There has been a considerable amount of buzz about the play-turned-feature film Some Girl(s), both because of its unusual narrative structure (long scenes complete with conflict/resolution catharsis), narcissistic (but darkly funny) content regarding the sexes, and its nascent distribution strategy. It also doesn't hurt that the project has Hollywood big-hitters like Adam Brody and Kristen Bell. Now that Some Girl(s) has released exclusively on Vimeo On Demand today, what can we draw from the involvement of successful A-list actors in terms of the future of film distribution and exhibition?
Earlier this year, Vimeo opened up their pay-per-view service, Vimeo On Demand, for Pro users to sell their work, and today we mark another milestone for VOD distribution -- Some Girl(s) is the first feature film to be released globally on Vimeo On Demand on the same day, or “day-and-date", with a theatrical release. And this film has some big names attached to it.
Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, who has helmed projects like Party Girl, as well as episodes of shows like Mad Men, Chuck, Nurse Jackie, and Shameless, the film touts a great cast: Adam Brody, who plays a narcissistic, successful, young writer who travels across the country (a day before his wedding) to make amends with his ex-girlfriends, played by Zoe Kazan, Mía Maestro, Emily Watson, Jennifer Morrison, and Kristen Bell. Check out the trailer below:
Does this mean that celebrity actors and actresses are sensing that this distribution strategy is the wave of the future? What could be the pull on such an unconventional and risky distribution option? Brody commented on how fast the film's few month turnaround was (from production to release) saying, "Normally there's like a two-year incubation period." Bell isn't a stranger to being involved in unorthodox methods of filmmaking, seeing as her film Veronica Mars was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
The film was made for $500,000, and after it premiered at SXSW in March, the filmmakers were offered a distribution deal to release it theatrically (with a wider release if it did well,) but still chose to take a chance on this promising, yet still burgeoning VOD platform. (They still decided to go ahead with a limited theatrical release.)
A film like this, with notable stars and a lot of press, should excite the indie film world, since we're just a bunch of lovable no-name hopefuls, using this method to hopefully find our audiences -- for cheap. Having a star or two could definitely help your project.
But, as we know, virtually anybody can make a film and put it up for people to see, and once the market becomes saturated, your project risks fading into the dark abyss of VOD released indie films. (It brings to mind that Groucho Marx quote, "I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.")
Indie filmmakers will have to go above and beyond to get their films noticed. As it usually goes with the underdog in any scenario, you have to do twice as well to be considered half as good. Indie films have to be well-made, well-performed, and well-told, or else they get nothing -- unlike in Hollywood. And perhaps having a star isn't going to cut it if your movie doesn't stand out in other ways. Von Scherler Mayer explains:
It’s always going to be competitive, especially with technology being cheaper. It means there are more movies being made which means there are more bad movies being made. It’s just going to be better for the audiences because having a film on Vimeo doesn’t necessitate that you have a big star in your film. There’s just too many indie films being made; having a star isn’t enough, it has to be good.
Some Girl(s) is available on Vimeo On Demand now. Watch it here.The cost of streaming is $5, or you can pay $10 to download and own. (Did you ever imagine you could own a movie (legally) on the same day it was released?)
What do you think about Some Girl(s) being released on Vimeo On Demand? What do you think will happen in the future of distribution?