Sebastian Gutierrez's latest feature, "Girl Walks Into a Bar," will premiere in the YouTube Screening Room with sponsorship from Lexus on March 11 -- the same day it makes its theatrical premiere at SXSW.
The producers describe it as "the first major motion picture created exclusively for web distribution," a claim backed by a cast that includes Zachary Quinto, Carla Gugino, Rosario Dawson and Danny DeVito.
So is sponsored web-only distribution a wave of the future? Gutierrez would like to know, too. "It's an experiment," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
Best known for low-budget, star-driven comedies ("Women in Trouble," the upcoming "Elektra Luxx"), Gutierrez wrote "Girl" after being approached by Shangri-La Entertainment to make a film for the web.
"Their pitch sounded crazy at first," he said. "But I'm interested in reaching the biggest audience possible, so I was interested. Small-budget movies; the main problem they have lies in marketing and distribution costs. The theory here was to bypass all that. All you need is word of mouth with the web."
Shot with a Canon 7D over 11 days, "Girl" follows a series of characters in interlocking stories that take place in 10 bars during the course of one evening in Los Angeles. This allows the film to be split into 10 chapters, which also leaves room for Lexus commercials to pop up over the course of the feature.
However, Gutierrez stressed that he wrote the script with the sections in place and that the film is not merely a collection of mini-webisodes, but a proper movie in its own right.
"Shangri-La gave me complete freedom," he said. "I sat down with them and told them I was not going to just point a camera and shoot something funny. I had every intention of making a movie with dolly shots, steady cams, with a great cast and Hollywood production values."
Click here to view the film's trailer.
This article originally stated the film was making its premiere on March 1. It has since been corrected to March 11.