By: Alan Peterson
Behold, for we have reached the digital age! This is an age where anyone who participates in the wonder of Wi-Fi can make something of themselves. The Internet truly is something that has captivated the entire world. And more recently has become a way for people to communicate and connect with one another. The Internet has truly made the world a lot smaller, and has given a plateau for anyone with a signal to express their creativity. When mentioning ways we as people gain entertainment, you can no longer just say radio, TV, and books. You now also have to mention the World Wide Web. The Internet is now just as important as TV. And being that as it is, it is only right that filmmakers all across the globe take advantage of this golden opportunity to spread the word of their work; especially when it is now easier than ever.
With the existence of the Internet, sharing what you create is very easy. Anybody with a camera and an Internet connection could publish their own movie by just a click of a button. This ultimately opens up a huge venue for filmmakers to make an impression. When just looking at YouTube (just one of the many video uploading sites), and their fact sheet, it states that “people are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.” This clearly means that people are definitely taking advantage of the platform the Internet provides. But YouTube isn’t the only site that provides this. Take the time just to imagine the mass audience a filmmaker could be reaching if they were to upload their own movie, or movie trailer, to YouTube or Vimeo, or countless other video uploading websites. That filmmaker has the potential to reach billions of people all within a matter of weeks, days or even hours. Said best by Christopher H. Wright, writer for the website Film Industry Network, “YouTube and social media tools are great avenues for sharing your low budget productions. Build a fan base for your short films, and create an experience for your viewers. Fan clubs are your audience, and can help you secure distribution if you can prove you have a good following.” The Internet makes it extremely easy for a filmmaker to get connected with their audience, and possibly receive feedback, or tips. The filmmaker can now openly interact with the viewing audience.
Similar to what is happening in the music industry, the very same is happening to the film industry. With these sites that have self publishing abilities, as well as the various products that allow you to create movies on your own personal computer, filmmakers no longer need to get their script approved by a film studio to make, produce, and publish a movie. You could just get a movie editing program, a camera, have a working e-mail, make your movie, and then release it. There is no longer the need for a “middle man”. In essence, filmmakers now have the ability to distribute the same way any big movie studio can. And with the vast use of technology, a single individual can make it just as professional. It is now incredibly inexpensive for someone to purchase movie making kits that can simply be installed on their computer. The idea of a “middle man” in the film industry (being able to help make and release your movie) is dead. And many people in the film industry know this, and definitely are trying to adapt.
For example, influential and revered filmmaker Rene Daalder is trying his hand at using the Internet to better adapt the film industry to the digital age. Daalder, along with interactive designer Folkert Gorter, created a community driven website, entitled SpaceCollective that allows filmmakers, as well as photographers, a chance to post their work relating to the “current state of our species, our planet, and the universe”. Though this is a very niche like site, it still is a prime example as to how filmmakers can produce the films they really envision, interact directly with the viewer, and can really create unfiltered, unregulated art, with whatever message they are trying to convey. Another way the film industry is best trying to adapt is by using the Internet as a tool for marketing and promotion. Big “blockbuster” movies that are to be released by the “big movie studios” are now definitely utilizing the Internet the same way an independent filmmaker would. They are now using something that they call “viral marketing”. Viral marketing is when one (any filmmaker, big, small, or individual) promotes, or advertises, their film through “digital word of mouth”, and/or the Internet (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Funny or Die, Vimeo, E-mail etc.). This is a very powerful form of marketing, and has benefited the film industry tremendously.
Many films, with low budgets, have gained a huge profit from simply building a considerable amount of hype via the Internet (trailers, behind the scenes interviews etc.). Box-Office smash hits such as Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, and District 9, are all prime examples of the success of viral marketing. According to Nick Butler, writer for movieviral.com, Paranormal Activity was only made for a mere $15,000, but grossed nearly $64 million upon its opening nation-wide release in 2007 (which is a $63.9 million profit!). According to Eve Conte, co-publisher and editor of geeksofdoom.com, Cloverfield was made for $25 million, and made a return of $46 million upon its opening release in 2008 (which is a $21 million dollar profit!). It’s really easy to understand when you look at it. I mean why pay a top marketing firm to advertise your movie, when you can have the people do it for you…practically for free (via the Internet)? In a digital age that loves to share, I simply cannot see how any filmmaker (big, small, or independent) wouldn’t take advantage of such a great opportunity that the Internet provides. I think the point of viral marketing is best summed up by, once again, Nick Butler of movieviral.com, in saying, “a lot of studios will be turning to viral marketing, that’s for sure. Between this [Paranormal Activity] and District 9, viral marketing has proven to benefit low budget films (albeit Paranormal Activity benefited a LOT more). It’s cheap and effective – at least until it becomes overused, at which point it will seem like just another advertisement in a magazine. Marketers are just beginning to understand how to adequately use the Internet for advertising.”
There truly is no better time for filmmakers of all the sort and size to make films; and no better time to be creative, for we have been blessed with the Internet. Filmmakers wake up and get to work, because this is no dream.
Butler, N. (2009, October 27). Paranormal Activity: Viral Marketing At Its Best. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from MovieViral.com: The Latest Vira lNews for Film and Beyond: http://www.movieviral.com/2009/10/27/paranormal-activity-viral-marketing/
Conte, E. (a.k.a Empress Eve) (2008, January 22). ‘Cloverfield’ Mythos Explored: Monsters + Marketing = Millions. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from Geeks of Doom: http://geeksofdoom.com/2008/01/22/cloverfield-mythos-explored-monsters-marketing-and-millions/
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. “SpaceCollective.” 12 December 2010. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 09 February 2011 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceCollective>.
Wright, Christopher H. “Why Short Films Can Be More Rewarding Than First Time Features.” 11 October 2010. Film Industry Network . 09 February 2011 <http://www.filmindustrynetwork.biz/why-short-films-can-be-more-rewarding-than-first-time-features/5552>.
YouTube LLC. “YouTube Fact Sheet.” 09 February 2011. YouTube. 09 February 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/t/fact_sheet>.