For the first time this year, the amount of time Americans spend consuming digital media is set to eclipse the amount of time spent watching TV. Instead of driving to movie theaters, more people are cozying up on their couches with laptops and tablets.
So it only makes sense that entertainment companies are releasing more content specifically for digital platforms.
The social video discovery site Chill.com announced the release of its first feature film Camp Takota on Friday at VidCon, the three-day conference for YouTubers and online video fanatics.
Chill’s proprietary distribution platform is arguably the star here, providing an “inside access” experience. Fans receive regular updates from set, short videos, production diaries, director cuts and on-set interviews. In return, creators have a platform on which to release their work (streaming and via download), and collect analytics and data on fan demographics (updates are opt-in).
The model taps into fan bases to build buzz long before films’ release dates, the opposite of the Hollywood format of spending heavily on marketing in the small window before a film’s release.
The film stars a trio of YouTube stars: Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart. Together, they have more than 2.7 million YouTube subscribers. Camp Takota follows Helbig, who plays a never-do-well working at a summer camp with her two childhood friends. Produced by Michael Goldfine, the executive producer for Kevin Hart’s comedy special Let Me Explain, this film was made on a shoestring budget in only a few months.
The film will stream exclusively on Chill.com, where fans can also order merchandise and download digital extras. While an exact release date has not been set, it will be available for HD download before the winter holiday season. Watch a trailer below:
Chill co-founder and CEO Brian Norgard thinks the push will help fans be the first to know about content they may be interested in. He poses an interesting question: “Wouldn’t it make more sense to build a property as you’re going, so you have millions of engaged fans that you have a relationship with?”
The direct-to-consumer route has worked for the company before, for its comedy specials last year. Right now, the “inside access” content is free as the company decides on pricing, Norgard told Mashable. The film will ultimately be available for purchase online.
But Norgard admits it’s a gamble for Chill. The company recently debuted a direct-to-consumer web series that failed to raise enough funding for production. This time, he’s betting that his stars’ huge audiences will follow them to Camp Takota. It’s a big jump for the YouTube stars but experiments with the future of online video. If this works, why go back to the old model? Norgard wonders. It’s a direct line for creators.
“Our belief and our hope is that people can build really robust communities around films,” Norgard said.
Image: Kenneth Lu
Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/08/02/chill-film/