Sometime last month Jason Fried (@jasonfried), co-Founder and President of the web industry standard-bearer 37Signals, decided to break new ground and hire a full-time filmmaker. This is nothing new for a company that has prided itself on always jumping on trends before others: It’s flagship project BasecampHQ was one of the earliest mainstream web-based applications. Not only that, the code Basecamp is built on has become an internet juggernaut forming the backbone for sites like Twitter, Soundcloud and Hulu.
Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons why new-hire Shaun Hildner (@shildner) with a camera at the ready will add much to 37Signals’ brand and following. According to Jason in his Inc. Magazine article, “Video is a great way to show off a company’s personality, people, culture, and customers. It helps humanize a business.” And he’s right; it’s super affordable to shoot, produce and edit micro documentaries nowadays thanks to the HDSLR movement. While a website, twitter account and even podcast appearances can do much to project a company’s “essence” it can be argued that a 4 minute web doc can do all that and more.
Why should this matter to you? Well, more than likely this is the beginning of a trend for regional urban filmmakers. First, companies are more image conscious than ever. The business transparency movement is gaining steam so thousands of startups and media savvy companies may look to hire similarly – or at least short-term contract work. Secondly, as the mobile smartphone revolution continues, a splash video for any website, social media account and business that lays out: Who we are, What we do, How we do it – in a concise, professional video will be essential. This promo video for the Evernote app is a great example.
But that won’t be the only gig goldmine. With the news from The Daily Beast that Google is finally spending real money on original content, we are entering an age in which web video will finally be taken seriously for media consumption. Big rumors remain that Netflix may follow. In the Tech TV world, there are already shows with a great following on web network Revision3, notably Tekzilla and including Film Riot. As freelancers, you’ve probably already worked on plenty of web promos, ads and testimonials. Soon are the days where you will be working on full-fledged web series, online indie film premieres, and subscription webstreams. The best thing you can do is position yourself to get these gigs and learn or buy the technology necessary to stay ahead of your competitors.
My advice? Dive into the web television culture any way you can. The desktop Boxee app is free and syncs with a lot of the content. A Roku is very affordable and allows you to stream content to your regular television. And of course, you can pore over popular YouTube series as well. My personal favorites being the thought provoking “TED Talks”, indie music art of “La Blogotheque”, and comedy puppet show “Glove and Boots”.
How about my readers: Any web trends you’re noticing? What are your favorite web shows?
Steve Long is a Film Producer, FCP Editor, and AfterEffects Artist living and working in the NYC area. Follow him @shootbydaylight. Questions, comments, feedback: slong@filmslatemagazine . com