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Video Guy: Going Viral

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In a Silver Spring parking lot, Cutter Hodierne, 22, an H-B Woodlawn graduate and college dropout, talks about what it was like leaving college early and being an independent filmmaker. He also films local rapper Raina Rashad of the duo Raina & Pharroah as she performs for their "Cold Blooded" music video. Video by Ian Shapira/The Washington Post

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Cutter Hodierne and Beau Brewer
Filmmaker and GM, Video Production Company
Tuesday, June 2, 2009; 12:00 PM

Filmmaker Cutter Hodierne and Beau Brewer, general manager of Zadby, a video production company, were online Tuesday, June 2, at Noon ET to discuss making films and online videos and how to break into the business.

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Beau Brewer: Hello!

Glad to be here talking about how to monetize online video (and how to advertize in the medium).

Looking forward to answering some questions.

Thanks,

Beau

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Cutter Hodierne: My name is Cutter.

I am here to chat about the online film world and the article appearing in the post today.

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Arlington, Va.: Cutter, talk about the video that you made to help you gain entry to Emerson.

Cutter Hodierne: I made a three part video that Isent episodically to faculty and admissions counselors.

Basically, I starred in it, and plead my case for admission.

The fact that it was sent in pieces i think made the difference.

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washingtonpost.com: Video: A 'Cold-Blooded' Filmmaker

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Glover Park, D.C.: I don't understand your response that sending it in pieces made the difference. Why? File size? Serialization created interest? No idea what you mean.

Cutter Hodierne: The film I made to get into Emerson was called 'Waitlist Purgatory.'

I put it on DVD's and mailed it to the school's faculty on a weekly basis for three weeks.

I think that the persistent, regularly arriving packages, and the episodic nature of the content was the key to those videos being effective.

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New York, N.Y.: I get decent views on my online videos, and viewers seem to appreciate the content; however, I want to upgrade the production quality and can't really find a way to do it without more cash coming in. Any suggestions?

Beau Brewer: There are a few ways to make money in online video:

1) You can start your own site and sell banner or pre-roll advertising (probably through an ad network unless you've got enough traffic to justify doing your own sales).

2) You can join MetaCafe or other video hosting/sharing platforms that provide payment.

3) With sufficient popularity on YouTube, you'll be invited to join their partners program.

4) You can cut deals to work brand integration into your videos (i.e. getting Pizza Hut to pay you to use their pizza as the pizza you need in your next video).

I have the most familiarity with the 4th option -- and if you choose to go down this road, I suggest that finding a facilitator (cough, cough, Zadby) as the best means to reach the right brand advertisers.

Hope this helps!

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Reston, Va.: Once in a while I'll read where someone buys a video camera and goes into the jungle, films, then sells the product to National Geographic or something.

Is this fairly common? Do people generate a final product and then market it with their fingers crossed? Do they usually hire lawyers to handle negoations and contracts?

Beau Brewer: I don't think this approach is tremendously common. It just involves too much risk in up-front costs for the video creator. Plus, the odds of the end result getting in front of the right person at the network at exactly the right time is so low. Finally, if they do like it, you don't have much bargaining power (since they know that all your costs are already sunk and you may be willing to sell for almost any price to make some of your money back).

It's almost as long a shot to pitch the concept before you shoot, but at least your risks are much much lower and your negotiating power is better.

Cutter Hodierne: I agree with Beau.

However, if you're able to, at the very least, minimize the risk you take on, this approach could still be worth a shot.

Particularly if you've got a relationship already with a buyer.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: How long do you think it took to animate Pat and Stanley (hippo and dog) performing The Lion Sleeps Tonight? (Of which YouTube has something like 600 copies.)

Cutter Hodierne: i haven't seen it.

But animation is a long and arduous process. Only for the most talented and patient people you can dream of. I've heard of animators spending entire days on just a few frames.

Beau Brewer: I agree with Cutter. It looks like a 3-D animation, which may mean that they weren't creating by hand and didn't take quite as long as frame-by-frame creation. One of our producers has done a 30-second animated short. It wasn't as high quality as the one you asked about, but she did it with flash and it took her about 3-5 days.

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Washington, D.C.: What's been the biggest challenge for Cutter with dropping out of college? And how can we find out if he gets the U2 job?

Cutter Hodierne: The biggest challenge is remaining patient and NOT jumping on every oppurtunity that presents itself.

I am very selective in the projects that I take on. But being new to the game, it's sometimes the natural feeling to just take everything that presents itself. That is what I find challenging; making sure I am making content that I like, and that I want to watch.

As far as u2? You can see new work all the time and updates at My Name Is Cutter

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Old Towne Alexandria, Va.: Cutter. I read online about a 3GGB. Does that have anthing to do with you wearing shorts in the winter?

Cutter Hodierne: I always wear really outlandish shorts. It keeps the mirrors guessing.

3GGB is a creative collective I work with. It's made up of myself & two other directors. And when the project is right, we combine our forces and make internet art. We just finished our first official project for a band called 'Mathpanda'.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at MRB films in Alexandria creating a pitch for an ad client.

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Liverpool, England: Cutter. I caught a video piece you did with an Irish Aussie actor...I think? Who is that? How can I hire him?>

Cutter Hodierne: Ah yes.

John Hibey is an actor from Washington DC. Very talented. I claim to have discovered him. And when he's accepting awards he'll acknowledge that...

He's starred in a couple of my shorts, including 'The Stand Out'

The Standout

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Arlington, Va.: What is your next project?

Cutter Hodierne: It's a matter of schedule whether I'll be making a music video in L.A .or a commercial back in Washington.

Can't say for whom just yet!

You can see some of my recent work at MyNameIsCutter.com

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: I would like to know how to make money filming videos that go viral. In other words, I make a funny video with a theme or using a business or store as background, where I can sell the exposure to the owner.

Beau Brewer: Hi Brooklyn,

My general feeling is that the approach you ask about is similar to the earlier question from Reston, Va. You're probably putting the cart before the horse with trying to produce and then sell the finished video.

Early on, we've tried that approach twice with 2 of our top video producers who have huge online audiences (up to 3 million per video) and it's just an uphill battle to pitch after production.

We've found it much easier (which is not to say it's easy!) to pitch sponsored videos in concept form OR respond to RFPs from advertisers. In the first case, you aren't investing too much up front. In the second case, you are responding to an advertiser who has already shown strong interest in the medium.

This is really our area of expertise, so if you'd like to talk in more detail, you can contact us at Zadby.com. Good luck!

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Falls Church, Va.: You are awfully young to have this kind of success. Who helped you get started?

Cutter Hodierne: I've been lucky to have several great mentors.

David Burkman, a filmmaker/my film teacher in high school. He's who got me hooked. It was during his class in high school when I realized that I was in love with making these videos. He showed me how much thought and precision went into making films, and how so many factors were effecting how I reacted to a movie. To feel like I could have this power was what hooked me. Burkman is a phenomenal teacher and a hugely talented person. He's a close family friend now, and I will continue to learn from him. I am luck to have taken this guy's class.

Tom Krueger, has been tremendously generous to me with his own success. The trust and responsibility he's given me on some of his projects has reaallly helped me to grow and trust myself as filmmaker. From the business side, he's taught me an enormous amount.

There are several other people whom I am very lucky to have met. Mentors are a great thing.

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Beau Brewer: Thanks to everyone for your interest and questions. If there are other aspiring filmmakers out there, I'm more than happy to continue the conversation one-on-one. Our company will be most helpful in your efforts to monetize your work (or possibly advertize).

You can find contact information on Zadby.com.

Thanks and have a geat day!

Beau

washingtonpost.com: This concludes our discussion. Thank you for joining in.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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