Film

If Sundance had a long tail

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

When it comes to indie films, there’s Sundance, and then there’s channel101.

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Billing itself as "The Unavoidable Future of Entertainment," channel101 is an example of what happens when the long tail meets a disruptive business model.  Given that "good enough" video can be created these days for a few thousand bucks, anyone can make a decent film, post it to the web, and then watch as real humans vote to move it up the long tail, or slide it off the right side into oblivion.  It’s a glorious way to run quick experiments which provide real feedback as to what works and what doesn’t.  Think of it as a on-the-market sandbox for prototyping new approaches to storytelling.  As the 101 site says:

Channel 101 is where the rubber meets the road. The deadlines are
unreasonable, the time limit is impossible, the pay is non existent and
the judgment is blunt… Channel 101 is where you learn three
things: How to fail, how to succeed, and finally, how there is no
difference between the two.

As any Sundance veteran knows, there’s some gold in them there hills.  A clear winner is Yacht Rock, which weaves together Van Halen and Michael Jackson in ways you never imagined (or wanted to imagine).  Could the creators of Yacht Rock have made their way through a more traditional path to market as exemplified by Sundance?  Perhaps.  But as I listen to the amazing array of speakers next month in Monterey, I’ll keep asking myself "Where could we go,and what would we come up with, if we channel101-ed this thing?"