Net gives audience to more filmmakers
September 17, 1999
(CNN) -- Most of us don't think of the Internet as a place to watch movies, but a lot of people are logging on to do just that.
Although the technology is less than perfect, some independent filmmakers are taking advantage of the Web to market and show their films to a global audience.
The look of silent films -- jerky and grainy -- is a lot like movies on the Internet today.
But despite choppy frame rates and tiny viewing windows, more and more filmmakers are using the Internet to publicize and show their movies.
And viewers are logging on.
Dfilm.com founder Bart Cheever says his site gets about 2 million hits a month.
"We put up a new film each week and each film is downloaded 10,000 times, which is small in comparison to our overall site," says Cheever.
"But if you compare that with the experience of an independent film director, and they have to schlep the film to all these film festivals all over the world, having 10,000 people look at your film is not an insignificant number."
This summer, "The Blair Witch Project" built a core following on the Net, becoming a box office bonanza.
Producers of the upcoming movie, "The Quantum Project," recently announced it will be the first feature film made for initial release over the Internet next spring.
And now, an independent filmmaker named Rob Nilsson is using the Web to market his upcoming film, "Scheme," in a way that might horrify some directors.
He is showing the one thing filmmakers normally don't want anyone to see -- the mistakes.
After a day of shooting on miniature Digital Video cameras, the daily rushes -- the scenes as they were shot -- are posted on the Internet.
Web-surfing film buffs log on to ifilm.net and fire back comments.
"Because he's on the Internet and available 24/7, those people who are interested in this sort of content can come find him whenever they want," said ifilm.net founder Rodger Raderman.
"And by putting the dailies up online, we're hoping that an actual audience for the film gets built up around the film as its being made, sort of a preformed community that will then buy tickets."
Once the last edits are made, the final product will be shown online and on a handful of big screens around the world via portable digital projectors.
Nilsson says one major studio that never responded to his finished films has already contacted him after seeing his work on the Web.
"I mean, Miramax is not in the habit of calling me for my feature films, as many as I've made," Nilsson said.
The total cost of "Scheme" was about $150,000.
So will the Internet turn anyone with a digital camera into a filmmaker?
Raderman says no, but it's a boon for those who take the leap to make a movie.
"It will let every filmmaker become a filmmaker with an audience," he said.
Right now, cable and telephone companies want to expand that audience by wiring more homes with high-speed Internet connections, making the flow of digital data to computers almost instantaneous.
Ultimately, industry watchers predict we won't just be able to see independent short films and trailers online, but full-length features.
CNN Correspondent Ann Kellan contributed to this report.
Short films: Now showing on a monitor near you
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