Film Festivals: The Bit Screen

“It’s really not about distributing films over the Internet,” says Bit Screen creator Nora Barry. “To me, it’s a completely new art form.” On-line in the summer of 1998, more than six months before other Internet distributors, The Bit Screen got a big shot in the arm after a New York Times profile last January.

Barry describes the site, run by herself and a staff of four, as a laboratory where filmmakers can experiment on-line. “It’s the site where I want people to come and try things out. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to work, but I am willing to take the trip.” With an eye on the future, Barry is launching the Cinema Lounge this month as a special site for high-speed broadband users. It will screen independent films, list local film resources, and offer other information for filmmakers and enthusiasts. The site, created with MediaOne, is rolling out in select cities through January.

Most movies screen on-line for about two weeks. “If the goal is to get your work seen, then it’s worth shooting for the Internet,” she says. “There don’t seem to be as many barriers for entry as there are on the festival circuit.”

The Bit Screen
Launched: July 1998

Plug-ins required: RealPlayer

Audience (per month): 100,000 page views, download totals unavailable.

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Eugene Hernandez is co-founder & editor in chief of indieWIRE []