Even if a film gets accepted on the fest circuit, getting it sold, and ever making money off it, is such a crap shoot, that more and more filmmakers are taking advantage of the ability to self-distrib their own films.
But are they any good? Here are some films you can see online right here, right now, and see for yourself what's out there ...
Maxed Out -- This feature-length doc explores the economics of credit and how and why so many Americans have over-extended themselves financially in their quest to have bigger and bigger houses and more stuff to fill them. Particulary scary? The revelation of the extent to which the major banks are involved in the highly profitable business of payday loans -- preying on the poor with high interest rates in the name of profit. If you, like a lot of folks, are thinking of buying more home than you can reasonably afford with one of those nifty loans that seem like such a good deal, watch this first.
Summer Shorts Online -- If you just can't get enough short films until the next film fest, never fear. IFC and Rooftop Films have partnered to keep your summer hot, hot hot with a new short film going up every day in their Summer Shorts Online program! Up for August so far: Monkey Versus Robot, a bizarre little music video, and a special treat: Take My Life, a new (at least I assume new) short by Kelly Oliver and Keary Rosen, who previously had another short, First Firing, in the "Welcome to Normal" program in April's New York Underground Film Festival. Reverse Shot had this to say about First Firing: " ... a play of associative and rhyming terms rattled off in British deadpan over some matching and non-matching images that's fun and strangely inspiring, especially if you, like me, enjoy words." That pretty much sums up Take My Life as well, so if you're into spoken word and/or experimental film, check it out.
Don't overlook the entries for June and July while you're there (don't miss Nutria, a short about the battle to eradicate a species of water rat that's taken over the Louisiana wetlands ... you'll never look at rats the same way again once you see one of these suckers -- they look like they could take on NYC sewer rats and come out on top) ... heck, invite your favorite cinephile over, order in some pizza, toss up a nice caesar salad and serve it all up with a bottle of decent-ish wine. Then dim the lights fire up your trusty laptop, and snuggle up on your secondhand couch for your own private shorts fest -- it's a perfect cheap date night.
If you're feeling a little more socially conscious, mosey on over to the Media that Matters Short Film Festival, where you can check out a wide array of shorts on social issues, many of them made by filmmakers under 21. It's a great way to see the next generation of filmmakers while getting educated about some important issues. For your convenience, the site even has the films broken down by category, so if you're in the mood to see films on, say, family and society, you can click on that and you'll find a list of films to check out including A Girl Like Me, about "African-American women struggling to define themselves," All That I Can Be, about a young man choosing the military as a means of making a better life for himself, and As We Sleep, the story of a young woman in a long-term care facility who was abused by her caregiver. Other categories include Gay and Lesbian, Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, Environment, Gender/Women, Health/Health Advocacy, Religous Freedom and more. Who knows? The next generation's Michael Moore may have his or her film on this site right now ... and years from now, you can say you saw the first film they made.
AOLs True Stories continues to bring you some great documentaries online. They still have Summercamp! up, and you can also catch Operation Dreamland -- both these films can be viewed in their entirety -- and there's a whole list of docs you can watch previews and trailers for as well.
Last but not least for this round-up, if you still haven't caught Four Eyed Monsters online in spite of our repeatedly telling you how great it is, never fear, you still have time to catch it over on YouTube. If you like what you see and want a higher quality DVD that you can watch over and over again, you can order the DVD from the Four Eyed Monsters website.