My girlfriend linked me to a video on YouTube the other day to a movie titled Four Eyed Monsters. What makes this specific YouTube video a bit different from the rest is that it’s a completely free, full-length movie at 1 hour and 11 minutes (that must not have been fun to upload).
When you start the video, you see the two young directors introducing themselves and the movie. Apparantly, we learn, that they have gone to deep debt creating the movie, when we see one of the directors fan out his 15-20 credit cards. The directors then inform viewers that they have partnered up with Spout.com, a type of social community movie review website, and that Spout has agreed to pay the directors $1 for each sign-up they can refer to them, to help them get out of debt. Spout agreed to pay up to $100,000 which, one of the directors says, “would make up a large chunk of our credit card debt”. The sign-up is quick and easy, requiring only a username, password, and e-mail, and is, of course, free.
The Four Eyed Monsters video was posted on June 8th, and has already amassed over half a million views. Spout.com keeps a running total of earnings on their site, and to date the film has brought in $28,569. I’ve been keeping an eye on this over the past few days and they seem to be bringing in several hundred dollars per day.
I’m actually somewhat suspicious that this all wans’t just a marketing scheme from the beginning. That is, that Spout had the film made, cheap, and set this all up to market their site. In any case, nearly 30,000 sign-ups to an unknown site (they don’t even have PageRank yet) in just a couple weeks is very impressive.
On a side note I’d like to mention just how surprising it is to still see people amass huge quantities of credit card debt… I’ve never really understood how people can associate credit cards with essentially “free money”… and to spend $100,000 on a movie, using credit cards as your money source, at 19%+? It just doesn’t make sense to me..
Anyhow, while providing something for free and asking (begging) for money isn’t new, the way that Four Eyed Monsters has partnered with Spout.com and YouTube is certainly interesting. It shows that any regular person can take advantage of the sheer number power of social networking, and turn it into a profit for themselves (or in this case, $30,000 less in debt).
[Update: I actually just finished watching the entire movie and I must say that it was quite good! And now I change my earlier assumption that it might have been just a marketing ploy from the beginning. If you have the time you might want to watch it, it's really quite good. I'd rate it 'R' though in case you want to show it to your kids...]