December 18, 2014

Here's Why Director Josh Beck Released His First Film 'EVER' Online for Free

Releasing your film online can be a pain -- many films get stuck in post-production or never get released. Well, when is it time to tear off the band-aid and put it out into the world? Director Josh Beck talks about releasing his first film EVER for free online.

[Disclaimer: I am the DP on this film.]

I met Josh Beck at a party when I first moved to LA in 2011. Two years later we made a film together. This is how the world works. I always admire it when someone takes it upon themselves to make their first film, as it's a powerful experience, it's not for the weak of heart, and as scary as it is to jump into the dark waters -- it's equally exciting. This is why I followed Josh Beck into EVER -- a story about a girl coping with depression and finding new light in her life. The production was scrappy -- a $12,000 movie, a crew of 3 -- and together we sailed on the filmmaking ocean with varying degrees of failure and brilliance.

Micah Van Hove and Josh Beck on the set of EVER (2014)

Now the film is available online to watch for free. Here's the trailer:

Watch the whole film here.

With all the writing I've been doing about distribution, it always strikes me as interesting to see the widely divergent viewpoints on how to release. It's a part of the process that a lot of first-time filmmakers don't plan for. Josh Beck shares what he's learned:

When I first set out to make a feature, I had very optimistic hopes for the future success of the film. I wanted my self-financed, very personal little project called EVER to go out and take the festival circuit by storm, and then go on to play in theaters and DVD players for audiences throughout the world. I think it's healthy for filmmakers to be ambitious, but what happens if it doesn't pan out the way you had planned?

Micah Van Hove and Josh Beck on the set of EVER (2014)

I was sitting on a completed film that I couldn't even self-release on VOD platforms because I had a 20-song soundtrack with music licenses I couldn't afford.

I decided the solution to my problem was to release my movie for free. Since I think it's generally rude to ask bands for gratis-use if you plan to make a profit on your film, I started emailing all the artists, management companies, and record labels who owned the master and sync licenses, and was actually able to get approval for many great songs since I wasn't charging for my release.

Meet the cast & crew:

 One really cool thing that happened during this long and exhaustive process was that many of the replacement songs ended up working even better for my film in the end.

Wendy McColm on the set of EVER (2014)

For me, the major takeaway of Josh's experience has been an incredible lesson in perseverance; there's always a way. Just because you're not under ideal conditions it doesn't mean that experience won't be good for you or good for your film.

Of course, I do believe in filmmakers making money for the work they do, but I also commend Josh for releasing in this way -- and he's not the only one. Online destinations like NoBudge and experimental production companies like Interesting Productions are actively going that route in the interest of creative community and showing a dedication to very independent movies. 

I'd be remiss to remind you that if you liked the film, consider donating via Paypal or the Vimeo Tip Jar. All proceeds go directly towards the filmmaker and the bands who generously offered their music.     

Your Comment

22 Comments

P.S. Happy Birthday Josh.

December 18, 2014 at 4:19AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

This is not the first free film. You are wrong bro, I watched following film long ago...here is the youtube link...and I think this was the first film to be released as free...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILx08_Jv52o

December 18, 2014 at 10:31AM

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No one said it was the first film to be released online for free. The guy's film is called "Ever" and it happened to be his first film and he released it for free.

December 18, 2014 at 10:49AM

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To paraphrase Dana Shapiro a bit, temp tracks are like strippers - never fall in love because they'll never love you back. And even if they do, you can't afford them.

December 18, 2014 at 11:21AM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
492

To paraphrase Dana Shapiro a bit, temp tracks are like strippers - never fall in love because they'll never love you back. And even if they do, you can't afford them.

December 18, 2014 at 11:21AM, Edited December 18, 11:21AM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
492

I've released my movie for free online after theater play. It's here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6U448Ua5qk

I was able to leave the soundtrack untouched thanks to support from all the musicians. From my experience musician are happy to be featured even for free, if you are upfront with them. It also helps if you create a music video for their song with scenes from movie, like I did for one of them here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzmHB9TF7uw

Many ppl worked on the movie for free or at the reduced rate. Lately some of them got the film recommended by their friends or even strangers at a party, where the people didn't know they worked on it. That makes me feel fuzzy and warm inside :)

It's out on YT for a year with almost 700,000 views, which is not too shabby either :)

December 18, 2014 at 11:40AM, Edited December 18, 11:40AM

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Poly Yannick
Director
74

As someone who released his short film online, I have to warn fellow filmmakers that many film festivals will not accept your film if it's available for public. Consider this when you make your decision. Also, putting your film online for free will not automatically generate more views nor will it make people more interested in seeing it. In the end, it will always be the hype you or others manage to create around your film.

December 18, 2014 at 1:25PM

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In regard of the music, there are a lot of composers out there willing to make music for you if your script is interesting enough. I managed to avoid the need of licensing by making the music myself. For those interested, you can watch the film here: https://vimeo.com/72594873

December 18, 2014 at 1:28PM

11
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For those interested, you can watch the film here: https://vimeo.com/106758812

December 18, 2014 at 1:29PM

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I think that this film needs to be better color corrected and graded

December 18, 2014 at 3:28PM, Edited December 18, 3:28PM

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'washed-out blacks' is the new 'crushed blacks', get with the times, man.

December 18, 2014 at 4:54PM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
492

I ended up doing the grade myself due to low funds, and I was actually going for a muted tone. The look of the film has been very polarizing, and oftentimes it's the main compliment I receive. I get where you're coming from though :)

December 18, 2014 at 5:51PM, Edited December 18, 5:51PM

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Josh Beck
Writer / Director / Producer
81

I ended up doing the color myself due to low funds, and I was going for a more muted grade. The look of the film has been very polarizing, but it's often the main compliment I receive. I get where you're coming from though :)

December 18, 2014 at 5:53PM, Edited December 18, 5:53PM

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Josh Beck
Writer / Director / Producer
81

Hi Josh,

I watched it this morning and loved it. Thought it looked fantastic - some interiors were a little murky but to be honest it never distracted me from the story, which is the most important thing. I thought the performances were strong, especially your lead who felt real - when I saw the manual typewriter and old-style LP player I thought she was going to be an off-the-peg kook, but actually she was a really convincing character and the subtle arc she goes through felt completely genuine.

If I had one small criticism re: the story it would be the scene with her father near the end. It felt like an unnecessary story beat, plus having set up that Emily was on her way over it was almost a distraction that he turned up instead. But that's just a personal thing. I think all your other story choices were great, and I think the decision to leave their relationship ambiguous was brave and honest to the story.

I'd love to know more about the production - what kind of timescale you worked to, best/worst days, a little bit of geeky stuff about how much lighting you used, camera etc.

Anyway, I genuinely hope you get a tonne of attention off the back of this because you definitely deserve it.

J.

December 19, 2014 at 10:23AM

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Jon Mills
Filmmaker
783

I was lucky enough to see EVER at the Newport Beach Film Festival earlier this year, and I just wanted to say you guys made a really beautiful film. I can't wait to see what your next project is going to be.

December 19, 2014 at 3:00AM

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Devin Pickering
Cinematographer/Editor/Composer
211

More power to him for following through on his project, but I take issue with artists stifling their own creativity by worrying about "stepping on people's toes". Why go through the effort and expense of these undertakings if you are going to self-edit to the point of limiting your own free expression? I don't understand this existential fear of unintentionally offending people.

December 19, 2014 at 11:20AM

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Marc B
Shooter & Editor
460

Indie tween with a queer twist and a cherry on top? Is this really the film you wanted to make? Please indie filmmakers stop clinging to this overdone crumbling aesthetic. Your trailer looks like 500 other films. Try to be an individual with an individual voice, I would not watch your film, doesn't matter that's its free, marketing only matters when you make something tons of people probably want to see. Best of luck in your future work.

December 19, 2014 at 4:14PM

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Rita
88

I'm sorry but this is pretty ignorant and just a troll type of comment to make. You should actually watch the film a few times. Actually look at it before you make such a clearly uninformed statement. It was beautifully made. I'd like to see something you have made that's better.

December 20, 2014 at 1:38PM

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Devin Pickering
Cinematographer/Editor/Composer
211

Good read, I've actually been thinking about starting a non-profit film company, so thanks for the links!

December 19, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited December 19, 7:50PM

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Anthony Vescio
Director/Editor
361

Ok, is no one gonna adress the elephant in the room?
The DP is named Javier Bardem and we are just gonna go ahead whitout even mentioning it? I think not! :)

December 20, 2014 at 10:02AM, Edited December 20, 10:02AM

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Johan Salberg
Actor, Writer, Director, Editor
290

Making a film is one thing, finishing it and getting it out to the world is an entirely different animal. My many hats are off to Josh Beck, his cast & crew, for following through on their artistic aims. Sure, nobody has to love what you make and neither do they have to hate it, but that's not the point really. The ratio of wannabes to actual filmMAKERS is profoundly lopsided, and being able to get past not only the literal gatekeepers but the ones that live in our heads too is a feat worth admiring!

As artists and creative technicians the only direction is upward from our first steps, no one runs a marathon without the pain and struggle of learning to walk first. Finishing a film, regardless of it's merit, is a pretty respectable stride in my book.

December 23, 2014 at 12:37PM, Edited December 23, 12:37PM

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Anthony Haden Salerno
Writer/Director/Editor
137

Question:

Why didn't you light the rooftop scene where Ever and the other girl first meet? It's so dark and flat. Would like to hear your thoughts.

April 3, 2015 at 10:25PM

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Tyran Nosaur
DP/Director - lots to learn
84