After the Buzz Is Over

After the Buzz Is Over

Bilge Ebiri

Two years ago, we heard seemingly endless talk about independent filmmakers embracing the Internet. True, shorts still flit about on iFilm [ifilm.com], and novice director Pete Jones has become a mini-celebrity with the Project Greenlight [projectgreenlight.com] reality TV series, the result of his winning an online screenwriting contest. But the novelty has worn off for many underground auteurs using the Web to get their movies made.

“Back in 1998 people thought they could make a fortune online,” says Mark Tapio Kines, who gained exposure at that time for using his Web site to help finance his first feature film, titled Foreign Correspondents [forcor.com]. Kines now has developed a new site for a prospective film, Sharky Baby [sharkybaby.com]. “Today,” he says, “I’m not getting as much e-mail from filmmakers asking me how to use the Internet to get their movie made.”

While the glamour of Web hype may be gone, the Net remains a valuable tool for filmmakers. Sites such as FU: FilmUnderground [filmunderground.com] and Filmmaker.com continue to be hubs for info, and localized services such as Washington State’s Callboard [wigglyworld.org/callboard] and the Detroit Filmmakers Coalition [detroitfilm.org] help find cast and crew in those areas.

“Using the Net wasn’t really about making money but connecting with people who could help,” Kines says. A prime example: To produce the Foreign Correspondents DVD, which he distributes through his site, Kines used the programming services of a group in Michigan that found him online. “I still haven’t met them,” he says, chuckling. “But I’m glad there are people out there who want to help [filmmakers like me].”

Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Yahoo! Internet Life.