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in Filmmaking
on Feb 9, 2008

Variety reports today on the expected launch of The Auteurs, a new online film distributor. From the story by John Hopewell and Charles Newbery:

Film producer Eduardo Costantini and computer scientist Efe Cakarel are launching the Auteurs, a Silicon Valley-based global online cinematheque that will stream high-definition independent and classic films.

The Auteurs’ main content provider is Celluloid Dreams….

The site will be curated by established programmers: the Latin America section, for example, is curated by Peter Schumann, recipient of the Berlinale Camera, who worked for the Berlinale for 35 years.

In consumer terms, the Auteurs will deliver feature-length films at a moment’s notice.

“It’s like YouTube but you get a two-hour, full-length full-screen film in high definition,” said Cakarel.

A social site allowing interactivity, Auteurs will offer interviews and reviews.

The Auteurs’ business model is “freemium,” Cakarel and Costantini said. Most of the catalogue films will be offered gratis. The Auteurs will also offer paid-for premium content and the venture will be financed through advertising.

I’ve been a member of the site during its beta test and have played around with it a bit, although I’ve also had terrible internet connections in Europe recently so I’ll wait until I get back to New York to explore it more thoroughly. And I’ll be eager to get more news on the site and post it here. I didn’t realize that after the beta test the site is going to work on what the founders call a “freemium” model, which certainly challenges some of the orthodoxies of online feature film distribution thinking at the moment. (The almost-concluded WGA strike was partly about how writers can receive remuneration from these type of models, including networks’ use of free streaming as an additional distribution channel for television programs.)

For now, though you can go to The Auteurs and sign up for the private beta, which is still continuing, and if you have some thoughts on the site and its model, feel free to post them here.

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