Does Putting Sundance Shorts Online Harm Movie Makers?
from the the-debate dept
Last week, we noted that the majority of shorts being shown at Sundance this week are viewable for free streaming online. We noted that it would be even smarter if they made them downloadable, so that people could watch them offline, on devices or however they wanted to watch them — and also more easily share them with friends. In the comments, people told us we were being unfair because to offer films for download would make it difficult for filmmakers to earn any money. This seems like a myth — and a dangerous one. Recognize, first of all, that these are short films (often under 20 minutes) that are being made by independent filmmakers who often have absolutely no name recognition in the industry. In other words, the likelihood of anyone ever seeing the film, let alone spending money on it is small, at best. However, by promoting the film for free online, the better quality ones could get the attention of many more people, opening up all sorts of opportunities to make a lot more money down the road. Saying that giving away the film for free ends all revenue possibilities is taking the incredibly short-sighted view that ignores the promotional nature of the work. In fact, it would seem that, if you’re short has been accepted to Sundance, it would almost seem that the real way to “limit” your ability to generate revenue would be to not put the film online, as that would lower your recognition and attention. However, in an article that does discuss the “trade-offs” to letting Sundance put these films online, there is one issue that we were unaware of. Offering the films online takes the films out of the running for the Academy Awards. Why? That’s not at all clear, but they seem to have something against “films published online.”