NY Times article by Miguel Helft, published on January 20, 2010 during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, online content aggregator Youtube announced a partnership with some of America's most independent of filmmakers. In what might be a major development (heralding a new age in digital distribution?), a few titles premiering at the Sundance festival were also made available for digital rental during Sundance via YouTube
Since only a small fraction of the films submitted to Sundance in the last few years have ever found meaningful theatrical distribution (maybe 1 out of 1,000), any outlet for independent filmmakers that offers a large audience and a chance to immediately build on the Sundance buzz seems like a promising development.
But how will the filmmakers make money on Youtube? And how will the audience find indie films in Youtube's sea of user-generated short-form content? Can serious feature length work survive amidst the silly kittens, odd music videos, and erzatz parodies of pop culture on YouTube? Will customers - used to getting content for free on YouTube - be willing to pay for "rentals?"