Online video platforms: which option is best for today's independent filmmakers? My humble opinion might surprise you.
Let's face it: not everyone has the technological know-how or financial resources to create his or her own personal web page from which to distribute work. Web pages take serious man-hours to build, and it's no secret that hiring a professional to do the job can be expensive. Besides, even if an independent filmmaker did create his or her own personal web page, would anybody see it? The pessimistic answer would probably sound like, "no, it would be just a drop in the ocean," and an optimistic answer would be, "eh...maybe." The filmmaker would need to put a lot of time and energy into search engine optimization and social networking outlets in order to try to build and engage an audience. But why put in all this effort, when there are user generated content platforms that not only offer a free web page, but already have audiences sitting in front of their computers, practically waiting for you?
Vimeo, DailyMotion, and YouTube are three such platforms that have popped up within the last 6 years, and have since garnished from 65 to 800 million unique visitors monthly. All three are free, have massive communities, and provide independent filmmakers with a great opportunity for online film distribution. Sounds like a fairy-tale, right? Well, sure, and they did to me, too, until I heard about a different online video platform called Fim Annex.
Film Annex, while younger and not as widely used as Vimeo, DailyMotion, and YouTube, has a distinct advantage over other online film distribution platforms: it is designed to make users money. The website believes in not only giving filmmakers a space to distribute their work and engage audiences, but also in sponsoring those using the site. To do this, Film Annex shares fifty percent of the advertising revenue created on a user's page with the user--and if the user is putting out high-quality content and promotes his or her page, the payoff can be quite significant. This month, top-sponsored users are collecting anywhere from $30,000 to $66,000. Can any other free online video platform make you money while distributing your film? Not that I'm aware of, and that makes Film Annex sound like a fairy-tale to me.
Of course, Film Annex does have its weakness: the site only attracts 1.5 million viewers daily versus YouTube's 2 billion, so users currently don't have the opportunity to reach as large an audience as they could elsewhere. However, Film Annex is designed to foster community and nurture users who participate as audience members rather than filmmakers. The site allows each user the opportunity to curate his or her own Web TV channel and write blog posts as well--both of which can attract other viewers to an audience member's Film Annex page, and, in turn, generate that person income. The incentive is there for both filmmakers and viewers alike to come together and create an online video platform utopia, where viewers are abundant and everyone gets paid for participating. Doesn't that sound like a fairy-tale to you?