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Why do people not put their work online? (Short films)

Why do people not put their short films online?

**Just to be clear - I'm not talking about those ropey old bits of work people are happy to keep hidden away**

I'm talking about the good stuff and it's bugging me. I've been reviewing some research I've done on indie filmmakers and it seems that at least half of them don't bother to put their short films online, even after they have been successful in decent festivals.

I can understand why filmmakers might want to delay their online release if their short is playing in festivals (though even that is a weak argument these days), but it makes little to no sense to keep the work hidden 2 years later. Why not capitalise on the film's success?

Anyone got any ideas about this?

  • On the whole, if the short film is a good one, it gets picked up by a distributor, who will pay you royalties for views. So it would make no sense having that film online - as a free film - as doing so would eat into distributors' and filmmakers' profits.

    6 months ago
    • Thanks Nic, but one should still be able to find the film online even if it is free or not, that's the issue.

      6 months ago
  • Some festivals will not accept your film at all if it has an online release unfortunately.

    6 months ago
    • Thanks Emma. I'm referring to short films that have already had a 2 year festival run. BTW very few festivals exclude films because they are online (I'm referring specifically to short films) - though the perception amongst filmmakers is that this is a bigger issue than it actually is.

      6 months ago
  • The main reason is as Nic says. If a sales agent wants to makes a deal with a reputable channel such as Canal+ or Arte (for example), which often happens with a short that has enjoyed a successful festival run, it makes no sense that the film already be online for free. Sales opportunities become compromised far more than festival opportunities.

    6 months ago
    • Yes, but I should still be able to find the film online whether or not it's free or behind a paywall.

      6 months ago
    • Hi @Mark Jepson, no you don't. As an example my sales agent asked for a 7 years exclusive licence. That's because they want to be able to negotiate rights globally without checking the rights availability with me first as they often sell shorts in packages, not in a single sale. You are not able to find them searching online because you may not be in one of the countries where the film has actually been released. Moreover, even if you are in a country where the film has been released, that doesn't mean the broadcaster have indexed the page on a search engine.
      So the real answer is that when you licence your short to a sales agent you are not allowed to do anything with it anymore.

      6 months ago
    • @Alessandro Riconda Thanks for that - hadn't considered this.

      6 months ago
  • This depends on who your sales agent is, of course. Some require exclusives lasting several years and others are more open to negotiation. Some filmmakers will insist on putting their film online after a given period, which might be as short as a year, perhaps two, especially if they have a core online audience already.

    6 months ago
  • My film The Gun Man was picked up by Shorts TV for online distribution, so I can't have it on my Vimeo or You Tube Channel. (I can still screen it live and sell DVDs). Yes, it's hidden, but the fee Shorts TV paid me is a partial offset of the cost, and better than nothing at all.

    More important in career terms, is the kudos of being picked up commercially. The Gun Man was my first film to sell, and it puts me into the next division as a producer.

    As Mark says, it's a shame that such films often don't show up in search engines, but three doors are still open, all free or cheap, and all in the distributor's interest, as well as the filmmakers.

    - One, put it on IMDB (pretty much de rigeur anyway).
    - Two, make a trailer, and put that online, with links to the S/VOD channel.
    - Three, get an online review. www.ShortFilmReviews.video will review any film submitted. Yes, there's a small fee, but the film doesn't have to be online at all, let alone on a free site. (If it is, SFR will embed the screener.)

    good luck all!

    - Glyn

    PS - OK, declaration of interest, ShortFilmReviews is my venture.

    6 months ago