The Future of Film Distribution and Social Media
“We want prove that Web distribution is a viable medium for theatrical quality movies which rely on story, characters and dialogue as opposed to special effects. For many reasons the theatrical indie landscape has changed drastically in the last few years, leaving many potential breakout hits without an audience. We are excited to break the rules of feature films by letting people watch our movie for free online.” Sebastián Gutiérrez (Director, “Girl Walks Into A Bar”)
There is something very exciting happening in film distribution. As social media continues to expand its reach across the globe, the relationship between audience and content continues to evolve. To meet this change, creators are beginning to see the necessity in freeing their media to the masses via these channels of mass disbursement.
“Girl Walks Into A Bar” is the first in this effort, distributed for free on YouTube, under the YouTube Films distribution banner. The film, which cost only $1 million to produce, what shot in 11 days using DSLR 7D cameras and features a cast of notable names, including Zachary Quinto, Carla Gugino and Danny Devito, all of who clearly took a pay cut to do the project.
The film is sponsored by Lexus, and ads promoting the company are featured prominently throughout the film. During its opening weekend online, over 250,000 people viewed the film at as of this writing it has been viewed 333,450 times. This number, while considerable, pales in comparison to some other YouTube sensations, including recent meme Rebecca Black.
There has been little to no promotion for the film through the social media outlets, which seams unwise considering the project’s reliance on the social media demographic. If social media film distribution is to be successful then it must make use of a social media solution for the film’s marketing. Given the film’s small budget, a social media campaign that employed an effective Facebook, Twitter and YouTube networking cycle would have been ideal.
The film itself, while interesting, may not be suited for such a groundbreaking experiment in distribution. A “viral” production, in the vein of “Paranormal Activity” would be better suited to spread outwardly at a rapid rate. This is not to say that films such as “Girl Walks Into A Bar” should not be distributed this way, in fact this is a brilliant way to get low budget indies out to the masses, yet a foundation needs to be built upon films that have a larger appeal.
In order to drawn people away from theatres and prevent them from torrenting the latest release, films distributed via YouTube or other social media, must be compelling and captivating. “Girl Walks Into A Bar” while first out of the start gate, just doesn’t have what it takes to sell the idea of viable free web distribution.
A film with no recognizable names, but with a more compelling and involving film and an even more involving social media campaign (think Dark Knight) would have made this into something huge enough to guarantee a inlet for more films to gain sponsorship and be seen in this medium.
As with all experiments, it may take a few times to perfect this process and “Girl Walks Into A Bar” deserves all the honor of being the first to make the leap.