Web Video Moves and Shakes at Pixelodeon

While maybe short on Tinseltown glamour, this weekend’s inaugural Pixelodeon online video festival still dazzled. A mix of filmmakers, techies and businesspeople gathered at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, to share ideas, go to parties, and watch screenings.

While much of the discussion focused on how to make a business out of producing video content for online distribution, Creative Commons Jon Phillips’ presentation on new ways to think about copyright reminded me that it was ultimately a celebration of new tools and ideas for people making motion pictures online.

But what made it different than any of the many, many other conferences? Inspiration.

Everything from the abstract and conceptual quality of artistry in Jennifer Proctor‘s curated selections for “Fringes of the Vlogosphere” to the seemingly endless possibilities available to filmmakers on display in Eric Rice‘s “Machinima” selections, everybody at the conference seem to come away with ideas and motivation to create more and better work once they got home.

Thankfully, links to all of the clips at the screenings will compiled in the coming days, which is good even for attendees like me, who had to make a number of hard choices between between concurrent viewings and discussions. Video of the keynotes will be posted in the coming weeks as well. The packed schedule presented so much quality work and interesting personalities that it was an impossible task to see it all.

The keynote highlight was the kick-off presentation from Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols’ presentation of their “45 Minute Film School,” which covered tips based on the lessons they learned in creating Ask a Ninja. One key point they made is that even if you don’t have plans to produce material for the commercial market, you should work as though you are, in order to keep the rights to work and relationships with your collaborators intact in case offers come in. “Expect failure, but plan for success” in Sarine’s words.

A relatively small conference of maybe 300 people over the course of the weekend, it featured a cast of characters ranging from cable veteran and Next New Networks partner Fred Siebert to YouTube star Cory “Mr. Safety” Williams, with media veterans and newbies offering each other tips and making contact on the campus steps and at the parties at Hollywood hot spots.

It was the sheer variety of ideas on hand that made for a great experience. All sorts of successful online video business models from advertising to non-exclusive licensing agreements were presented, and the content ranged from purely non-commercial public interest journalism to purely wacky comedy for a broad audience.

In my hotel after the first day, I turned on some basic cable and was taken aback by both the glossy high production values and the formulaic vapidity I’ve grown almost unfamiliar with, which was jarring compared to the Pixelodeon entries. The second night I didn’t make the same mistake — fellow attendees gathered around laptops and laughed our asses off at FilmCow’s “Charlie the Unicorn” and Detrimental Information’s derisive deconstruction of Pam Stenzel.

It was an insider’s look into Hollywood outsiders, and if there’s another next year I won’t miss it.

Photo of Jon Phillips’ Creative Commons keynote by organizer Zadi Diaz.

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