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When Twitter gives you lemons.

When Twitter gives you lemons. (photo)

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While no one knows how Twitter will manage to make money for itself, how it is at losing and making it for others has been a hot topic this week. At the Baltimore Sun, Michael Sragow looks into the so-called Twitter effect of instant feedback making or breaking a movie and — cautiously — concludes it’s mostly baseless.

As Gregg Kilday — film editor for the Hollywood Reporter — points out in the article, “Even if you don’t have Twitter, a lot of people, especially kids, have long had the ability to text each other, sometimes from within the theater… And for a lot of the mass-market movies, the potential audience will go whether friends tell them they’re good or not.” It’s business as usual: Twitter may be the most media-hyped manifestation of how much faster word-of-mouth can travel now, but — as Magnolia’s Eamonn Bowles puts it — “all the tiny little bits together [Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and others] can add up to something meaningful.” The individual building blocks, not so much. To paraphrase “Mean Girls,” quit trying to make Twitter happen, media.

More interesting is the case of Eric Proulx, who got all his funding for “Lemonade,” a feature-length documentary, from Twitter — surely a first. (Perhaps Twitter should be asking him how they can make some cash.) As Edward Boches writes, Proulx originally wanted to turn the stories of the newly unemployed he’d featured on his blog into a simple, short video of interviews, “something with production qualities similar to what you see on YouTube.” After soliciting stories on his Twitter and getting 75 answers in days, things moved fast: a production company in Boston volunteered its services, someone at Sony hooked Proulx up with a production house willing to donate free cameras, and — within two hours of several “at” Tweets — Virgin America donated free flights. Now HBO is interested.

It’s undeniably a cool story, and the trailer looks nice enough. But — like the people in London marching down the street to market “Skin” — it seems like a one-off rather than a template for other filmmakers. It’s almost certain money and help came in because of the overwhelmingly altruistic nature of the project: inspiring with stories of the freshly unemployed transforming themselves into the people they’d always wanted to be. You’d have to be callous not to play along.

The lesson in both cases is similar: convincing other people of the social value of your intentions is worth more than the form of media you use to get the word out. As long as people are convinced, they’ll get involved, whether you hunt them down on the street or solicit them online. Maybe, just maybe, future filmmakers working towards something socially worthy will have similar luck. But for every other filmmaker with slightly less obviously altruistic goals, Twitter will remain a conundrum: how to hype yourself and make friends without annoying people.

[Photo: “Lemonade,” Erik Proulx, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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