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.
Now the film is available online to watch for free. Here's the trailer:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/62819168
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?
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:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/114850447
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.
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.