ReelConnect is an Indie film makers dream. In some ways it is a cross between YouTube and iMDB. The internet is a fascinating place, new sites pop up all the time. The problem is, how do you find them? Well Matt found me. I wrote a fairly acerbic piece about the movie industry, $200 mil here, $200 mil there, no one cares! The Big studios keep putting out the same old rubbish, price does not matter. I have a different approach to movies, I get invited to press only showings of Box Office stuff, and I say no. My favorite has always been the Indie movie, small budget, sometimes no budget, but there is always love. Love of the subject, love of the medium, love of the story. This is exactly what you do not find in the Box Office hits. I have talked to film makers that sold their car and Saxophone to finance part of the film, “it was the only things worth money” Jason Kohn (Manda Bala) explained. “It took 6 years”, Sharon Lane tells us about Canvas. In fact every Indie director, producer, even screen writer has a story.

Do me a favor, skip the megaplex for an evening and try an Indie!

The Indie world is not an easy one for the film maker. But it is one I love. I was delighted to catch up with Matthew Wood the mastermind behind ReelConnect, and pick his brains a little. Matt is helping bring the Indie world to the mainstream.

Can you tell us a little about yourself Matt?

My name’s Matthew Wood, I’m 27 and have worked in film and the web for many years now.  I started out working on short films and later moved into video game cinematics.  I was on the production team for the X-Box game “Advent Rising.”  After that I taught at Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University) and have worked as a project manager for different web design and programming companies since.

Where did the idea for ReelConnect come from?

When I was teaching a couple of marketing and pre-production classes at UVSC and the more I talked to filmmakers the more I realized that they had no idea what to do to get their name out aside from just submitting their films to festivals.  I felt there needed to be a place online for filmmakers to be able to showcase their work and share and collaborate.  There are plenty of great forums out there like IndieWire.com or CreativeCow.net.  But there was no real place dedicated to allowing the filmmakers to really show what they’ve worked on and give examples of what they’re talking about when they give advice or comments to other filmmakers.  That’s where ReelConnect was born.

ReelConnect.com is a place where filmmakers of every kind can create a profile and then upload their films.  Anyone who’s worked on that film can have their profiles attached to it.  This way everyone that’s worked on it can showcase their work and use our film network to learn from and collaborate with other filmmakers on future projects.  Meanwhile we viewers benefit from being able to watch high-quality films and easily be able to find similar films to those they like by seeing the other work of those were in the cast and crew.

How long has ReelConnect been around?

The idea for Reel Connect started of as just a small showcase site last summer (2007) and I got Kenneth Foisy, my programmer, on board at the end of that year.  We’ve hustled and launched on January 7, 2007 with 6 films.  We now have over 3 dozen quality films in about a month’s time.  Since we launched we’ve had some key partnerships with CampusStudios.com as well as the FourSite and LDS Film Festivals.

Starting up a website is the easy bit, some people claim, ‘Build it and they will come’, I am not so sure (based on personal experience) that that is a true statement. You need a clear plan, and a lot of hard work to get noticed. What is your plan, and your experiences to date?

We’ve had a lot of good experiences of asking people what they would like to see or just outright asking for a review.  We’re building the site up based off of the input we get back and are trying to really satisfy the appetites of both the filmmakers putting their work and their profiles up as well as the film viewers that want a fluid integrated experience when they watch our films.

For filmmakers we are trying to make a site that has a large viewing area to show their work well.  We are also trying to make it so that all cast and crew that worked on a film will benefit from the exposure not just one director or producer.  The hair and makeup team as well as the script supervisor and key grip, for example, will be able to have their spotlight as well, so to speak.  Word of mouth and a strong presence at film festivals and film schools will help us draw attention from them.

For film viewers, it’s tougher.  There’s so many sites out there that are vying for attention.  I guess that it’s our strong emphasis on true effort and narrative film that will really win them over.  We’re also constantly adding films as well as features to make the experience so unique. We have some tremendous films on our site right now.  Those films and our large viewing area will help us get viewers and keep them.

Our experience has been nothing but positive lately, we’re personally funded so we haven’t been able to draw attention with contests or publicity stunts, but our quality films and viewing are have helped us steadily gain viewers every day.  Online video is a tough industry to break into but the positive reviews that we got from Mashable.com as well as KillerStartups.com has helped us get the word out.  Sorry, that was way too long of an answer.

Are you planning on adding reviews and interviews to the site? What other site features do you have planned?

We are going to be adding a review area to each of the films so the viewers will be able to review the site.  We actually think that will be a cool thing for “reviewers-to-be” looking to hone their craft.  We will be doing interviews and other features once we have the site more solid and enjoyable.

We do have a lot of features coming though.  We will have collaboration tools available: common workspace, file downloads, production searches, an “Ask the Filmmaker” part of each movie profile.  We’re currently looking into adding online budgeting and scheduling software.  We’re constantly looking on how to recommend films so viewers will have a way to keep watching non-stop if they want to.

Right now the connections are made manually but soon we will be able to give that power to the filmmakers as well as some deep marketing tools to get their films the exposure they deserve.  One of the cooler things we’re working on is film analytics, where people will be able to track their films views and traffic like how we website guys track our views and traffic.

As time goes on we’re looking at how filmmakers want to benefit monetarily from the site.  Right now the films being uploaded are films the filmmaker no longer wants to monetize.  We’re investigating what the best way to make the site help those filmmakers that want to make money off of their films.  Whether it’s ad-sharing (which didn’t really help Revver all that much) or pay-per-view or pay-per-download, we’re not sure.  We actually could just stay as we are and still be very profitable but we really want to become an online portal for independent films of all kinds.

Where are you finding the movies to stream?

We’re finding them through the network effect.  Filmmakers are a very interconnected bunch.  One person puts their film up and the others that they’ve worked with are anxious to put theirs up as well.  We see a lot of interconnectivity between these films already.  I personally knew the filmmakers that put up the first films but now most if not all of the submissions are two or three times removed from myself.  We haven’t seen many films come in from out of the blue, we’re hoping once word gets out that that will change.  Right now it’s a very word of mouth process.  I think it helps a lot that I’ve been in the same boat as a lot of these independent filmmakers.

Do you feel in competition with sites like iMDB and YouTube, or is ReelConnect different?

Yes and no.  There’s a place for both of those sites and always will be.  We’re hoping to become a source of entertainment for people looking for movies from the up-and-coming.  We also hope to become a source for people to trust in quality, narrative films and to see the work of filmmakers and who they are connected with. IMDB and YouTube are so broad in their approaches they can’t really refine themselves to be a true network that involves the individuals and connects them with each other.  It’s not entirely evident now but the collaboration tools that we will be releasing will really help these filmmakers to work with each other on future projects.

What else should we know about ReelConnect?

I just want to give some examples of the types of films that we have up.  For animated films there is the wonderful allegory Gestures. In comedy there is the “less offensive than it sounds” I’m Not Gay and my personal favorite #646 at http://reelconnect.com/reel.php?ReelID=23 . And in music videos we have Hands of Hatred at http://reelconnect.com/reel.php?ReelID=92 .

Any filmmakers reading this we would love to hear from you about what you would like to see in a site like ours.  If you have films you want to get exposure for, please come and create profile for yourself and upload them onto ReelConnect.com or send us an e-mail at company@reelconnect.com.  Thanks so much for your time and come give us a try at ReelConnect.com

Thanks for spending some time with us, and I am sure that many of the readers will be checking out reelconnect.com

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

Be Sociable, Share!