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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Selling Short Films: The YouTube/B-Side Strategy

Jack Truman is a Missouri filmmaker whose short, "Phone Sex Grandma," played at Slamdance in 2006. (It stars his mom, disturbingly enough.) Truman also had a documentary short shown at Slamdance this year.

Here's his distribution strategy for "Phone Sex Grandma": put it up for free on YouTube (an ad plays briefly on the bottom of the screen), and offer viewers the opportunity to buy the short at iPod definition or DVD definition -- in digital form, without DRM -- from B-Side Entertainment. (It may also be available somewhere on B-Side's site as a physical DVD you can order ... but I couldn't find that.)

The YouTube version of the nine-minute short is here. It's chock full of profanity ... which makes me wonder again whether Web video needs some sort of ratings system, a la G, PG, R, NC-17. This'd probably be rated R for language.

Update: Truman tells me that the ad revenue from YouTube goes to B-Side, not him.

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  • The web already has a ratings system: SFW / NSFW

    By Blogger Dan Abrams, at 3:31 PM  

  • Update: Truman tells me that the ad revenue from YouTube goes to B-Side, not him.

    I'm not seeing the point here. If you are putting it up for free on YouTube just for the sake of getting your work seen, well, job done. Lots of traffic. Why do I need B-Side other than to put a buck in there pocket for every purchase?

    I'm being sincere, I just don't see the point. Why not use YouTube to get your short out there and have your own ad linked to a store you set-up on your own site where a store is live and downloadable versions of the short can be offered with revenue going to the filmmaker?

    By Blogger William, at 3:44 PM  

  • Scott, the MPAA ratings system, which is entirely voluntary, does apply to films that are being distributed via the internet.

    The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), which is the major trade association for video retailers in the United States, has adopted a policy which strongly endorses the observance of the voluntary movie rating system by video retailers.

    As a retailer, B-side, if they hold the internet distribution rights for films they sell on their site, could certainly choose to follow the voluntary rating system, and submit the films for which the hold the the web distribution rights to the MPAA for a rating.

    Alternatively, nothing prevents a filmmaker or distributor from attaching warnings or disclaimers, such as "strong language", or the like, to their film. They just can't self-apply the MPAA ratings of G, PG, R, etc., because those ratings are trademarked.

    By Blogger Jane, at 4:25 PM  

  • I don't see the point either.

    Once you've seen it, why pay to have another copy? Especially when you can always download it from YouTube using Firefox (like I just did as a Proof of Concept).

    Anyway the only films this will work for are the in-yer-face ones with outrageous content. Most films you'd only want to see once.

    p.s. Great site Scott! keep it up.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 8:47 AM  

  • IMHO it seems that the internet embrace content that is made primarily for it. Meaning, short attention span, comedy is generally king. Drama dies on the net, just dies. I think for drama to really work you need time to let the story unfold and you need to see faces, eyes, as big as you can. Not saying that a dramatic short isn't a good short, I just think it demands more of the viewers attention and that's not really what is going on here. I've downloaded shorts from iTunes because I have iTunes and it's easy and I watch them on my 23" Cinema Display so I can see them as big as I can. Yes, they are dramas.

    I think people want to download information and a quick clip that will give them a chuckle on the commute home, for the most part. Raunchy and outrageous clips are perfect for that. It's easy, it may shock and it has a quick fix aspect to it. That's like heroin.

    By Blogger William, at 10:00 AM  

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