As an indie filmmaker, if you haven't figured out that the internet is, by far, the best marketing tool that you've got, it's time to take a step back and rethink your battle plan. If you've got a finished film, the web offers a lot of opportunities to build awareness, which should, eventually, increase your sales and/or get you distribution. Every film, and filmmaker for that matter, should utilize the web by having a website, getting reviewed by horror sites and by using social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. However, that's all for another post. This post is about using the web as a tool during pre-production.
I didn't really think about it until I read an article on Wired.com about how Gus Van Sant cast his latest film, a skateboard drama called "Paranoid Park", by using MySpace - link. When I read that, it really is a no-brainer that social networking sites can make great casting tools, but it got me thinking - it could be a great way to get a crew, as well. There's lots of people, in every market, that would love to work, for free, on a film and social networking sites, by design, will get you in touch with them. Further to that... if you get creative, you could even use the internet to get financing, as well.
I'm actually planning on writing a more in-depth post on using the web to get financing somewhere down the road, as I've talked with a few people who have raised money for thier films by doing things like: auctioning off producer credits on ebay, selling shares in the film or, straight up just getting donations via paypal. So, as soon as you've decided to film something, put it in stone - make the website and use the tools - "We're in pre-production currently and looking for people to get involved in all aspects, get in touch with us here." You never know who's going to get in touch with you.
The long and short is, the web is really the only marketing tool that's an even playing field between Hollywood and Indie-wood... in fact, I'd venture to say that some indie guys may even have a leg up in the online world because we probably understand it better... and knowing that, you should really exploit it.