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YouTube video analytics tool gives filmmakers a boost

There is a new trend among creators on YouTube: to release your full-length feature film.

Earlier this month, N.Y. filmmakers released the first feature film premiere ever on YouTube called the Cult of Sincerity. And now Google Me, a full-length documentary about a guy who Googles his name and then tracks down and interviews the other Jim Killeen's found in his search is freely available to viewers as well.

These two films on YouTube take a different approach to generating revenue. Google Me's director is making his film temporarily available for free on YouTube and plans to sell DVDs on the main site for $24.95, hoping that the buzz generated on the YouTube release will net some profits on DVD sales.

The Cult of Sincerity's filmmakers have teamed up with a music Web site called Amie Street, and they are asking viewers to sign up on the site for music downloads and sales. In exchange, the filmmakers receive $2 per subscriber. Various video ads also appear in the lower-third of the YouTube player as well as in the Web page's margin.

While many may question why filmmakers with potential for a theatrical run would take this risk and give away their film for free, consider that YouTube has just released Insight, a free tool giving anyone with a YouTube account the ability to view detailed stats on the videos they upload. Users can see how popular their videos are compared to others, how often their video is viewed in various geographic regions, how long it takes to become popular, what days their videos are most popular, and so on. This can have a major impact on a film's potential for generating revenue through advertising and it can also help filmmakers target their future films and create content that appeals to their audience.

YouTube viewers give both movies positive marks too. Looks like I have some new movies to watch...and for free!