What if we were to say that you could watch a film for free, in its entirety, on your phone, while it’s playing live at a cinema in the Big Apple? No, it won’t be in HD, and, yes, it is legal.
Using real-time video streaming app Periscope, that is exactly how writer/director Craig Goodwill made the U.S. theaterical bow of his feature film Patch Town available to a global audience. At precisely 7:20 p.m. on June 5, the credits began to roll in front of a room full of people in New York City at Cinema Village, along with anywhere else in the world for anyone who has the Periscope app on his or her phone.
Goodwill attended the New York event to participate in a Q & A session post-screening, but also used Periscope’s in-app chat room (which overlays the live video footage, with anyone being able to join in the conversation) to answer questions from anyone watching the stream.
“Knowing that part of the magic is the live commentary that happens, we decided to do an AMA (or Ask Me Anything) in tandem with the live stream,” said creative agency’s Rethink creative director Dre Labre, who worked with the director to make the Periscope event happen. (Goodwill also owns a commercial production company on the side, Culture Creatives & Co., and has worked with Labre on a number of other projects.)
The film is distributed by Kino Laber in the U.S. and VSC in Canada, with both companies backing the Periscoped premiere strategy, said Goodwill. While it may seem counter-intuitive to give content away for free, Goodwill said the distributors recognized that one free stream wasn’t going to break the bank, and stood to increase awareness about the film on other platforms.
While the film streamed in its entirety, the hope is that those who maybe caught a few minutes of the live stream would want to purchase the film on iTunes (Patch Town was released day and date on VOD platforms in both Canada and the U.S.)
“What you are hoping is that you are creating awareness of a film that has played festivals around the world, and they are hoping that even a simple step in for five minutes will give you a sense of wanting to watch the whole film,” Goodwill said.
Goodwill also noted the strategy acknowledges consumers are getting content for free on the internet, but aims to subvert that trend in a small way. By generating favor between audiences and filmmakers by making the film free for a limited time via Periscope, the hope is the public will be more willing to support future projects, Goodwill said.
“You are just trying to give a little bit for free, in the idea that people will also want to donate to artists and their endeavors…you’re working hand-in-hand with them,” Goodwill said.
While official numbers from the Periscope live stream weren’t readily available, director Goodwill characterized the event as a “success” from early preliminary data. Patch Town will screen at Cinema Village for another week, and is also currently in the midst of a week-long run at The Royal in Toronto and Dollar Cinema in Montreal.
From Strategy Daily, with files from Julianna Cummins
Image courtesy of the Patch Town trailer.