Just a quick note. I have many pals who are filmmakers. I sometimes speak on panels for filmmmakers. Mostly these conversations are about getting your film online.
See I have a little bit of a unique perspective on this. I worked for six years programming for an world famous film festival. Being the main person who helped decide what films would screen and working with filmmakers to ensure they got the most out of that screening. Now I work for a corporate online media website that has been around since 1998 and we actually do now and have always paid our filmmakers. What's so unusual you say? Lots of places do and sometimes pay A LOT. Well you know - it's always in the fine print. Things have changed a lot since the late 90's. Some companies promise to pay and the checks never comes. Some places sound too good to be true. What I need to tell my filmmaking pals is - if it sounds too good to be true it likely is. BUT if it sounds almost too good to be true - well then it actually might be ok.
So I am posting this rare post about what I do to help out some folks that I actually know recently got some bad information.
First - in this day and age you should put your film up on a free upload site. I recommend AtomUploads.com but really any of the basic free upload sites work. Put the link in the signature of your email. If you have a website or a blog - use the embed code to put your film in there. You won't get paid but you will have a good marketing tool to get your name out there as a filmmaker and to build your reputation. Curators for short film websites that will pay you look at sites like these to find new talent. Get yourself in the talent pool. You have nothing to lose except the starving artist status of toiling in obscurity.
Second - the good news is with step one you're out there in the world. Those sites usually offer content only in a streaming context so you don't need to worry about anyone stealing or downloading your film without permission. Which brings us to my BIG DEAL point #2. Make sure that if you do put your film on a site that offers downloads to their users that your content is DRM protected. That means the company puts a protection on your film that means even if people can download it, it's protected and cannot be easily stolen and reuploaded under the pirates name. Now some folks think that especially with artsy content you don't need to worry about this (http://www.slate.com/id/2182950/
). My comment to that is - as a filmmaker you put a ton of work into your art. If you are comfortable knowing that it's easily stolen, hacked, re-edited, etc - go for it. But make an informed decision about it. God forbid your artsy film hits the cultural zeitgeist at just the right moment and you're getting paid for the views on a site like AtomFilms (where the films are protected) and some pirate steals the content from another site where you have it for download without protection, the pirate uploads it to YouTube and then no one goes to the site where the views equal cash for you. It could happen. Just make sure you go into these things with your eyes open.
Third: Don't limit yourself. Most online film places like AtomFilms, Jaman, FunnyorDie, etc will offer you a non-exclusive contract for your work if they want to pick it up. If someone wants exclusive only on your film - make sure you get compensated for that and make sure it's for a limited time frame. You don't want to have your film forced into a failing marriage with no way to get out for five years. Read your contracts and again - get informed. This film is your baby. It's awesome. Treat it with care and love.
Fourth: While you're filming make everyone sign the releases. Someone composed music for you? Have them sign a license. Really. You need this stuff if you want to help your film succeed. If you have all of your releases and music licenses and a film company wants your film - they can make it do anything. Mobile phones, iTunes, online, download to own, really the sky is the limit for how the company can promote your film. You want film distributors to work for you. Make it easy for them to promote and spread your film.
Fifth: You are your best brand. Your film is a product under your brand. That sounds gross right? Too much marketing corporate talk. Seriously though - when you make a facebook profile or a livejournal - you're creating an identity online. If people become fans of that identity, that brand, they will want to see your products. They'll become your community and support your work. It's not icky to help people find art that they like. We all do it all of the time, when we send a link or post something we think is supercool. Make your film be the supercool link that everyone shares. You'll be doing good in the world by sharing art and connecting people.
There is more but I stop there.
Good luck and happy filmmaking.
(if you want to share this please credit Cindy Emch or just link back to the original post)