YouTube just launched its new "Screening Room," and there's a good chance that the Sundance Film Festival will never quite be the same again.
The Screening Room presents high quality, independent films to YouTube users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks. Given YouTube's immense reach, these indies will immediately find a vast international audience. Then, to sweeten the deal even further, YouTube will offer filmmakers a major cut of the advertising revenue generated by the viewing of each video. Plus, hard and digital copies of the films can be sold as well. If this new venture gains traction (and you have to think it will), YouTube could suddenly find itself the center of gravity for the indie world, displacing Sundance along the way.
The first four films featured in The Screening Room are hardly duds. The Danish Poet won the 2007 Oscar for best animated short; Love and War won the same award at the Los Angeles Film Festival; Our Time Is Up got an Oscar nomination in 2006; and then there's Miranda July's "Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?. The next batch of films comes out July 4. For more info, see this piece in the LA Times.
Addendum: I have since stumbled upon this video that promotes/tells you more about the Screening Room.