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The New Auteur

Independent Film in Times of the Internet

Monthly Archives: October 2009

Finally some experimenting with “Giving it away for free” from a UK cinema chain: Slackers Club (probably Michael Moore fans). Picturehouse Cinemas has teamed up with E4 to let students watch films for free – ones a month – and force everyone who shows up into alcoholism by providing them with a free Stella Artois – so they even got some sponsoring money.

This goes a bit against the notion of freely giving away infinite goods and charging for scarce goods. It follows another strategy: Create a free event and earn with ancillaries – sponsoring, food, drinks, etc. – and hope to create a future audience.

I wonder why cinemas don’t experiment more with free stuff:

  • Everyone who pays for the online premiere of a film (preferably a local indie production) will be able to watch it for free in the cinema.
  • Watch a film at the cinema (and pay for it) and get a free download (to rent or own) of that film.
  • Pay for a new film of a filmmaker and download an older film for free.
  • Pay a monthly subscription fee to have online access (probably streaming) to all films that are shown in the cinema this month (okay, there is not really a free option here).
  • Let people watch a basic version for free online and charge for an extended cut of the film in HD plus Q&A with the filmmaker at the cinema.
  • Give away deleted scenes and Making Of documentary online and charge for film.
  • Create an online audience and earn with advertising.

In general, I think, cinemas should try to use the internet much more to attach the audience to them. Create online events or contests. Have additional content online – not just a synopsis of the film but also trailer, deleted scenes, making of, director’s commentary, I-don’t-know-what. Let audiences vote on films they want to watch. Let them comment on films they have seen. Attract the audiences of local filmmakers by having slots for their films (Manchester Monday, Territorial Tuesday, Community Wednesday – I’m sure someone can put it much better).

Speaking of local: You are a cinema. You are a local thing. Sure, the blockbusters bring in cash – and that’s how it should be. So show them. But remember, everyone shows them. Start getting an identity by being part of your community. Bring together local film fans with local films and their filmmakers. Be special. Get a face.

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NewTeeVee has a post on VideoWTF, a video-related Wiki/Yahoo-Answers like site. From what I’ve seen, I think it looks clean and tidy – something that is usually a problem when a lot of questions and answers of a lot of people come together. But will we rather seek help from VideoWTF than asking Google?

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Here is an interesting new project. Arin Crumley already used the Web to find audiences for his own film Four Eyed Monsters. Now he helps building a bigger platform for other filmmakers.

OpenIndie basically allows fans (and the filmmakers themselves) to request any kind of screening of any film on the site where ever they want. Once a screening is requested, emails will be send out to fans nearby, informing them about it. At the screening, donations can be collected for the filmmakers. All participating filmmakers will add their email lists to the database of emails (and zip codes – I’m guessing this is US only in the beginning). A pretty cool collaboration tool between filmmakers and film fans. Lets hope it will work.

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I love to discover watchable films online (and yes, I do watch long-form content online). Whether it is the brilliant Keith Loutit and his technical masterpieces or 45356 – the 2009 SXSW winner that was available for free on SnagFilms. Just yesterday, I finished watching For Love & Stacie. A cleverly made film, I would definitely not have seen if it weren’t for the internet.

Those kind of films always put me in a dilemma: Did I enjoy them? Without a doubt. Are they good calling cards for their directors? Hopefully. Did the filmmakers make money with them? Possibly not. So the internet seems to hold good things for me as part of the audience but screws over the makers of those good things. But then again, I always wonder if money is the only thing that matters. Those films are out there, telling their makers’ stories and are appreciated. Is that not also important for artists? And for the business man: If those films lead to new business options for the makers (either new films or even merchandize/advertising/short theatrical runs of the films that already found an audience online) that would be great. So the business-half of our brain might see them as investments. And then everybody wins (audience, artist, businessman).

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