Ryan Wood's seven-minute short film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival. Then he posted it on a new kind of Web site 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 (www.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 — not the Philadelphia restaurateur — a former Hollywood agent who started Revver with two partners, says they created the site so that independent video artists would 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."
Wood even sees a potential challenge to current Hollywood filmmaking. "There's a war going on between the north and the south, between Silicon Valley and Hollywood," he said.
"We can't make movies bigger than Hollywood, but we can sure as heck make them fresher."
Starr wouldn't discuss how much the Revver videos earn, 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.
Big or Small, Welcomes All
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.
Revver launched in November 2005, and has unveiled a few more bells and whistles since last May.
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."