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TurnHere: Neighborhoods through the lenses of local filmmakers

TurnHere, the cool little video site started by Bay Area real estate entrepreneur and journalist Brad Inman, has revamped its site for an official launch this week. When we last wrote about TurnHere, it was still finding its legs and purpose.

Now Inman and his team are positioning TurnHere as a local video guide for both tourists and locals seeking places to go.

"Now it's very focused on destination and travel,'' Inman told us recently. "We said, let's use this for a travel experience or a local experience. Something that maybe I can turn to and depend on like I do craigslist or CitySearch, and say 'Hey, that's a place we're going to go tonight or this weekend.''

TurnHere works like this: The site hires experienced, local filmmakers to make short movies about cities and neighborhoods. The filmmakers have a fair amount of artistic license, so their movies are often spirited and infused with the filmmakers personalities. These are not bland, corporate travelogues. There's the drag queen giving a tour of the Lower East Side in New York and the opera singer giving a tour of the Upper West Side. Or the somewhat snarky look at Solano Ave on the Berkeley/Albany border. They are three-dimensional windows into neighborhoods that you couldn't get through the CitySearches or Judy's Books of the world. One film about the Temescal district in Oakland tells the story of the emerging neighborhood through the eyes of local firemen, residents and merchants.

So far, about 400 films are in the can. Filmmakers get about $500 per film.

TurnHere also makes films for local merchants that are featured on the site, part of the company's business model. A 45-second film ad that runs for a year costs about $1,500 $750.

"There's a click-through on these," Inman says. "I wasn't sure at first.''

The other part of the business model involves brand advertising that appears on the site and appended to the movies.

TurnHere has even created a community around filmmaking, as evidenced by the filmmaking blog hosted on the site.

"There's a lot of filmmakers out there,'' Inman said. "It's a big inventory of talent that's unfortunately underpaid. Not taken care of very well. We really promote them as individuals and filmmakers.''

Inman has several syndication partnerships cooking. He mentioned Google Earth, Microsoft Media Center, MSN Travel and Yahoo Travel, to name a few.

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I spoke with Brad Inman, TurnHere's founder and CEO, and posted the recorded conversation on my blog.


He is aiming to add thousands of videos per year, amounting to millions of dollars in investment. I think TurnHere is in a great position because they are operating in the travel space, which has proven to be monetizable online. An interesting competitive advantage is their focus on promoting their network of 2,000 filmmakers.



Doug Sherrets on July 20, 2006 8:53 AM
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