Underground Film Journal

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A Ride Down IndieRoad

By Mike Everleth ⋅ August 6, 2008

Who out there is finally going to get the general public to embrace the short film?

IndieRoad is a new site that’s going to give it a try. Visitors can purchase, then stream and/or download short films and features. They just launched, so their selection isn’t very extensive yet, but it’s a nice looking site and something worth checking out.

Normally, my first reaction to hearing about new short film website businesses is along the lines of what Chris Albrecht of New Tee Vee had to say regarding the launch of YouTube’s Screening Room endeavor, i.e. a massive dose of skepticism. My second reaction is, “God, I hope these are the guys who get it right.”

Albrecht is a veteran of AtomFilms and I am a veteran of IFILM.com, two sites that couldn’t make it in the short film arena. After I left IFILM, the site was transformed into Spike.com, which promptly dropped their short film category. (Shorts are still on there, but painfully buried and impossible to find.) This is a shame because that was a real treasure trove of great content. Trouble was, it was difficult getting visitors to watch it.

But, IndieRoad has features, too, so maybe it’s my own biases that make me see it as a short film website. Prices are cheap, running between 80 cents for shorts to two bucks for features, so it’s worth it to try things out.

Now, I can’t fully endorse the site because I haven’t bought any of their films yet. From the underground film perspective, I do like the fact that they have “Experimental” and “Horror” categories to choose from. What I wasn’t enamored with was having to leave my credit card info with them just to register. That kind of thing personally makes me a little nervous. If I can offer a public suggestion: I think sites like this could really benefit by using PayPal. Economically, I don’t know if that’s feasible if you’re selling units at only 80 cents a pop, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

I don’t know what kind of quality the films arrive in, nor if they’re DRM-free so that users can watch their purchases on an iPod or similar devices, like one can on B-Side. As for filmmakers, IndieRoad says it offers “a guaranteed percentage of revenue from films, music and advertising sales.” That sounds like a nice offering, but as with dealing with all distributors, check the fine print first before signing up.

The site also proudly boasts the following in their press release:

Unlike many web portals, which post any content provided, INDIEROAD.NET will only use content from talented filmmakers. Material is reviewed and chosen by a panel of experts on the INDIEROAD.NET film screening team.

I hope they have a diverse team on that expert panel, e.g. real horror fans picking films for the “Horror” category. I think if you want a wide audience going to a site like that, the selection had better be spot on. I really wanted to watch one of their “Experimental” offerings so I could judge the site’s tastes for this article, but others will have to judge for themselves.

But, it looks good and I wish ’em the best of luck. Visit IndieRoad for yourself.