You might ask, why another professional social network? I'm already on LinkedIn and Plaxo and don't spend much time there as it is? Do I really need to join another network?
As a former video freelancer myself I have many friends who are still freelancing on commercial and corporate productions who would greatly benefit from this sort of network, especially in these grueling economic times.
Here's UNUSUAL's pitch: One of the biggest challenges for the film professional is getting his or her reel noticed ; whether you're a director, actor, make-up artist, or grip. Until now, film professionals had to fraction their attention into various places online, with none of them singularly doing the job: Your IMDd profile lists the credits of associate productions and films, a couple things uploaded to YouTube, some other things brought together into a portfolio/book/clips website, some other things uploaded into Flickr or another site.
Even if people would regularly scan all these sites , none of these current solutions do a very good job of protecting copyright, privacy, and so forth. In addition, these previous array of solutions don't allow is the sort of high-quality, longer-form works that best show the quality of your work. Finally, UNUSUALS has come along offering what the others don't - a worldwide community of commercial film professionals and their complete, high quality reels on display.
I conducted an email interview with UNUSUALS Managing Director Nayer Paknia to get more detail about his networking site which follows below.
Larry Kless: Where the idea came from and how did you get started?
Nayer Paknia: The UNUSUALS team is made of directors, executive producers and producers with more then 10 years experience within the international commercial film world. We saw all the needs, problems with other existing sites, complications in the daily business & we wondered why no one puts all these services, which are very badly needed into one single site. At some point we thought: Let's just do it ourselves. We know what's missing. No one knows our users better than we do. Yes it is a big idea with lots of research, discussions, focus groups around the world. It took us 2 years to finish the concept only and offer something new. Something innovative to push the industry one huge step further.
LK: What's your main value proposition(s)?
NP: UNUSUALS is a business utility for a worldwide commercial film industry, connecting its people & their reels.
LK: Who is behind the scenes running the site? Who's sponsoring it?
NP: A big group of commercial filmmakers. 3 of us work full time for UNUSUALS now. And of course our programmers. So far our own private money. But we're interested to involve potential investors, just because we have many more ideas on how to expand the site but our budget is pretty limited now ;-)
LK: How are you marketing the site?
NP: So far we've used our own personal contacts. UNUSUALS launched in the beginning of 2009 and we already have 1200 members signed up. Most of them our own contacts. We're planning different marketing strategies. If the 1200 members are happy with the site, which they are so far, we're sure they'll help us to spread the idea, since this small industry is pretty well connected worldwide.
We'll use different blogs and other networks to reach the individual filmmakers around the world. We'll represent UNUSUALS in Cannes commercial film festival this year and cooperate with other companies through links & advertisement. Since we've already put lots of money into this site we cannot really focus our marketing into advertisement, which would be expensive. Besides we don't think that advertisement would really help us but rather word of mouth marketing.
LK: How are you monetizing it?
NP: We offer 3 different kind of memberships. Basic membership is and will always be free of charge. With a basic membership you can already do a lot. Present work, get connected, get discovered .. Standard and Advanced memberships cost a bit, because they include special services such as personal archive, UNUSUALS monster search etc.
LK: What's the short and long term goals?
NP: Short term goal: To get as many professional and good filmmakers, production houses, post production houses, sound studios etc. involved in commercial films into the database as possible. Within the next year UNUSUALS will be a place to find anyone in the commercial film industry. Not only their names and empty profiles, but also their films, spots, music clips etc.
Long term goal: We'll definitely expand our services for the advertising agencies. Because they're the ones who are offering jobs for companies and the companies offer jobs to crew members. So we've put together some good ideas for serving the advertising agencies.
If I want to communicate with my friends I use Facebook. But if I want to communicate with my business partners and get new contacts for my professional live, I use UNUSUALS. Our plan is to offer a separate place for networking with business partners. We don't like how these two different worlds get mixed up in Facebook. My business partners can see what my close friends say about me and tag my pic. on the wall. Facebook is great but we need to go one step further. But Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter will definitely help us to reach out to the filmmakers worldwide & inform them about the UNUSUALS news.
UNUSUALS is offering a 6 week free membership with access to all of the services on the site upon registration. Register with UNUSUALS now, free of charge, to get started.
For more information see the social media news release which explains everything: http://www.unusuals.net/smnr/
Visit UNUSUALS at http://www.unusuals.net
Update 2/15/09: Corrected some translation from German to English