The marriage of film and the Internet

Rich Reader · March 3, 2009 · Short URL:

Cinequest co-founder Halfdan Hussey explains the state of the industries

On February 28, 2009 Halfdan Hussey (Co-Founder & Director, Cinequest) introduced a panel discussion entitled "The Marriage of TV and the Internet"  at the Cinequest Independent Film Festival. His introduction was compelling in and of itself because it captured the state of the Internet and film industries.

I paraphrase (ever so slightly) this master of ceremonies' remarks going forward herein:

For years we were very happy to have introduced the showcase of 24P digital filmmaking, when all of the sudden the whole world changed ... video was no longer laughed at, it was embraced, because it captured the experience of 35 and 16 millimeter filmmaking very well, while bringing the cost way down. 

People who never before had access, all of the sudden, had it. We were seeing films being made, from around the globe, from the street to the studios, which created a very exciting time that remains so.  Did the tools make better films? No, the artist makes the film, but the tools give opportunity and voice to the artist. That was a big challenge which we were very happy to help solve. 

Film still costs more than writing a novel, but it has gained great access.  By the year 2000, less than one percent of the films that debuted at Cinequest, Sundance, Toronto, Telluride found any form of traditional studio release. So while the films were getting made, they were only getting seen at film festivals.  Most of these films were not going to function within the world of traditional theatrical distribution, because they didn't have big movie stars and television budgets, but now the internet has opened the way to democratizing opportunity. 

The artist who has no access to Hollywood studio distribution can now put his/her work in front of people who truly love what they have done.

Beginning in 2001, we did some work with Kontiki, Mike Homer, and Grid Technologies to deliver film efficiently and securely through the internet.  Two years ago we approached Reed Hastings (a friend and advisor of Cinequest, as well as Chairman and CEO of Netflix) who recommended building out a DVD label into a full distribution company for film makers.  So we began to distribute features and shorts on both the internet and DVD.  We've helped other companies, such as Jaman, to form, found, and grow.  However, two serious issues remain to be resolved:

  1. Most people prefer watching a film on their in their home entertainment environment, rather than on their personal computers (unless they are traveling).
  2. Artists need to make money upon which to live and upon which to continue to practice their craft.

This describes the situation of the world at this moment.  Today's panel will deal with the practices that will help to cure these problems, to unite internet delivery with high quality presentation in the home entertainment environment.  While this is not intended to replace the social experience of theatrical distribution, it should enhance the mutually beneficial day-to-day engagement of film makers and film lovers.

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