8 Tips for Filmmakers Plunging Into Online Video

Last week I attended the Independent Feature Project (IFP)’s event in NYC, and was intrigued by some of the questions independent film makers were asking about online video. So here are some thoughts for aspiring film makers who are asking themselves the question, “how can I take advantage of the emerging online video space?” Ken McCarthy (SystemVideoBlog) also addressed this subject late last week.

  1. Consider online video sites a nice opportunity to promote your film. Put a trailor or short scene up and then invite people to a simple URL (that you own) to see or buy the entire film.
  2. If you hope people will view the entire¬†film online, break it into 5-10 minute chunks maximum. This is important because the online video folks are “generation ADHD” (I coined that just now, okay?). Shorter is even better.
  3. Use online video sites to power the film on your site. No reason to pay for hosting and streaming fees when video sites will do that for you, and you can simply embed the video onto your own site.
  4. film1.gifGet used to telling your story in shorter chunks. There will always be an appetite for feature-length movies, but today’s viral work is typically 2 minutes max. As McCarthy said, “The reality I’ve taken from what is now a twenty-plus year study of media is twofold: 1) media forms come and go and 2) most practitioners take years to adjust themselves to the new realities and in the process miss out on tremendous opportunities of the low-hanging fruit variety.
  5. If you want to be viral, your work should be shocking, funny, or stupid. That must be frustrating for an artist to hear, but that’s the current phase of the online-video evolution. People want lip synching, fights, extreme video and prank calls… not intellectual or emotional stimulation. They’re looking to escape scripted drama and see real reality TV.
  6. Use all sites to promote your movie, but consider exclusively using a site that pays you for your work. Some videographers, for instance, are exclusively using Revver or Metacafe so they can benefit from the ad revenue of the site. YouTube, while being popular, doesn’t pay creators.
  7. Tag your video carefully so it can be found by the niche you’re serving. And be sure to market the video. Here are some tips from a post earlier today.
  8. Create short videos as a way to increase your visibility, and then do the feature films as well. For instance, Dawn Westlake makes serious films. But she also posts silly videos for fun. She even spoofs the contrast in this video called “Indie Film vs. Viral Video.”

Finally, don’t be discouraged by the temporary appetite for meaningless videos right now. When the web first started, porn was the most frequently sought information. Now it’s… oh, never mind.

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