You know online video is starting to mature when its even influencing Tinseltown. Federico Alvarez, an unknown filmmaker from Uruguay, has landed a $30 million budget to make a Hollywood blockbuster purely based on a short film he uploaded to YouTube.
YouTube & Upwards
YouTube in particular, and online video in general, is fast becoming a means of gaining fame, popularity, and wealth. We’ve seen the people behind certain viral video hits make a mint from their content creation.
Lauren Luke started off uploading short make-up tips on YouTube and is now an in-demand make-up artist. And Lucas Cruikshank has already made a load of money for his ever-popular Fred shorts and is currently involved in making a movie based on the petulant man/boy.
However, the story of how Federico Alvarez landed a huge Hollywood deal beats those hands down.
Ataque de Panico!
This is Ataque de Panico!, or Panic Attack in English. It’s a short film of just 4:49 minutes length, and around a minute less than that once the credits are removed.
It was made by Federico Alvarez, a relative unknown filmmaker even in his native Uruguay, on a budget of just $500. It shows the invasion of Montevideo by giant robots and flying ships, which starts through the eyes of a child and ends with total destruction.
The video was uploaded to YouTube and spread around the Web like wildfire. And it wasn’t long before a host of the biggest names in Hollywood came calling to offer Alvarez a deal to bring his vision and skills to the big screen.
Alvarez ended up agreeing a deal with Mandate Pictures after a phone conversation with director Sam Raimi, eschewing even meeting with the likes of Dreamworks, Fox, Warner, and The Weinstein Company in the process.
Now, Alvarez has been handed a $30 million budget to make his film (not a longer version of Panic Attack but still involving big robots), a $1 million director’s fee, and new apartments and cars in L.A. for him and his girlfriend. And all for producing a five-minute short and uploading it to YouTube.
This story reads like a work of fiction, surely being too dreamlike to be real. But the likes of Variety, FilmJunk, and SlashFilm are carrying the story, proving it’s actually happened in the way being reported.
This is a stunning victory for YouTube and online video. It’s changed the lives of a few people and means Hollywood adds a new (possibly visionary) filmmaker to its midst. And if the movie ends up being as good as Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 then moviegoers will also benefit.