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Will Ferrell Hits the Web

posted by Douglas Howe

Will Ferrell just made a new movie for free, and 30 million people have already seen it. What? You didn’t see the trailer? You didn’t hear the build-up? Not much talk about it on E! or Premiere?

Welcome to a new trend that could be really cool or could fade really fast.

According to today’s New York Times (business section, not movies!), Ferrell, “who commands up to $20 million for movies like ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Blades of Glory,’” spent about 45 minutes making a little web-based movie shot by his production partner (Adam McKay) with a camcorder. It’s called “The Landlord” and was posted on the new site FunnyOrDie.com as of April 12.

FunnyOrDie.com is sort of like a YouTube but there’s way less stuff (which means way more of it is actually funny) and that mainstream actors (like Farrell) are willing to appear there. In fact, “many experienced comedians, talent agents and financiers are seeing the Web as a way to showcase talent while trying to turn a profit.” The project is financed by Sequoia Capital, an early investor in Google and YouTube.

I’m hoping that it not only becomes what the profitmakers see (a chance for profit and/or promotional opportunity for the studio-backed talent) but also a chance for faith-based industry members to take some chances and engage their talents in what they really believe, for audiences young and old that would be positively influenced. The movie industry is so organized and manipulated around profit, so it’d be nice if one medium could survive and do well while not falling into the same artistically claustrophobic traps that have controlled the big screen and small screen for far too long.

Meanwhile, as the Times story said, “this being Hollywood, Mr. Ferrell and Pearl have already shot a sequel!” So check out FunnyOrDie.com if you don’t have time to search YouTube for quality stuff, and join me in praying that faith-based material from big-name talent makes it on there as well. Considering the success of “Left Behind,” “The Purpose-Driven Life,” “The Passion of the Christ,” etc., what a wonderful opportunity for Sequoia and team to not only make some money but to make a difference as well!



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