Nash Edgerton is an award-winning director, former stuntman and member of the film collective Blue Tongue Films. His film "Spider" has notched over half a million views on YouTube, and his feature-length film, "The Square," is now playing in theaters across the U.S. In this interview, he discusses the importance of screening your film to an in-person audience and the collaborative process of a collective.
Can you talk about how you guys work as a collective?
Basically, Blue Tongue Films is a loose collective of filmmakers who help out on each other's projects in whatever capacity they can. We encourage each other to make stuff. We give feedback on each other's work. It's like a healthy competition thing. You help your friends make the best film they can so that it inspires you to have something new to show that is hopefully as good or better than the last thing.
Do you ever use YouTube for inspiration?
YouTube is a great source of inspiration. Sometimes it's great to find reference material; other times, purely for entertainment. Not a day goes by where someone in the gang doesn't send one or more things on for the others to check out.
What's your distribution strategy for your short films?
We always first send our short films to the major film festivals because, as filmmakers, the first time you really get to see your film and know whether it has worked is through the eyes of other people. Seeing it with a crowd and getting their instant reaction is very telling. After that, the films usually play some of the smaller festivals as well as various TV stations around the world that take short films; now we have started putting them on YouTube as well. The picture quality of YouTube has really improved, and I think it is a great way to share our work with people all around the world. YouTube really has given filmmakers an opportunity to gain a much wider audience than ever before for short content.
Your film "Spider" was one of the early popular hits on YouTube. Why do you think it resonated with so many people?
"Spider" came out at a time when short films on YouTube really started to take off. It gets quite a vocal reaction from people – and people seem to love watching other people watch it. Maybe I'm not as alone with my dark sense of humor as I thought I was. :)
Where do you see independent film distribution heading in the next five years?
Independent film distribution is constantly changing. I hope that people will continue to see films in the cinema, as some films are really meant to be seen on the big screen with a large group of people. But the marketing is definitely being focused more and more online. You really think about who you think your audience is before you put it out in the world. With so many things out there vying for people's attention, every film really needs to be treated differently and marketed carefully to find its audience.
What would be your most important piece of advice for someone who's just finished shooting their short film?
Make sure you get to see your film with a large audience. It is the best way to find out for yourself whether the film works or not. And don't just give up if you get knocked back by the first bunch of film festivals or places that you send your film to. You can't please everybody.