I took a closer look at SnagFilms this afternoon and liked what I saw. If quality of exhibition and ease of use is any indication of a successful plan, Snag may be onto something. And I’m not just kissing up because they’re indieWIRE’s new owners. The technology for watching movies online is there. Resolution and sound quality don’t match theatrical or HDTV exhibition, of course, but for the purposes of watching docs online, it’s totally sufficient. Took a peek at free viable movies such as Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me,” Ondi Timoner’s “Dig!” and Andy Wilson’s “Under Our Skin” — a ’08 Tribeca Film Fest hit about lime disease (who would have expected) — and found the delivery to be immediate and smooth when the image was expanded to fill my monitor.
While other online exhibition sites require unique video players, which however simple, keep viewers away, Snag — like Hulu.com or even YouTube — understands that online consumers don’t like to download programs and want to watch content in their browsers. Who knows if the advertising model is there? Or whether there are enough viewers interested in nonfiction to drive consistent traffic to the site? Or whether filmmakers have enough financial incentive to take part? But for now, there’s both a quality of programming and exhibition that should serve them well.