FAME V FORTUNE: Online Distribution versus The Film Festival Circuit

By June 20, 2013 Blog

The Release Window has become a critical decision for all content makers. BUT. It is no longer an either or scenario. There are a myriad of approaches being defined by the storytellers prepared to ask questions and gather data to redefine their options.

In the same week I attended a workshop with the Sydney Film Festival Dendy Awards Finalists – the top short film competition in the country at Metro Screen, as well as a session on Youtube for Pros presented by Screen NSW at Vivid Ideas. The critical decision around the prestige and critical acclaim of Film Festivals versus the opportunity for reaching a mass audience and making money online, has been swilling around in my head ever since.

Let’s start with this fantastic article, Showing Hollywood the way: how ‘Upstream Color’ hit iTunes without leaving theaters by Russell Brandom. Shane Carruth has beatean the big studios to simultaneous digital release with an innovative approach and a plan that embraces the options available today.

Upstream Color isn’t big enough to change anyone’s business model, but it also doesn’t have the clout to make larger theaters budge. Carruth’s plan from the outset was to have a 30-day theatrical release window followed by an online release (whether the movie was still in theaters or not), but it wasn’t always an easy sell. Arthouses were willing to accommodate his plans because of their interest in the film, and didn’t see streaming access as a threat.

The plan was to give the film just enough of a theatrical release to legitimize it before unleashing it to the more lucrative online markets. “I sort of can’t believe it was possible,” he told The Verge. But so far, it’s working.

As Carruth put it, “We came out May 7th, and we know we’re going to be there for the next 20, 30 years. That window is now infinite.”

If you put your film online, you won’t be able to enter film festivals. Right?

“Today, the majority of the top film festivals including Sundance and SXSW will accept your film regardless of its online status. You no longer have to choose between festivals and online. You can do both—and, in some circumstances, the two can work together to your advantage.”

Short of the Week have gone to the trouble of putting the details together for you in to one searchable, easy to use list.

Youtube is ugly and you won’t really make money from it. Right?

Kristen Bowen from Youtube recently spoke at Youtube: An Insiders Guide for Pros presented by Screen NSW at Vivid Ideas. The presentation covered a stack of new features including channel design and trailers, the guide, subscriptions, suggestions and advertising changes.  A third of Youtube in Australia is now viewed on a mobile device, the new branding options gives channel owners the option to control how their content looks across platforms very easily.

Watch the full run down from Kristen Bowen.

Noone in Australia is making money from Youtube. Right?

Jennifer Wilson chaired a great panel with Nick Murray CJZ) Steve Crombie (CJZ), Tony Broderick (Fremantle Media) where some valuable stats and dollars were quoted that you don’t get to hear in many other contexts. Whilst this talk is probably better suited to people looking at producing more episodic style content, it is useful to think about added-value content for audiences around more traditional film formats.

By Tiani Chillemi
Development Manager at Metro Screen
Twitter: @tianichillemi and @MetroScreen