Unless you’re one of those award winning notorious film makers like say Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, or even Aaron Sorkin these days, it can be hard to find others to collaborate with, share feedback and share ideas. As L.A. entrepreneur Cosmo Scharf discovered, it’s even tougher at the post production level. That’s why he created Blosmo.
Scharf, a student at the University of Southern California, decided he wanted to start a social network for film makers. As he tells us in the interview below, after collaborating with his buddy Corey, they narrowed down the social network to those in post production.
Blosmo is as much a collaboration tool as it is a social network. Right now, independent film makers don’t have many avenues for feedback, ideas and suggestions. YouTube comments, when they aren’t spam, are immature and not very helpful. Even though Vimeo has a more professional audience, the comments aren’t very useful either.
Blosmo gives their community members access to a higher level of feedback from likeminded, professional or semi professional film makers. Comments on Blosmo are incentivized through a point system where users can actually receive prizes and rewards sponsored by film companies. The points also give film makers access to discounts on gear and equipment.
Check out our complete interview with Scharf below.
What is Blosmo?
Blosmo is a social networking website and collaborative feedback tool for student and professional filmmakers during post production. Blosmo will be the first website to crowdsource genuine feedback for online videos, propelling the quality of films forward.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
A custom video player allows users to tag specific parts of the video timeline with comments to provide feedback directly linked to a specific shot. Comments can point out technical issues with lighting, sound, or editing, or solve creative questions like what kind of music to use. Privacy settings can be configured so that videos can be viewed by either a select few or everyone on Blosmo. Every user has a profile page where they can upload their films to their portfolio. These film credentials are used to back up their criticism, and unlike YouTube, the people on Blosmo actually care about each other’s work.
Commenting is incentivized through a point system where users receive rewards sponsored by film companies at certain point levels. Companies pay us a fee to get their products advertised so we make money, they get their products in front of their target market, our users get discounts on gear they want, and everyone produces better videos as a result of the feedback.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Cosmo Scharf is a freshman film production major at USC with a strong interest in entrepreneurship. This unique mix of film and business knowledge allowed him to realize the need for a social network for filmmakers and conceptualize Blosmo. He won first prize at the FutureWorks Entrepreneurship competition at the McBurney Y for an iPhone application concept named Allerscan. He managed the production of an iPad application called Peekaboo Prank that is currently for sale on the App Store.
Where are you based?
We are based in the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Blosmo is still in early development so we aren’t very familiar with the startup scene here. I do know there are many business competitions, entrepreneurship seminars, and venture capital firms here though.
How did you come up with the idea for Blosmo?
I had the idea for some kind of social networking site for filmmakers since the beginning of summer. It was not till I talked to my friend Corey that I really narrowed down the scope of the idea. The concept was refined from encompassing all of filmmaking to just post production.
How did you come up with the name?
Blosmo was the name of a technology blog I used to have and we took it for this current project. Since we are in the beginning of development, the name Blosmo is subject to change.
What problem does Blosmo solve?
With current technology, it is very difficult to give and receive high caliber feedback on film projects online. Typing detailed notes is cumbersome and often requires an external program in addition to the web interface. One must switch back and forth between applications, manually writing down the time in relation to the comment.
In addition to the complicated feedback process, the quality of online comments is also poor. Most comments on YouTube are immature and unhelpful. Even the comments on Vimeo, which has a more professional community of real filmmakers, don’t contain much substance.
What’s your secret sauce?
The custom annotative video player and point system.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
We are looking for funding to pay the developers, a graphic designer, and server space.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
One challenge I’ve overcome is finding people who can actually build my idea and make it a real website. I came to USC with a concept and now we are making it a reality.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
One of my mentors is Jeff Watson, a professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He has helped me refine my concept and introduced me to people who could give me advice.
What’s next for Blosmo?
We have a very basic prototype right now but the biggest goal is producing an alpha build that we can get to testers. We planned to have a closed beta for USC film students and later open up access to everyone.