Google Changing the Equation for Independent Filmmakers?

Be an indie film polygamist, embracing every opportunity to make your film accessible

It sucks that it’s going to be called Google TV, but the search company’s announcement that its Android mobile phone platform has now been adapted for use in televisions may be the single most important development for independent filmmakers since the birth of John Cassavetes.


Full internet access, including streaming, can already be enjoyed on nearly every TV set via HDMI. But having such access integrated into the set is a game-changer of mind-blowing proportions. Especially for independent filmmakers.

My only hesitation about Google TV for the moment is that I haven’t yet read that it will allow us to surf the entire internet vs. just paddle around inside a walled garden.

Whichever the case, the full deal is only moments away and I’m feeling kinda giddy – and so should you.

As I wrote earlier this week, the FCC recently gave Hollywood permission to take control of our cable boxes in order to "securely" offer VOD day-and-date with theatrical. It’s the studios’ tentative first move in broadening access to its newly released titles across multiple platforms and narrowing the exclusive first-run window.

Hollywood knows these are critical steps to take in order to remain relevant. They know they must cater to the changing requirements of 21st-century consumers.

These developments represent a dramatic wakeup call for the independent filmmakers who would be best served by fully embracing a WWH-based release strategy: Whenever, wherever, however.

Once independent filmmakers have unfettered access to every television set in America – and eventually the world – the gatekeepers will have lost the war. It will also mean the death of the middleman. Suddenly you decide when your film is released. You decide how much to charge. You decide when your film comes off screen, if ever.

As an architect of video-centric applications for the internet over several years, I’ve necessarily set aside any concern about what device a user would use to access the application. And as a member of the independent film community, I’ve likewise pushed back hard against those who would rail against watching films on computer screens vs. movie screens. Or any other size screen. Or with or without a group of like-minded souls.

It’s been clear for a long time now that people are going to watch movies on any and every device thrown at them – gargantuan, tiny and everything in between – and the personal taste or aesthetic of the creator simply isn’t going to change this new reality. Fighting it will hurt your head and cost you money.

So don’t be a fighter, be a lover. Embrace every opportunity for making your film accessible and available and love them all at the same time. Be an independent film polygamist. Everyone in the same house at the same time. It’s working for HBO and it will work for you.

Light that polygamist fire!