It was only a matter of time before the big fish in the pond began seeing the incredible potential in digital distribution and new media exhibition platforms. It's more than just iTunes or iPads or online streaming. The potential comes in the revival of niche programming, a renaissance in avant garde indie content. Up until now, any indie auteur relied solely on festival exposure to have any chance at reaching a targeted audience; this would often prove to be a nominal gesture for said filmmaker because big wig marketers usually catered to the wrong crowd. We know now, with web 2.0 and filmmaking 2.0, that free online tools help content creators curate their targeted audience.
So when you add aggressive self promotion, free online platforms and sophisticated tools for distribution (tablet devices, small digital cinemas), you have a new wave of moviemaking and thus a resurgence in the cinephile moviegoing community. And for any exhibitor or distributor, a revived community equals positive ticket sales. Therefore, it's no surprise that heavyweight entities are entering the ring of new media digital distribution. Consider this snippet from a recent New York Times article called "Tribeca and Sundance Festivals Plan Big Growth" --
"For years, the business function of festivals was straightforward: create excitement for independent films, and hope that distributors acquire them for release.
But the rise of Web streaming and video-on-demand services freed festivals from their geographic limitations. Suddenly, the likes of Sundance, Tribeca and South by Southwest [SXSW] were experimenting with simultaneous film premieres at their festivals and on Web sites like YouTube or cable on-demand systems.
Now comes a new development — the end of experimentation and the start of full-fledged digital distribution efforts by festival operators."
This new digital frontier brings trouble though. Because movie titans like Sundance will have understood and mastered the marketing edge to these digital distribution channels, new media indie filmmakers will face more of an unexpected uphill battle:
"At the same time, Web streaming and growth of video-on-demand systems in living rooms lowered the bar for distribution. Suddenly all kinds of indie films — not just the ones that showed strong theatrical promise — could be served up to wide audiences. The problem is that as digital offerings grow, these films, which come with little or no marketing budgets, have increasing difficulty breaking through the clutter."
How do we break through "the clutter"? Well, we continue to harness the power of social media and storytelling 2.0 (i.e. concepts like transmedia and also having the life of your film exist outside its format and running time). By continuing to grow and cultivate your audience, avenues like DIY cinemas should become more common. Why aren't we seeing more of these makeshift cinemas become part of the emerging cinephile 2.0 culture? Anyone with access to a projector, a wall and suitable content should take the initiative. Now is the time.
Added, people aren't talking much about "dial tones" these days and that worries me. How could content creators and producers still consider entities like Facebook as elementary tools for recreation? Social is media very real. The valuation for these platforms grows everyday--as illustrated in the video below--and these are very real dollar signs. Dollar signs that don't emerge from ad sales. Dollar signs that instead emerge from engaged audiences.