I haven’t had a chance to watch more than the first few minutes of this film, but Waterborne has been generally well-reviewed… and you can watch it for free either below or directly on Google’s site through January 15, 2006.
Rather than spoil even part of the plot, I’ll instead invite you to begin watching it now without preconceptions, with a note that it’s a serious film focusing on characters rather than explosive action.
Beyond this particular film, what fascinates and excites me about Google’s video offering—despite generally wide critical raspberries—is that it can serve as a fabulous equalizer. The key problems with getting great independent and foreign films seen by larger audiences aren’t just associated with marketing and word of mouth, but rather distribution. Just as Google AdWords (and, before it, GoTo.com) presented a revolutionary way for Mom’n’Pop outfits to reasonably compete with BigCos, Google Video will provide market access to low(er) budget films… in this case, literally FREE distribution. And then when some random Joe in Manhattan gets genuinely excited about a particular quality (or just frickin’ hilarious :D) production, he can indirectly cause that film to gain enormous market awareness by simply posting about it on his LiveJournal and linking to the Google Video, causing a chain reaction (remember the numa numa video?:-) And hey, can anyone even find the original anymore?! But I digress!)
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But how will this actually make money for the film producers?
For instance, while Waterborne is free to stream and watch online for a week, it’s then $4 to download. With this film, thanks to the openness of its producers, purchasers will actually OWN their copy and have the practical and legal options of burning it to DVD, watching it on their iPod, etc. This can be a win-win situation; whereas early adopters and those with more time than money can make sure to watch it for free, others will help fund the film by purchasing unfettered downloads. Alas, not all content producers are so wise and thoughtful towards consumers; the bulk of groups charging for video on Google Video now are placing some DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions on their files, so they’ll self-destruct after 24 hours or be uncopyable to a portable video player, etc. Hopefully they’ll eventually see the light, however.
– Related sales
T-shirts. Actual DVDs in jewelboxes. Sequels. Toys or other similar merchandise. Soundtracks via Napster or Magnatune or Amazon.com.
– Long-term career growth
Unknown artists can perhaps become bigger household names, garnering big studio money later on.
Other ideas? Your thoughts…?
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Hat tip to Inside Google for reporting this and other interesting Google video tidbits.