LongForm/YouTube/OxyMoron

April 23, 2009

Thanks to Chuck at the Chutry Experiment for alerting me to the fact that the docs on snagfilms are now, magically, on YouTube. You see, beyond the many feature docs that this now makes available, as well as the many other feature films and TV shows delivered via other corporate deals bent on maybe, finally, monetizing the site, this also means that my very own SCALE is on YouTube.

My reaction is ambivalent. Lots more people might view my anti-war documentary; all these people will see it in a context that is not ideal for activism, analysis, or community. Chances are they’ll watch a minute or two, and click elsewhere. However, its 60 minutes (as is true for all features) is crafted to grow and change and build, so the first few minutes relay little of what it becomes and less of what I hope to say.

When I make YouTube videos, I speak in a messy fast vernacular suited and situated for this medium. My “professional” work, is long form, produced collaboratively with a crew (cameraman, editor, producer) and is made to be screened with the lights down in a room of others driven to be there, talk after, and perhaps even do something against the war later.

These distinctions have become at once more relevant and irrelevant. As all media becomes available all the time, the careful conditions of shared activist viewing become increasingly absent and therefore more valuable and necessary. As the differences between amateur/professional and alternative/mainstream wane, our needs for “pure” acts outside of capitalism escalate. As corporations take on a larger role in alternative distribution, artists beware. When I tried to make the feature version of my documentary SCALE the main video selection on my SCALE YouTube page, I got this banner from YouTube: “We are unable to show you the original featured video for this channel due to age or location restrictions.” Snag’s corporate umbrella got my long doc onto YouTube (thanks!) but controls its terms (there’s also ads embedded!).

3 Responses to “LongForm/YouTube/OxyMoron”

  1. Shawn Sobers Says:

    Similar to your SCALE experience, a few years ago I found that someone I don’t know had uploaded a 50 mins professional TV documentary I made up on Google Video, up there in 2 halves, called Footsteps of the Emperor. Of course I was flattered, and thankful that the work could be shared to wider audience, as you say. It also struck me that I have NO IDEA how to upload video any longer than 10 minutes. The persmissions wouldn’t allow it for me. Before I found the film on Google video, on YouTube all I could manage to upload was a 10 minute clip with a promise that I would do the rest when I could figure out how to. (I never got around to it.) Very strange feeling being bootlegged before I even had a chance to bootleg myself!!!


  2. […] and Prison; while SCALE, about my sister Antonia, was loaded by the corporation that distributes it against my better wishes). The reason(s) are clear: activist videos are made to be shown within organized settings, where […]


  3. Very good blog post I enjoy your site carry on the amazing posts


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