TEN REASONS TO PUT YOUR MOVIE UP ON YOUTUBE FOR FREE
So you've finished your movie, you've perhaps dipped a toe in the film festival world and gotten nowhere. You've approached traditional distribution with no avail, and self-distributing methods aren't paying off. What are you supposed to do now, let it collect digital dust? NO! Put it up on YouTube for free - and here are a few reasons why.
1. You are not going to get into Sundance. Sorry, it's true. I did an article/rant about the Film Festival circuit here. Sure, there are more festivals now than you can shake a schtick at, but unless you get into one of the big ones (Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, Toronto, etc.) a distributor is not going to seriously consider a film, regardless of quality. Thanks to digital innovation in filmmaking, there are just too many out there and the financial risks too great.
2. No one is going to pay to watch your movie. You may have convinced your friends to help you raise funds via a Kickstarter campaign (like I did), and perhaps even packed them in at a screening or two. But the reality is, if your film has no recognizable names and you are not a buzzed-about filmmaker with a strong following, no one is going to plunk down even $3 to stream your movie. Think about it: why should they? Nowadays, with piracy so rampant that even YouTube has full-length movies from major studios up for free, why wouldn't they just watch something they've heard of? Look! What would you rather do, watch a movie you've never heard of for $2.99 - or do a simple search in YouTube and find a pirated version of your favorite film??
And here's a link to my movie The Great Intervention - you can stream it for just $2.99!
Which link are YOU more likely to click on?!
3. You are not going to get your film on Netflix. Netflix's popularity is based upon them having the biggest blockbusters as well as critical darlings that populate the aforementioned Film Festivals that you are not a part of. There is a company called Distribber that will act as the all-important middleman between you and Netflix, and charge you up to $800 for the privilege of them negotiating a license for you. But here's the catch: Netflix won't accept your movie unless it's in their "database" of movies, which is made up of primarily - you guessed it - high-profile indie and major studio films. NOT yours. And even if they DO buy it, rumors are they will pay you peanuts.
4. You are not going to get a traditional distributor. Same rules apply to distributors - they are in it to make money, and their best bets are films with recognizable names that have been in major film festivals. Many distributors do something now called a "Service Deal" - meaning you pay for everything, promotion, prints, et. al, and they will put it through their network of theaters etc for either a cut or a fee. The most famous example success by this method is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" - released a DECADE ago. And LOOK - here it is on YouTube for FREE!
5. You will not get a review for your film. Aside from small-potato blogs (i.e. friends of yours, or within your local community) or podcasts, no major periodical will give you a legitimate review unless your film is either in the theaters, has a celebrity, or has something quirky or noteworthy about the film (maybe you could murder your lead actor just before release, to help).
BUT put it up on YouTube and, suddenly...
6. Your film WILL find its audience. YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the planet, with billions of hours of video being uploaded and watched - most of it for free. (There is a YouTube Rental section, recently created, but, again, you have to pay a servicer like Distribber to get it on there.) The cool thing about YouTube, is that once your film/video gets over 300 views, there are all sorts of demographics available about who is watching your film, including their age, sex, country of origin, and even a graph of their engagement over the course of the film. This is something Hollywood has paid shady marketing companies to do for years, and you get it here free. If your film does go viral, gaining thousands of viewers - that can certainly be ammunition for getting attention from the more traditional distribution sources (remember the controversial KONY 2012 campaign?)
7. It's a great promotional tool. Say you run in to a friend - perhaps even a friend who has industry connections. You get to talking about you and what you're doing. Your film comes up. You could say, yes I have a film and you can stream it for just $2.99 -- OR you can tell them it's up on YouTube for free - just type in (name of film) in the search engine. Which one are they more likely to remember/actually DO?
8. Your film can be an advertisement for itself. You can put up a low-res version, break it up into parts, uploading weekly to build/hook an audience, or periodically insert breaks encouraging people to support your art and buy the DVD. (If you made your film under SAG Ultra-Low Budget Agreement, a tiny percentage from any profit from streaming/downloading/DVD is sent to them to pay the actors.)
9. You can host your own virtual screening via a Hang-Out on Google+. I have not tried this, and this Facebook rival seems to have quickly lost its luster, but theoretically you can gather your "friends" in virtual "hang" and stream the film.
10. You can always TAKE IT DOWN!! Say you suddenly do hear from a film festival or a distributor. With one click, you can delete or hide the film from public view. It's that simple! No distributor/film festival needs to know that it is online, unless it is in your advantage to tell them.
These are the reasons I put my film The Great Intervention up for free - and here it is, for those readers who have made it thus far:
If you think I'm just bitter because reasons 1-5 happened to me - go ahead, watch my film and decide for yourself. If you do enjoy it, please comment and share! I am currently celebrating over 800 views - a drop-in-the-bucket, of course, but at least it is out there for people to watch and build interest in my art instead of sitting on a hard drive waiting for Havery Weinstein to call.
Stephen Moramarco is a writer/actor/director/musician and now a filmmaker. He lives in Lincoln Heights, CA.
Also, check out Steve's prior Film Courage posts:
Check out Steve Moramarco's Film Courage Podcast interview here.
Connect with Steve:
On Twitter @moremarkable
Also, check out the Film Courage Podcast with Dean Peterson on:
'How My Film Got 30,000 + Views on Vimeo.'
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