FilmFunds, a new company designed to replace test screenings with a social platform, launched at the Toronto International Film Festival. FilmFunds brings together crowd sourcing, gamification, personal interaction and even tools that determine emotional response to help decision-makers at all stages of a project’s creation.

The idea is that a trailer, preview, film, tv show, synopsis, advertisement or whatever gets uploaded, then the site’s members take it from there. FilmFunds tracks and analyzes what the members do, incorporating its existing and growing database of marketing and behavioral patterns.

Members get a vested interest in each project’s success (or failure), along with movie tickets, entertainment merchandise and other incentives. The person or company that uploaded the project pays to find out what FilmFunds learned.

FilmFunds is co-founded by Shelly Palmer and CEO Sean Stone, both of whom know their way around a screening room. Palmer is a producer, host and on-air tech specialist who also is managing director of Advanced Media Ventures Group and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Additionally, he developed a technology that is key to enhanced television voting. Sean Stone is an actor, director and documentarian who refers to filmmaker Oliver Stone as “Dad.”

“Over the last decade we’ve seen how social marketing can make a film or TV show successful,” Palmer said.  “FilmFunds posits a new form of social marketing that occurs before a project is made.  It offers a barometer and helps move content through the pipeline by creating an audience for it, giving millions of entertainment fans a stronger emotional connection by letting them become part of the creative process.”

Projects are separated into three categories: nascent projects; those already in production, or completed, and which need funds for the next stage; and major studio productions seeking marketing insights or grassroots, social networking support.

“What immediately drew me to FilmFunds is the idea of creating a virtual marketplace where filmmakers, fans and financiers can all intersect – like a film festival held 365 days a year,” Stone said.  “But rather than being exclusive, it’s democratic.  If a producer has a concept, a script, a teaser and so on, they don’t need to be at the mercy of the traditional Hollywood gatekeepers telling them ‘what people want.’  They can take it directly to the marketplace and find an audience for it.  As beneficial as FilmFunds will be for established filmmakers as well as studios, we can also be a springboard helping burgeoning filmmakers get discovered.”

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Photo by flickr user jaako, used under Creative Commons license