Elliot (Liam Cunningham) in SLR, photo by Aidan Monaghan
Elliot (Liam Cunningham) in SLR, photo by Aidan Monaghan


19 February 2014

SLR, written and directed by Stephen Fingleton, is the first BFI Short to be released online. 24 hours after its release on Vimeo, the film has been selected as a ‘Staff Pick’ and attracted over 140,000 views.

In a bid to reach a wider and more diverse audience, an increasing number of filmmakers are opting to show and distribute their work online. The platforms from which to launch your film online are more plentiful than ever, but with the web awash with content, how do you get your short film noticed?

On its first day of release, BFI Short SLR was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick, the holy grail for filmmakers looking to connect with audiences. To celebrate the online premiere of SLR, we hosted a special live event and after the discussion, we caught up with SLR director, Stephen Fingleton.

Below you can also watch the companion film Selfie – directed by Ben Williams – which asks us to reconsider the people we are most intimate with, and the data we entrust to them. From the perspective of a young woman, Selfie muses on themes of voyeurism, self-identity and youth.

Was it always your plan to distribute the film online?

If one of the reasons you’re making a short film is to demonstrate your abilities to the industry, putting it behind a password to keep festival exclusivity, defeats the purpose. The strength of online is that someone can Google your name and be watching your film within fifteen seconds. In the end we did a brief festival run, but we targeted Irish festivals because we knew what our targets were and we wanted time to plan the online launch. As part of the BFI Shorts training programme, Lighthouse organised a workshop with Matt Locke, during which we planned an event which evolved into the film’s launch event.

Were you concerned about ruling out festivals because of this?

In terms of festivals, you can strike out the ‘majors’ such as Berlin, Venice and Cannes by going online, but I have never had work screened there so there wasn’t a relationship to weigh it against. But many festivals have completely scrapped exclusivity – so that’s the future, co-existence rather than status game. There’s a useful article on festivals and online eligibility here.

Do you have a goal for the number of views you want to obtain as a marker of success?

Metrics are useful and it’s important to have clear goals, but we were interested in the quality of hits. Really we were aiming for a filmmaking and art-film audience, with some niche markets like Game of Thrones. What we’ve tried to do is to place it close to ‘multipliers’ – people who can recommend to others or have their own audience, to create momentum.



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