Over the past few years, I have noticed an increasing amount of independent filmmakers self-distributing their work via the web. What I have found interesting is that not only are these artists getting their work out to the public, they are also making a connection with their viewers that they might not have otherwise made without the internet.
In my short documentary, I interviewed Sean Keane, a rollerblader/independent filmmaker/self-distributor. Not only does he self-distribute his rollerblading films, but he also could care less about the money. For rollerbladers, it’s more about contributing to the community and supporting one another, rather than profiting.
All independent filmmakers should have this sort of mutual support.
A few years ago I started watching video podcasts on the MySpace of filmmakers Aaron Crumley and Susan Buice. They were vlogging about the film they had made called Four Eyed Monsters. New episodes would come out periodically, and they featured the making of the film and the stress pertaining to marketing their film through self-distribution.
The film Four Eyed Monsters is loosely based on Aaron and Susan’s relationship. They decided to only communicate through media (the Internet, videos, drawings, notebooks). In a world where the Internet threatens in-person human interaction, Aaron and Susan decided to use this as a means to enrich and develop their relationship.
They gained popularity amongst MySpacers. They even landed a deal with Sundance to have a screening of their film in Second Life (how appropriate). What was different about the self-distribution of FEM was that they were developing a relationship with their audience through their video podcasts. They spoke directly to the viewers, grabbing their attention, and allowing for feedback and interaction. People began to respond to their podcasts with their own video responses, making the interactions even more personal. They weren’t speaking to a sea of unidentified web users anymore. They were speaking to individuals–interacting with individuals whom they might not have met if it weren’t for their opening up to the Internet. It is very postmodern, considering this was the very thought behind Susan and Aaron’s original relationship and the concept behind Four Eyed Monsters. Through using the podcasts to talk to the unknown public, they were mirroring their own ideas of Internet human interaction for which they based their own relationship, convincing other people to use this idea of personal communication, and using all of this to promote their movie about the original relationship where this whole idea started. Such an interesting loop.
Are people able to communicate strictly through media? Is it still personal? We’ve talked about this a lot in class, and the conclusion I’ve come to is yes, communication through media can be personal and meaningful. It depends on the way it is used and those interacting with it. Though they might frequent the web more often, people aren’t as dissociated with reality as we think. This is made clear through FEM and their video podcasts/video responses. Rollerbladers prove this as well, considering how much support they show each other on the rollerblading forum site Be-Mag.com.
Four Eyed Monsters became available in stores this past April through Witthoutabox’s new division called the Distribution Lab, which helps self-distributors in releasing their films.
Aaron Crumley is now one of the co-founders for From Here to Awesome. The concept behind FH2A was to create a film festival for independent filmmakers, where they could gather, share, and distribute their work. This was the first year it was in effect. The second part of the project is called DIY Days, in which conferences and discussions will take place on the results of how successful FH2A was and how to improve the festival for upcoming years.
Check out the following websites for more info: