Years ago, my friends and I would make movies. We’d come up with these wild little concepts, draft our friends into being in them, shoot some scenes, have some laughs… and occasionally we’d even finish them. At the time there didn’t seem like much point in putting a lot of effort into them, because there was nothing to do with them once they were done.
Today that’s no longer a problem. YouTube is the greatest distributor of video content the world has ever seen. According to their own blog, the channel receives 20 new hours of content every minute. If you figure a feature length film runs 2 hours, that’s like having 14400 new features being released each day. Clearly, there’s no longer any problem finding a distribution channel for video, as long as you don’t mind not getting points on a back-end deal. Since it’s all free, YouTube is the only one making any money.
So now there’s an open door for filmmakers (well, videographers) to show off their talents.
There’s also a wealth of advertisers trying to “break out” on YouTube in some meaningful way, and usually failing to do so. The problem is that if a company puts time and energy into creating something to show, they feel they have to justify the effort by making it a full-on advertisement. They also aren’t typically interested in creating content, just promoting – so the end result is poorly executed.
Film students, on the other hand, have passion. Even the ones who make commercials for class work or a show reel aren’t primarily thinking of how to show off a product, they’re in it to entertain. This isn’t necessarily a good thing if you’re making a commercial for television broadcast, but it’s exactly what’s needed if you’re trying to get noticed on line.
Think of the Mentos/Diet Coke videos – the people who made those weren’t working for either company, and weren’t trying to promote either brand. Still, how many Mentos mints do you think people bought because they became aware of them through YouTube?
Film and video students are skilled at the technical realities of shooting footage and editing it, but are also keenly aware of pacing and tone – intangibles that decide whether something is entertaining or not.
I cannot understand why no one has yet approached a film school to get students to produce pieces for them on YouTube. Doing this would give artisans the chance to do their thing, and companies would get gifted new-comers to make interesting on line content for them.
That content would also have a greater chance of becoming “viral” than anything a marketing department might come up with. Film students still have edge, something that gets lost once you’re consumed strictly with marketing and promotion.