On Wednesday, October 12th, 2005, Apple unveiled the fifth generation iPod. On top of the iPod’s typical ability to play mp3s, the new iPod is “featuring a gorgeous 2.5-inch color screen which can display album artwork and photos, and play stunning video including music videos, video Podcasts, home movies and television shows.”
Wait, TV shows on my iPod? Thanks to the efforts of Disney and ABC, we’re looking at episodes of currently popular shows like “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” coming direct to your iPod via the popular iTunes (they’ll probably rename it iEverything) interface. And that’s just the start, apparently short films and music videos are going to be readily available.
Imagine if a company had a huge stock of music videos and short films to supply content to the new iPod. Considering the amount of iPods likely to sell this holiday season, a company that had content could rake in millions when all those users start downloading.
A day after the announcement of the new iPod, MTV bought popular, and long-standing, internet shorts showcase iFilm.com. And though it’s just speculation, it’s hard not to see that with one major website acquisition, MTV set itself to be the ones who could supply Apple with the most starter and catalog content. Music videos (they have them in a vault somewhere even though they don’t show them on TV anymore), short films… what if MTV decides to start making their popular shows available for download? You mean I can download the daily TRL via iPod video podcast!?! Kill me now.
So now you might be asking, why are we discussing Apple and MTV? Has Film Threat become a shill for both? What does this have to do with me, indie filmmaker? One word: EVERYTHING.
For one, the need for content will not lessen, it will only increase. iFilm is a good start, but eventually their shorts resources will be exhausted. Got a good short? You’re looking at a new form of digital distribution. How far away could iTunes-sponsored film festival podcasts be? Imagine Sundance for download.
On top of that, it’s become popular, as a filmmaker, to blog the creation and subsequent production processes of your film. Peter Jackson’s got his “King Kong” blog, Kevin Smith’s detailing the current filming of “Clerks 2,” and even smaller studio films, like Rob McKittrick’s “Waiting” have gotten into the game. Imagine every beginner or lesser-known independent filmmaker also getting into the action. Hell, I blogged the filming of my first feature back in 1999 before the word “blog” was de riguer.
Plus, the landscape of guerilla marketing changes. A couple years ago it became apparent that for any independent filmmaker to succeed above the pack, it was imperative to have a strong website to direct audiences to, to keep the film on the public’s mind. Filmmakers cultivate mailing lists of journalists, film festival patrons and other industry contacts. Now the game changes, because instead of just press releases and web updates, you can show footage from your film. Instead of mailing lists, you can have podcast subscriptions. Got rejected from Sundance? Go to Park City with your iPod and show the film to folks waiting in line. Congrats, you’ve started the first iPod parasite film festival (industry note: I was the first one to say it and suggest it, so I better get credit). Pod-Dance, baby!
Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, filmmakers behind festival favorite “Four Eyed Monsters,” also had an announcement to make on Friday, October 14th, 2005, releasing their first video blog. As part of a new distribution strategy, the filmmakers plan on releasing more and more bonus footage of the movie, behind-the-scenes tidbits on the film and examples of the do’s and don’ts of indie filmmaking. Usually that ends up on a DVD as supplemental material, but as “Four Eyed Monsters” currently doesn’t have distribution, they’re doing things up differently, eschewing the normal “filmmaker plays festival circuit, makes DVD, sells DVD and hopes to make their money back.” And they’re also sharing their technique with the masses. On the heels of their first video podcast (which you can subscribe to via iTunes here), they’ve also posted a tutorial on how to create your own video podcast or MySpace video blog.
MySpace really brought it home for me. Blogs… they’ve taken over everything. With the majority of the MySpace profiles consisting of folks who own iPods, what happens when they decide to start doing their own MySpace video blogs? Didn’t Rupert Murdoch buy MySpace? Right now you can stream video that is hosted elsewhere on your MySpace blog page (currently being abused by music videos) for free. But what happens when folks start video blogging? How far away are we from MySpace charging for that privilege. Now it becomes clear how Rupert Murdoch, MTV and Apple stay rich.
In an attempt to climb onto this train before it’s too far off into the distance, we at Film Threat decided to try this video podcast thing out ourselves. On the next page, you will see the fruit of our efforts, created by following the directions posted in Arin and Susan’s tutorial (meaning, if we can do it, so can you). Thanks and credit go to Arin and Susan (will someone PLEASE buy their movie already).
Get the video clip in page two of IPOD, IFILM AND THE FOUR EYED PERSPECTIVE>>>
Feel free to discuss this story and speculate on the future of digital distribution and independent filmmaking at Back Talk!