Friday, January 22, 2010

Digital Exhibition and the Festivals

What are film festivals doing in increase distribution possibilities for their filmmakers and how are they using digital technology to do this and enhance their own position at the same time?

1) Sundance Film Festival is debuting films through VOD under a label called "Sundance Selects".  Three films that premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival will debut simultaneously into 40 million US households, via cable systems and satellite TV. The films will then be available for viewing for 30 days.  The films include Michael Winterbottom's and Mat Whitecross's sociopolitical documentary The Shock Doctrine, Benny and Josh Safdie's comedy Daddy Longlegs, and Daniel Grou's drama 7 Days (Les 7 Jours du Talion).

"Moving the storytelling of the Sundance Film Festival beyond 10 days in Utah remains a top priority for us," said actor Robert Redford, founder of the Sundance Institute, about bringing the event to a wider audience, including selected screenings of Sundance films in other US cities.

The Shock Doctrine, which screened at the 2009 Berlinale debuts January 28th. Based on Naomi Klein's book, subtitled ‘The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' the screening is followed by an onstage dialogue the author, Redford, and filmmaker Winterbottom.

The Safdies' Daddy Longlegs (previously known as Go Get Some Rosemary at its premiere at Cannes last year), is an autobiographical bittersweet comedy that screens January 22. Grou's 7 Days, described as the story of a doctor whose world is upended by his daughter's murder. The Canadian feature debuts January 22 at midnight program.

2) Sundance Institute today announced a collaboration with YouTube to make available for rent three world-premiere films from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Beginning today, films will be spotlighted on the YouTube homepage, after which they will also be available until January 31 at YouTube Movies. Two audience favorites from the 2009 Festival will also be made available for rental.

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival said, “It has been our goal this year to find opportunities for our filmmakers by linking them to our technology partners and YouTube has been a great sponsor and partner. The You Tube commitment to independent film is aligned with ours at Sundance. This begins a new age of connecting our artists directly to audiences.”

From 2010, three world-premiere films from the Festival’s new NEXT section – highlighting innovative and original work in low- and no-budget filmmaking – will be available:

Bass Ackwards (Director and screenwriter: Linas Phillips)—After ending a disastrous affair with a married woman, a man embarks on a lyrical, strange and comedic cross-country journey in a modified VW bus. Cast: Linas Phillips, Davie-Blue, Jim Fletcher, Paul Lazar. World Premiere

Homewrecker(Directors: Todd Barnes and Brad Barnes; Screenwriters: Todd Barnes, Brad Barnes, Sophie Goodhart)—The last romantic in New York City is an ex-con locksmith on work release. Cast: Ana Reeder, Anslem Richardson, Stephen Rannazzisi. World Premiere

One Too Many Morning (Director: Michael Mohan; Screenwriters: Anthony Deptula, Michael Mohan, Stephen Hale)—Two damaged young men recover their high school friendship by awkwardly revealing to each other just how messed up they've become. Cast: Anthony Deptula, Stephen Hale, Tina Kapousis. World Premiere

From 2009, two highly acclaimed films:

The Cove (Director: Louie Psihoyos)—The horrors of a secret cove nestled off a small, coastal village in Japan are revealed by a group of activists. 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award Winner. Available for one 24-hour period only.

Children of Invention (Director and screenwriter: Tze Chun)—Two young children living outside Boston are left to fend for themselves when their mother gets embroiled in a pyramid scheme and disappears. Chun was selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

The films will be available for rental from January 22 - 31. The price for rental will be $3.99, and includes an unlimited number of views during a 48-hour period (with the exception of The Cove which will be a 24-hour window). Filmmakers receive the majority of the revenue share, and none of the participating filmmakers opted to have a cap on streams - meaning there will be no limit to how many rentals can be purchased during the 10-day period. As of January 31, the films will no longer be available under their current deal with YouTube, however the filmmakers will be able to negotiate new deals with YouTube.

YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small. YouTube, LLC is based in San Bruno, CA and is a subsidiary of Google Inc.

For a festival that has built a reputation as a marketplace for new American work for nearly two years, the moves to bring Sundance films to audiences via VOD during the event marks a noteworthy shift as filmmakers try to cash in on the Sundance name, hoping that it will drive immediate interest in their work.

UPDATE:  NewTeeVee has this report on the You Tube experiment:

Written by Ryan Lawler

Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 4:39 PM PT

YouTube Users Pass on Paying for Movies

Indie filmmakers looking to YouTube as a possible new distribution outlet might want to think twice, based on weekend returns from the video site’s new movie rental service. Last week, the online video site teamed up with the Sundance Film Festival to make a small selection of critically acclaimed full-length films available for rent for 48 hours.

But, despite a post on the YouTube blog and pickup from various tech blogs, very few users have actually taken YouTube up on the offer. Based on a quick look through the movies that were made available, it appears that YouTube viewers rented the five films less than 1,500 times in total, or an average of 300 times each. At $3.99 a piece, that means the indie films generated less than $6,000 in total sales over the course of the weekend, or about $1,200 per movie — and that’s before YouTube took its cut for hosting the files.

Video Views:

Bass Ackwards 308

Homewrecker 308

The Cove 303

Children of Invention 301

One Too Many Mornings 250

That’s bad news for the films involved, and could be bad news for YouTube, which is looking for new ways to monetize videos through sales and rentals. While the films are independently produced and haven’t generated the same amount of buzz as some Hollywood blockbusters, the low view counts are surprising, given the buzz before the film festival and prominent “featured” placement from YouTube.

The good news for YouTube is that it’s still expected to become profitable this year. In a recent research note, Barclay’s Capital analyst Doug Anmuth suggested that YouTube would add to Google’s bottom line for the first time in 2010, with revenues growing more than 55 percent year-over-year to $700 million.

3) The San Francisco Bay Area’s California Film Institute is launching a non-profit division to distribute films theatrically.

Dubbed CFI Releasing, the new unit will kick-off with Marin County residents Noah and Logan Miller’s “Touching Home.” The film stars Ed Harris, Robert Forster, Brad Dourif as well as Lee Meriwether, and also includes the Millers in their acting debut. It is based on their own story.

The film will be have a limited release this spring, launching in seven markets including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Denver. It will open in April with a gala premiere at the California Film Institute’s Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, CA.

“Our focus going forward will be on distributing independent films with an original voice that have something distinctive to say,” said CFI’s Fishkin, in a statement. “Our distribution arm will develop organically in a productive way that supports the organization, while supporting who we are and what we do. Our hope is that these films and their filmmakers will greatly benefit from our long film festival and theatrical presentation experience.”

4) Slamdance has announced a worldwide video content collaboration with Microsoft on both Zune and Xbox platforms.  Zune video Marketplace will make the selected films available on video-on-demand across North America on both Zune and Xbox platforms. During this 7-day period movie fans have the opportunity to rent some of the same films being screened at the Slamdance Film Festival on their computers or through Xbox LIVE. Price per film rentals during the festivals will range from 600 to 880 Microsoft Points*.

Thereafter, the video content from Slamdance will expand worldwide through the Zune Marketplace with year-round programs featuring download to own and rental videos to the more than 20 million Zune and Xbox LIVE members. The first films in the collaboration include two documentaries and two narratives, showcasing Slamdance’s range of emerging diverse and independent voices.

The initiative will launch during the festival on January 27 with a four-film, seven-day programme providing video rental throughout North America.

The films are the documentaries American Jihadist and Mind Of The Demon: The Larry Linkogle Story, as well as the fictional titles The Scenesters and The Wild Hunt.

Online film store Zune Marketplace will make the selected films available on VOD across North America on both Zune and Xbox platforms.

During the seven-day period customers will have the opportunity to rent some of the same films being screened at Slamdance on their computers or through Xbox LIVE. Film rental costs during the festival will range from 600 to 880 Microsoft Points.

After the initial window, video content from Slamdance will expand worldwide through the Zune Marketplace with year-round programmes featuring download-to-own and rental videos to Zune and Xbox LIVE members.

Additional Slamdance films will be added to the programme throughout the festival, which runs in Park City from January 21-28 –

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