The Sundance Film Festival officially kicked off today in Utah, where the Sundance Institute announced a new digital partnership with Reelhouse, an online video platform where filmmakers and artists can self-distribute their work.
There are, of course, dozens of platforms where creators can peddle their film and video work, but Reelhouse strictly houses "just stories"—if you’re in search of cat videos, you won’t find them here. Through the new partnership, Reelhouse will work with Sundance’s Artist Services, which provides the Institute’s creators with resources for all steps of the independent filmmaking process, from funding to distribution to marketing.
Artists and creators using Reelhouse get access to a suite of tools to help them self-distribute and monetize their films, such as a pay-to-watch feature that lets creators set their own price. It also has a storefront that’s like a built-in Kickstarter. Creators can sell physical or digital goods through the storefront to continue raising funds from fans for their projects. (A $15 pledge to support a creator’s project could get you an autographed poster, for example.) It’s a more active, engaging way for fans to interact with artists than "likes" or comments, and an easy way for artists to continue raising funds for their projects.
"We want to do for web video—from shorts to full-length features—what the Institute has done for independent film," Reelhouse CEO William Mainguy said in a statement. "Their artists are exactly the kind of content creators who would most benefit from the advantages offered by Reelhouse."
The self-distribution model has become increasingly popular since Louis C.K. famously bypassed ticket distribution services to sell $1 million in tickets in 10 days. Since then, many have followed suit, including fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan and two small-time filmmakers from Winnipeg whose film, Indie Game, went on to become the #1 documentary in the iTunes store.
And as more independent artists embrace the self-distribution model, online video platforms are following. Artist Services includes other platforms such as Vimeo, which has been building out its own set of Creator Services over the past year.