clearly aimed at internet-savvy twenty- and thirty-somethings with a certain irony-tinted nostalgia for the movies of their youth. True Lies, like a lot of their other choices, is as easy to enjoy on a semi-ironic level as it is on an entirely serious one. "Nostalgic films that have classic characters always provide the best fodder for #SMTA," Hoffman says.

"This entire idea started as a joke, but was sustained by a genuine love for movies and possibly an even more genuine love for watching the interaction on Twitter," she continues. "Seeing thousands of people using the #SMTA hashtag each week is both exciting and humbling. I think we really feel like we created something special -- not because celebrities participate -- but because it actually just feels really good to be part of it."

See also:

*More L.A. Weekly Film Coverage

*Our Calendar Section, Listing More Great Things to Do in L.A.

Follow me on Twitter at @slowbeard, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.


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