Joshua Sikora created a small film company called New Renaissance Pictures while he was a student a few years ago at Biola University. At the time, he started an ambitious project called “Project X.” He planned to distribute the movie online, but with the rise of YouTube and the focus on short content, he realized that putting a feature online would be less than effective. So, in July Josh started a new division of New Renaissance Pictures called WebSerials.com—put simply, it’s about serializing feature films in short, weekly episodes through their website and on YouTube.
By focusing on feature-length stories rather than a more episodic format, they’ve put a new spin on this growing medium and proved—quite successfully, that there’s a market for more traditional, yet creative, storytelling on the web. “Project X” is joined by another new production—a sci-fi comedy “Cataclysmo and the Time Boys.” Josh tells me:
“We’ve been online for less than two months, but the first nine episodes of our two films have already been watched more than 200,000 times. Last week, the YouTube editors wrote on their blog that Michael Eisner’s “Prom Queen,” the Emmy-award-winning “Satacracy88,” and our two shows are four of the “best dramas the web has to offer.” Not bad company to keep.”
It’s incredibly exciting to see the potential here. Josh and his team started right after college with pretty much nothing—no money, no star power. All they have is the quality of their work. But with the new media sometimes that’s all it takes.
Josh continues: “My goal, and I know this is doable, is to produce competitive features for $100,000 to $250,000. Each film gets serialized online, then distributed on DVD. Between ad revenue from the online broadcasts and DVD sales & rentals, it’s more than feasible to turn a profit. But more exciting than that is that it’s a model that allows people like myself the opportunity to tell the stories we want to tell. I’d love to see more talented Christian filmmakers taking advantage of this new medium and being the pioneers of this new frontier—I think we could gain even more ground here than we might hope to gain through faith divisions and faith-based films at the major studios. And we’d be working towards the future, rather than racing to catch up.”
I couldn’t agree more.