Web Site Offers Pay-Per-Click Fees To Filmmakers
By Lisette Johnson
Ryan Wood’s seven-minute short film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival. Then he posted it on new kind of website that pays filmmakers—professional or amateur—each time viewers click on their work.
What sets this web business, Revver, apart from several other Internet-based video hosting sites is its promise to pay the videomaker 50 percent of a film's ad revenue. Such businesses dangle the prospect of profitability, even riches, in a field where the artists often lose money.
“If this current model blasts off, we won't be beholden to a studio,” said Wood. “Now there are options open of a significant revenue stream to be had.”
Revver, at revver.com, attaches an ad to each video it accepts. The company says that when a viewer clicks on the film, 50 percent of Revver's per-click ad take goes into a PayPal account in the filmmakers' name. Revver has company—YouTube and Google video also have video hosting sites - but most other companies only offer filmmakers one-time fees.
Steven Starr, a former Hollywood agent who started Revver with two partners, says they created Revver so independent video artists could be paid for their work.
“It's about creative control,” he said. “You get to decide who gets to use your work and for what reason. It's about what it's like to be a creator looking for an opportunity to create revenue.”
Starr wouldn't discuss how much the Revver videos earn, though, pronouncing it too early to tell. Nor would Wood disclose how much he earned from two films he's posted on the site, Pitching Mother and Fear of Girls. Even though Fear of Girls, his latest, is one of Revver's most-viewed films, with more than 9,500 hits, Wood hinted that it was far from a substitute for being picked up by a TV or movie company.
“It's my experience that Revver is not a sustainable model for professional filmmakers, but a nice financial supplementary tool for films that fit a certain model,” Wood said.
And since most films on Revver are less than five minutes long, Revver won't be threatening Hollywood anytime soon.
Starr says he hopes that the site will help serious artists like Wood break into professional filmmaking, but that Revver is also happy to serve small-scale artists only interested in Internet work.
Though theoretically anyone can post a film, the company bars anything it deems illegal or obscene, and rates them according to the G, PG and R movie rating system. Screeners review hundreds of films every day.
Skeptics think it sounds a little too easy.
New York University film student Jesse Ash said he would most likely put his work online if he felt the host was the right platform for the project.
“I think it's very important to keep up to date and to show your films,” he said, but he too is skeptical that this kind of distribution can result in financial security for every artist.
Wood called the online market a new artistic renaissance, and likes its cut-out-the-middleman aspects.
“It's hard making good movies and telling good stories, and I think the widespread access helps in fostering learning what works and what doesn't.”