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Episode 24 – Do On-Line Views Really Matter with Guest Colin Levy

Do on-line views really matter? Who better to ask than Director Colin Levy whose short film “Sintel” has 4.5Million views on YouTube. We talk to Colin about why he thinks certain films succeeed and others don’t and whether or not views actually matter.

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Show Notes / Links

  • Colin Levy is a filmmaker from Lutherville, Maryland. He’s the director SINTEL, an independent animated short film made by  the Blender Institute, which won the Audience Award at the Animayo International Film Festival in Spain, and now has over 4 million views on YouTube. His live-action short EN ROUTE won the Tribute Magazine Award for Best Director at the YoungCuts Film Festival, and his senior film THE SECRET NUMBER won the Jury Award for Best Short at the Charleston International Film Festival. The culmination of his work has recently led to an opportunity at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California, where he is currently working as a Camera & Staging Artist.
Director Colin Levy

Visit Colin’s website:

  • Colin tells us about his start as a filmmaker and his interest in melding Visual Effects with Live Action and how that eventually led to directing “Sintel” and a job with Pixar.
  • We talk about the first films we put on-line and how they did.

  • We share our filmmaking upbringings, the tools we had available, and how that’s shaped our work.
  • We talk about Colin’s struggle to balance work/creative life with a time consumign job at Pixar.
  • We talk about re-shoots. Colin plans re-shoots on his upcoming short film and why he believes we all deserve a second chance to make something better. Alrik shares some re-shoot stories about filmmakers he’s known.
  • Colin shares the process of re-shaping a film in edit and planning for re-shoots.
  • Alrik asks: “Working at Pixar, do you take ownership of the movie you are working on or do you feel like a cog in a giant machine?”

Topic of the Week – Do On-Line Views Matter?

Colin’s had a successful batch of on-line releases. They’re all worth checking out.

“En Route” 40k views

“The Secret Number” 127k views

“Sintel” 4.5 Million views

  • Did the on-line views on your movies help you get a job at Pixar?
  • Why do views matter?
  • How do you get views on your films? PR? Built in Audiences?
  • Colin analyzes the release of Sintel and why it did so well.
  • What do you think makes for a successful on-line short film?

“What I want to believe is that good work rises to the top. I want to believe that if you make something just amazing, that people will see it. And that might not be true.”

  • What makes a film “go viral”? We theorize on why films get passed around.
  • How important is the first minute of two of your short film?
  • Why do views matter? Getting heat. Industry interest.
  • What’s the formula for getting people to see your film? Alrik and Timothy share their story on getting Over My Dead Body written about in so many places. Here’s a complete list of the writeups for Over My Dead Body:

Daily Short Pick on Film Shortage

Ain’t It Cool News – Saturday Shorts

Dread Central – Seasonal Treats…/seasonal-treats-bonus-watch-…/

ViddSee Buzz…/

The Local Film Network

Limited Release

The Blogging Banshee…/10/22/over-my-dead-body-sh…/

The Girl Who Loves Horror…/short-and-sweet…

Horror Sho…/over-my-dead-body.html…

Geek Art Gallery…/short-film-over-my-dea…

The Slaughtered Bird…/


My Zombie Blog

  • Colin talks about botching The Secret Number release and we discuss Vimeo vs YouTube.
  • How do you take industry interest and do something with it? Colin talks about getting interest after the release of “Sintel” and talks about why nothing happened. Why it’s important to be prepared for the heat.
  • How work experience shapes your point of view as a filmmaker. From Colin’s time at Pixar to Quentin Tarantino’s time at a video store. These life experiences change the way we approach film and that’s a good thing.

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  • Timothy Plain

    This was such an inspiring conversation and really has me thinking about my next short film (or feature). I have always tried for greatness but seem to fall short. Why? Colin makes it look easy (which is why I hate him) but he also gives me hope that it is possible to achieve. I’m already thinking about my next project differently and I’m so excited to apply the learnings from our conversation to the next one.

    • Yeah, it’s really an interesting thing to think about. I mean, obviously all shooting for greatness, but what separates the great films from the ones that didn’t end up so great? Great is obviously also subjective but does the amount of views show us what’s great and what’s not? I don’t think so but I mean, it sure shows us something, right? I think how I quantify how to reach for greatness, based on talking to Colin and watching his films, is really not settling or compromising. In talking about his opening sequence for En Route with the plane crash, I mean that VFX sequence (and all the VFX’s for that matter) are up to a level of quality that it just helps to draw us into the story and overall create a level of production design that a lot of films lack. Colin might disagree but I think his ability to push for greatness and not compromise is why those shots look so good, it his high standards and confidence to shoot for greatness which is what leads to his success. At least partially. But yeah, for the record Timothy, just because OMDB hasn’t gotten 100k views (yet) doesn’t mean it’s not great little movie in it’s own right. What do you folks out there think?

  • This was a disturbing episode. I have this picture in my head of Pixar being a playground for grownups with skittles and unicorns and it turns out it’s just a regular workplace where people work really hard. Dream crushed.

    Hmm, if you think about it YouTube is not only bigger, but it’s the preferred referral for Google searches which is pretty huge.

    Super informative and fun interview, great job!

    • Yes, sorry to say that Pixar is just like everywhere else, except that they make really really cool stuff. Thanks for the comment, Marc. Good point on YouTube. I also found out that YouTube has a really good recommendation engine that I think helps get movies in front of the right people. I also know I’m more likely to watch multiple YouTube videos in a row based on how they populate videos whereas Vimeo is usually a one-and-done stop for me.

      • Vimeo is great for the artits community but I’m thinking thinking that pretty much every TV these days can play YouTube videos but not Vimeo. With Apples TVs and Rokus in the game, it could be huge if you get featured on YouTube.

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Very interested to hear about the background operation of the teams at Pixar. Thank you for the mention in this post too. Over my dead body was amazing. Colin sounds like a great guy!

  • Ninna Dolce

    Very inspiring video conversation, this was very informative and helpful, very good work!
    Best Regards,
    Ninna recently posted: watching free movies online

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