January 28, 2011
Finding A Community For Your Work
Let’s face it, without a community of people who support your work and your individuality as a creative force, who will be pushing you to be a better artist? The likelihood of success on any front and at any level isn’t as good as it is when you have some kind of fanbase, an average viewership/readership that is providing constant feedback. You need people consistently checking up on what you’re doing, fans of your work that beg for more and if you don’t do something right they call you out and provide feedback necessary for you to get it right the next time.
This is important and many filmmakers, writers, photographers and so forth are establishing their community via online websites. Youtube is infamous for this (among other things) as are sites like FilmAnnex.com and Vimeo.com. I have accounts with all of these sites and have tested the waters as far as their communities go for some time. FilmAnnex is relatively new and I don’t feel they’ve quite found their footing – but they’re getting there and they’re getting there fast. They’re also incredibly generous when it comes to promoting their users as “independent filmmakers” and whenever a user uploads a film they are quick to tweet the link. I look forward to the day when they can provide this amazing service without all the auto-playing commercials. Aside from that, they’re doing everything just right.
Vimeo is one of those sites that is infamous for its “community interaction” – and also one of those sites that charges a fee for “professional” services – in that you get the ability to upload larger files, more gigabytes per week week than their free account and a bunch of other quarks that YouTube actually offers for free. I have had Vimeo “Plus” for two years now and my renewal is coming up. I have ultimately decided not to renew my “Plus” account and let my profile slide back into the abyss of “free” status. Yes, I will surely be looked down on by many a users who have pledged their allegiance to Vimeo but it matters not. I’ve been very dissatisfied with the site, with its staff and the community at large. Their only redeeming quality is just that – their quality. The quality of their video is impeccable and everyone knows this. In fact, they are my preference when it comes to embedding videos on my website as their player is non-obtrusive and crystal clear. But this just isn’t enough.
You see, to understand Vimeo you have to understand that they seem to want to be the primary online resource of independent film – and the home where our kind flock to. But it seems their interest is in trivial material and not so much quality content. “Cool” videos less than three minutes long, with “viral” potential seem to get more attention than thoughtful, well scripted short films between five and ten minutes. Truly independent films that clearly have a story take a backseat to skateboard videos and scenics shot specifically to promote such devices like the “Indie-Slider” or the latest Glidecam jib. Likewise, all of their selections for their Vimeo Festival was material which clearly had larger budgets than most Vimeo users are able to generate for their projects. Because of this, the Vimeo Festival, in my eyes, was nothing but a corporate gag – a joke at the expense of its users who all flocked to that iceberg building of theirs to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do at these events. Go oogleboogles over other people’s work? Hell no, not me. Many of these projects weren’t as independent as they could have been and its clear that Vimeo’s staff just doesn’t have the necessary set of eyes to judge any of the work it features. I’m sorry if this hurts feelings and I know some of the users won’t appreciate this opinion, but a one minute video of a kid doing flips on a bicycle is not an independent film. It’s viral content and nothing more. A music video which clearly had a plus $100,000 budget is not a low budget affair and for many users to be competing against this sort of work shows just how in the dark many of its loyal user ship actually resides.
This isn’t entirely an attack on Vimeo. I am constantly researching various video hosting websites, especially those geared towards “independent film” and believe me when I say that I have my beef with all of them. The funny part is, the one I have the fewest complaints about is YouTube. Sure it gets a lot of flack for allowing a lot of bullshit to go up, but the site recognizes when people are trying to be unique, different and original. They may not have the best customer support out there but they have many different options when it comes to the quality of video playback and they’ve got a larger user ship which means more hits on your movies. Lately they’ve been granting certain accounts the ability to upload videos that are longer than their standard 15 minute restriction. YouTube has come a long way since their early days and the progress actually shows in the way they are rewarding their users.
I don’t endorse any service or website. This review is my opinion as a user, one who has purchased the service either with monetary compensation to the service provider or through dedicated use. I look forward to seeing how these different communities develop in the future.