Embrace diversity, put your film on mobile phones

This is a touchy subject. Well, I guess the whole idea of watching a film on anything but a large screen inside a dark theater is touchy for some. I know there are those (usually filmmakers) who believe that is an abomination to watch a film on such a tiny screen. Depending on the film you definitely lose something by watching it on a very small screen but I assure you, as a pure consumer (i.e. one who can barely take a good still picture much less film anything, but likes to watch films) I only care about accessing the content when I want to. I don’t care how big or small the screen is (within reason of course). Maybe filmmakers should consider the fact that their stories will now be experienced on screens of all sizes and take that into consideration during their storytelling?

The fact that CNET has a category called Best Video Phones should say a lot in case it doesn’t though, think of all the people you will be excluding by resisting making your content available on these devices:

  1. People who are scared of the dark
  2. People who don’t like crowds
  3. People who don’t want to cough up whatever it costs to see a movie in a theater nowadays
  4. People who don’t feel like driving to a theater
  5. People who travel a lot
  6. People who don’t want to endure missing key parts of the movie because folks are yelling at the screen. You know who you are screen yellers.
  7. People who like to rewind or pause because they missed a key part of the movie because folks were yelling at the screen.
  8. The nearly 5 Billion people around the world who have cell phones.

and we all know exclusion is not nice. So you have three options:

1. Put your film on a video sharing site that is supported by mobile phones

2. Get your film listed in iTunes

3. Make a mobile app Have a mobile app made for your film

Video sharing sites

Here is an exhaustive comparison of video sharing sites many of which have no limit on the length of the content. Depending on the length, consider using a service like TubeMogul to syndicate your film across a number of sites.

Listing your film in iTunes

You can use an aggregator since iTunes isn’t really into independent filmmakers submitting their films, the way indie musicians can. Distribber and Indieflix are two aggregators that can help you there, best of all you get to keep all of your rights using them. Also, if you have a distributor like New Video who has a relationship with iTunes they may get you in as well. Filmmaker Angelo Bell talks in detail about it here.

Have a mobile app made for your film

By mobile app I mean application that can run on a mobile phone, like Pandora or Yelp. I’d say target iPhones and Android phones for your film app as they are the most popular phones used for entertainment (in the U.S. anyway). You can do this if you don’t want to wait for Apple’s approval process for films or if your film got rejected. Actually go ahead and do it regardless, the more ways your film can be seen, the better. Plus you can take advantage of all the other functions on the phone to make for a better experience and engage your audience. You can’t do that with iTunes. MarsApp and Stonehenge will make iPhone apps out of your films and for Android… use a service like Elance to hire someone. I’ll have to save the fact that I saw not a single film app in the Android marketplace for a separate rant because that’s not very inclusive. Here’s a great table from the folks over at GigaOm breaking down the different handset platforms.

P.S. You could also create a mobile site for your film. Depending on the format you choose for the video you may have to cough up some change though.