If you’ve had trouble sleeping the past few days, there’s a solid chance someone took you to see Don’t Breathe (or, for the more faint-hearted among us, sent you the trailer). The tension-ridden horror smash just beat out Suicide Squad at the box office, and all that buzz has put Fede Alvarez, the director of Don’t Breathe, in the hot seat.
Screen Rant published an interview with Alvarez last week, where the Uruguayan director gave advice to up-and-coming filmmakers. Hopeful indie directors and fans of his gut-wrenching work alike will be happy to know that Alvarez has expanded on these points and even gave a special shout-out to YouTube.
When asked, by Mashable‘s El Pulso in the video interview “How do you think that YouTube is becoming an important tool for up-and-coming filmmakers?” Alvarez provided a detailed response. He likened publishing independent work on YouTube to getting discovered at a film festival, which was a “slower process,” and stated that “these days you have a lot more chances to get your work out there.” The director also expanded on the power of YouTube as both a video-viewing platform and a form of social media:
“I think these days if you do something good and you put it out there on YouTube, it will reach its audience. I mean, I don’t think there’s a way that you do something that is great, and it just dies on YouTube and nobody sees it…People post it and just share it, and very quickly it will spread like wildfire, people will see it. So, that makes the world, in a way, a smaller place when it comes to Hollywood and the industry making films.”
Alvarez is certainly no stranger to the star-making potential of YouTube, since his 2009 short Panic Attack! garnered over 7 million views’ worth of recognition and landed him a job directing and co-writing the Evil Dead remake. And Alvarez isn’t the only other filmmaker who’s made it big because of an online short: this summer’s other horror success, Lights Out, launched the career of director David F. Sandberg after execs noticed his successful short film of the same name. Sandberg posted the short Lights Out on Vimeo and YouTube in late 2013.
The industry is legitimizing online content more and more now, including the decision to create Emmy categories for “short-form digital productions.” YouTube big breaks like Alvarez and Sandberg’s could point to a more egalitarian filmmaking future, where creators who only have access to free sites like YouTube are just as visible as directors who know studio bigwigs. Even the means for film production are becoming more accessible, as exemplified by iPhone features like 2015’s Tangerine.
It will be interesting to see if an industry standard develops for where shorts should be posted. Vimeo carries a level of indie cred yet unachieved by YouTube, as the first to launch monetized content through Vimeo On Demand, a festival favorite, and the curator of their own Short of the Week spotlight. Still, YouTube sports more users and offers content creators a free platform on which to upload films of any size and quality. Makers posting to YouTube have up to 128 GB to play with per upload, whereas Vimeo users only get 500 MB per week before they have to pay.
It’s unclear from which site producers will dig up the next big indie filmmaker, but one thing is for certain: to paraphrase Fede Alvarez, don’t wait for a producer’s OK to make something. Just make it. And then, maybe, upload it to YouTube.
Don’t Breathe is now showing in theaters worldwide.