As we approach the end of our fellowship, we will publish a series of blogs that reflect ideas we came up with while discussing our final project for CRI. Although we decided not to pick these ideas for our final project, our hope is the series will spark a conversation about possible grassroots tools that will help independent filmmakers distribute their films in the future. The first for our CRI final idea series, is a website that acts like Pandora for movie trailers. Similar to Pandora, you would type in a movie you like, and the site would instantly create a station that plays trailers that are related to that film. The user could then give the film a thumb up or a thumb down. Based on your responses the site would try to figure out your movie preferences and play other movie trailers that you might be interested in. The website would also provide links to sites like Amazon, Netflix and Fandango making it easy for the user to watch the film of a trailer they liked online, buy a ticket to see it in movie theaters or buy it on DVD.
In our research, a recurring theme is that a lack of data and transparency in distribution has inhibited filmmakers from being able to effectively gather information about their audiences and market their films. This website would help solve that problem by motivating people to opt-in through an interactive and engaging interface while also collecting important data about their movie preferences. Filmmakers and distributors could then use the data to target their audiences and distribute their films without starting from scratch or spending millions on a publicity campaign for their film.
B-Side is a distribution company we studied early in our research that adopted a similar strategy by creating a website that festival goers could use to organize their schedule and review films. They were able to then use the contact information and data from their website to set up a record 1600 screenings of the documentary Super High Me on 4/20 which later lead to the film selling 85,000 DVD's and grossing 3.4 million dollars in the first year. To date, the film is the second most watched titled on NetFlix Instant.
Furthermore, a Pandora for movie trailers website could establish partnerships with movie theaters, art houses and online distribution sites like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu by offering free publicity for online and offline distributors. This could potentially raise awareness for independent films and older movies that are often overlooked or forgotten about.
We look forward to hearing what you think about our first CRI final idea in the comment section below. In Part 2 of our CRI Final Project Idea Series we will raise the possibility of a Grassroots Film Distribution Collective.