Here's part II of Steve Janas' insights on the cost and challenges of getting a feature film produced. In case you missed it check out part I of Steve's post. You can also check out Steve's blog Life of a Preditor for more great info.
There is a bright side to the challenge of getting your film shown on the big screen. This can be formulated into the following question: "Why, exactly, do you need to show your independent film in theaters?" That's certainly not the way most people these days experience visual "content" (to use the parlance of the contemporary entertainment industry).
Consider this statistic: in December, 2010, Internet users watched a record 14.3 billion online videos. That's Billion, with a "b." In just one month. Upload your film, and it has a potential audience that numbers in the hundreds of millions. And how does one get one's video onto the Internet? Find a web-video hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo, and upload it. That simple.
Fine. So making independent films (and distributing them) is easier now than ever before. The problem is: how do you make a living at it? Especially if you're giving the content away for free on YouTube?
Well, I did say not to count on making a living at it. But, you know, there's even a hopeful new light shining on this bleak reality. Namely, people have figured out new ways to make money off of internet videos.
The business models are familiar from television: you make money either by selling advertising or allowing the end user to pay a fee and download the product. For the latter, there have been a number of start-up businesses that are amassing a library of content which subscribers will have access to. For example, 2-Way TV has developed an app that will allow makers of short, independent films to offer them for sale on Apple's iPad.
The advertiser-supported model is much more common. YouTube, for example, has recently offered to "monetize" certain videos that garner a large number of hits. In other words, they sell advertising on the video, and split a portion of the revenue with the video's owner.
To be sure, we're talking pennies for most videos. However, there are many instances of entrepreneurial individuals making a killing this way, and more are cropping up each day. To cite an example: Los Angeles-based Internet celebrity Marina Orlova's "Hot For Words" YouTube channel has registered almost 420 million hits since it launched. Through monetization, that has provided Marina with a reputed monthly income of $30,000.
In short, the movie business - the entertainment industry in general, in fact - is going through a major transition. As with all such times, there are enormous opportunities for those with vision and the willingness to work hard to see that vision through.
Now the challenge is to make that person you.