Scott Kirsner at CinemaTech posted a sort of recap from his presentation at the Apple Store in San Francisco on Tuesday. Actually he's placed his slide presentation on the net (seen above courtesy Slideshare), which has some very good information about internet video and those who have made money distributing it. Some of the facts that jumped out at me were:
No one has made any money from YouTube.
Several have made some cash using Revver and MetaCafe.
People seem to prefer short videos (10 minutes or less).
Indies with grass-roots and inventive marketing do the best.
After digesting this information coupled with the stuff I learned about Podiobooks, this got me thinking. How do I use these parameters to successfully release a feature on the web? How about finishing the entire movie, then serializing the release like Podiobooks does with audiobooks? Instead of chapters, you have 5-10 minute epidsodes that come out once per week. At the same time you are doing this, you offer the DVD for sale, so fans can snag the whole kit and caboodle.
This way, you can stretch your free release out over time, creating buzz over a long period instead of just one date. It's almost exactly what TV networks do with series television--only your DVD will be available before and during your "season" instead of only after it.
This causes a re-think of how you construct your story. Since I want to produce many stand-alone installments of a bigger movie, a cliffhanger format would be in order. I want folks to always return to see what happens next (or to buy the DVD if they don't want to wait), so why not keep them hanging at the end of each episode? As a result, I'll have to write my script in a way that has a cliffhanging event every 5-10 pages, so I can make little shorts that all fit together in the final product.
This seems very viable, and I'm going to do it. It may take awhile (I'm still formulating script ideas), but could really work. I just have to follow some valuable advice and start building my audience right now. Are you with me?