YouTube is launching a very competitive outlet for indie shorts:
Struggling filmmakers already use YouTube to kick-start viral marketing campaigns. The new feature, which debuts Wednesday, gives them an easy-to-find home — and makes them partners in drawing new ad revenue.
“Hopefully as they see thousands of people watching their films, it’s going to be a very eye-opening experience,” said Sara Pollack, YouTube’s film and animation manager.
The screening room will highlight four new films a week, picked by a YouTube editorial panel.
Submissions are welcomed. The panel also will scour film festivals and work with partners such as the Sundance Channel to identify prospects.
Filmmakers can choose to have a “Buy Now” button attached to their work for sales of DVDs or digital copies. They will also collect a majority share of ad revenue generated from views of their work.
YouTube said people whose clips regularly attract a million viewers can make several thousand dollars a month.
The bigger prize can be exposure.
When YouTube featured the nine-minute short “Spider” by Nash Edgerton in February, it became the fifth-best selling short on iTunes, Pollack said.
The creators of the full-length feature “Four Eyed Monsters,” Susan Buice and Arin Crumley, got their break when more than a million YouTube views helped land them a TV and DVD distribution deal, she said.
“They ended up doing really, really well, ironically by putting their film online for free,” Pollack said.