After looking more closely at the Wired News article on Netflix distributing independent films, let me take a quick spin through how it plans to proceed along with some related developments in the indie realm. This excerpt from the Wired piece suggests that Netflix buyers will be gatekeepers or scouts:
“Netflix’s move into distribution and production calls to mind early Miramax. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the founders of the company, toured independent film festivals like Sundance, signed innovative movies (early distribution deals included sex, lies, and videotape and Reservoir Dogs), created savvy marketing campaigns, and — –eventually –produced their own box office gold. Netflix is pursuing a similar model, and in just a few years it has distributed as many exclusives as Miramax did in its first 15 years of existence. “Last year we acquired four new titles from Sundance, and this year we’re working on about 12 deals,” says Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix. “Eventually we’ll be coming to Sundance and saying, ‘We can buy everything.’ There’s a deal for every film.”
An interesting and sensible route that puts Netflix at the apex of an existing filtering and vetting system for film makers. Is there any reason, I wonder, to create a more user-generated front end, hosted by Netflix along the lines of a YouTube, where it could offer clips of indie stuff — and test and enlarge the audience for such fare itself? Perhaps even offer automated contracts that minimize the time its buyers would have to interact with prospective film makers? Or would this be too much effort chasing too little chance of success?
An article (in the paper where I work) detailed the making of an indie film set in Palo Alto — the money capital of Silicon Valley. These movie makers have their own website just like the big Holywood releases.
It’s a new world. But there’s soooo much video in it that film sites will have to establish an audience at a plateau above the noise of all those short videos. (Or will short fare, zapped onto handhelds, become the new indie art form? Or will long and short coexist?) By the way, here’s a list of top 10 video sharing sites.