Posts Tagged ‘popular culture’

Influenced by new documentary

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

affiche_h-influencers

I’ve just seen the short film ‘Influencers’ and have recommended it to the rest of the Katapult team. It provides a valuable insight on how influential individuals can be to the world around them and the nature of fast moving trends within popular culture.

The film attempts to understand the essence of influence, what makes a person influential without taking a statistical or metric approach. Written and directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, the film is a Polaroid snapshot of New York influential creatives (advertising, design, fashion and entertainment) who are shaping today’s pop culture. Influencers belongs to the new generation of short films, webdocs, which combine the documentary style and the online experience.”

Released as both a web video and an iPad app, the film features leading ‘influencers’ in both the media and the virtual world.

The trailer tells us that “An influencer is someone who has a different way of thinking and a different way of expressing themselves.” They are typically early adopters who embrace all forms of culture, people who others listen to and respect, who have the ability to recognise what the next best thing is and popularise it, people who can take an unknown idea and send it mainstream. A few people in the film give Jay Z as an example, claiming he is an influencer over culture, communities, kids and his peers, from the clothes he wears, to his attitude and music. But influence is totally subjective, in terms of what you like and how much you choose to be influenced by it.

This creates a separate, equally interesting discussion about the concept of unique vision. By looking at the success of influencers, we see inspiring individuals with many similar traits – innovation, creativity, vision and risk-taking – who have changed the face of popular culture. However, what about the people who share these traits but haven’t had the same success? Doesn’t being in the right place at the right time and ultimately luck,  play the biggest role in the uptake of popular trends? Only those consuming the product, music, entertainment that is being advertised can really make the trend contagious and no ‘influencer’ however visionary can foresee or predict that.

In addition to this is the fact that there are so many people who are early adopters of trends and then immediately turn their back when the trend takes off. Similarly there are those that take up something for the ‘cool factor’ which the film also discusses. This highlights the fickle nature of trends in many ways. One of the film’s subjects even suggested that ‘cool’ is what you do at home, on your own when you’re not trying to impress. Should this term ‘cool’ even be used anymore in the creative industry? Isn’t the very word outdated?

Deirdre Maloney from BPMW agency mentions that her business partners inspire her, but the film mentions little about the ideas generation process that agencies go through together to analyse and debate concepts. The notion that it is the creativity of individuals that is significant is quite disappointing. Sky Gellatly, however, director of strategy for Epiphany says “when you get to a certain place, if someone has helped you get to where you are, you must help identify younger talent and be the mentor for somebody else”.

The co-CEO of Cornerstone explains what we all know, that influence is all relative to what you like and who you look at; “what i’m infuenced by is incredibly different to what you’re influenced by”. For example, i’m not a big fan of Jay Z but I really like the soundtrack to this film!

Make your own judgement on the 15 minute film by watching it