Remember how hard it used to be to get famous or get your foot in the door in Hollywood? It used to be that you had to either know someone in the industry (usually a relative… see "The Baldwin Brothers" or "Casey Affleck”) or you had to have an impressive resume of directing music videos and television commercials (see Spike Jonze or Michael Bay).
These days, though, the Internet is the great equalizer. Aspiring singers, writers, and yes… even filmmakers, can carve out a career path all on their own.
Today we have further evidence of this trend, with the Hollywood Reporter story on the director of "Panic Attack.”
"Panic Attack" is a short film on YouTube that was made for a few hundred dollars by a filmmaker from Uruguay named Fede Alvarez. The film, which runs 4 minutes and 48 seconds, is about a fleet of robots attacking the city of Montevideo, and the public panic that ensues. It has been viewed over half a million times.
One of those viewers was Sam Raimi—you might know him as the director of the Spiderman films, the Evil Dead films, and many more. Seems that Raimi and some of his partners in the relatively new Ghost House Pictures took such a liking to the film and its bootstraps approach that they offered a development deal. According to the article, they actually reached out to him on the very same day his video was originally posted.
Under the terms of the deal, Alvarez will be paired with a writer to develop one of his original ideas into a feature film.
The rapid advancement of technology is completely changing the entertainment business model from the ground up. Earlier this year, audiences gasped in awe at the special effects of District 9—effects that cost significantly less than standard studio graphics. Hardware is more powerful and less expensive, and software capabilities are growing by leaps and bounds. Average Joe filmmakers can now whip up in their rec rooms the same kind of eye-popping CGI effects that you'd see in a big budget studio film.
And is it any surprise that Hollywood is willing to sign someone who's shown filmmaking talent, despite the fact that he's a relative nobody? No. They just want to make money. And hiring cheaper directors is an easy way to increase the profit margins.
In the long run, we all win from this sort of thing. The fraternity of film directors is no longer an exclusive club, designed to exclude all but a select few. Instead, anyone with an HD camera, some software, and a YouTube account can go from zero to major director. That means we—the audience—will continue to see higher quality work. As usual, competition breeds quality as the best stuff rises to the top, regardless of origin.
For businesses looking to strike it rich with a viral hit, this new development should provide plenty of encouragement. Even the little guys can get noticed. Heck, you don't even need to hire a marketing firm or even a professional filmmaker to create your viral masterpiece. With a little talent and a lot of determination, you too can go from zero to viral hero in no time. YouTube might just do the rest for you.
Now, sit back and enjoy the triumph of the so-called little guy, "Panic Attack" by Fede Alvarez: