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IndieRoad Streams Slamdance

IndieRoad.net, the online streaming/download film site has recently announced that they are going to be streaming the films playing at Slamdance next year on their site. The films will become available online at the same time they unfold onscreen at the fest and continue to be available for two hours after. Viewers can watch them on this page.

Although the main IndieRoad site allows for the downloading of films, the Slamdance films will only be available for streaming. They’ll also cost 9 bucks each, but the nice thing is that IndieRoad will share 1/3 of each film’s profits with the filmmaker. At three bucks a pop, that’s a pretty good deal.

The online viewing of festival films seems to be a growing phenomenon, but this new partnership sounds like the most ambitious so far. Sundance has streamed some of their short film selections the past couple of years and this year Fantastic Fest in Austin screened a selection of both features and shorts over at B-Side. As you can see, both of those initiatives only had a limited selection of films, but both were free for viewers.

So, who’s going to be the first underground film festival to become a part of this trend? And is it a good trend to follow?

Personally, I think it seems like a pretty good idea. How many people get to go to a particular film festival anyway? And how many films, after playing a small festival, go on to get good distribution later, either theatrically or on DVD? If they do, it’s usually either months or years later, when a festival run is long forgotten. Granted, I would have much rather watched Martha Colburn‘s Destiny Manifesto on a big screen, for example, but watching it during the online Sundance initiative may be one of the few times I’ll ever get to see it — and she’s one of my favorite filmmakers.

Of course taking on the project of streaming feature films is a major one. Sundance is its own industry unto itself pretty much and Slamdance and Fantastic Fest had to pair up with sites that already stream films. But I think it’s a worthwhile and natural expansion for an underground film festival to look into, which is why I want to throw this out there since I know a lot of festival folks read this site. And film fans, too, of course. I don’t cover Slamdance on the Underground Film Journal, but I think people who come here might want to check this out once the 2009 Slamdance selections are announced. The fest runs Jan. 15-23, 2009.

But hopefully one of the major, more established fests will take this on someday soon. Festivals like Chicago Underground — especially now that it’s paired up with IFPBoston or Melbourne. Or maybe one of the shorts-only or nearly shorts-only fests like Austin or Antimatter will offer a selection. A festival needs to do it up right, of course, and not just charge in. IndieRoad writes in their press release that their streams will be protected from piracy. There’ll always be pirates to break a code, but I’m sure IndieRoad will do a good job. Pirating struggling filmmakers’ work is the last thing anybody wants or needs.