Heather Menicucci, Director, Howcast Filmmakers Program, is writing weekly guest posts for the YouTube blog on filmmaking in the digital age. This is her third post.

Every time I talk to a filmmaker, I learn about a new (often, just new-to-me) website for filmmakers I should check out. I email and text myself the links. Intent on eventually spending some time on the sites, I keep multiple tabs open on my browser. Needless to say, it’s hard to keep track of them all. I thought consolidating a list of the sites I’ve come across through recommendations, articles, and conferences would be helpful to me, and hopefully you, too. So, here I go, with one disclaimer: this list is not exhaustive. I tried to stick to key categories but if I wanted to cover everything cool going on on the web for filmmakers, I’d have to quit my day job. Got another recommendation? Share it in the comments below!

Sites to help you....be in the know

  • Filmmaker magazine Simply put, if you’re an independent film and video creator, and you’re not reading Filmmaker Magazine, or, dare I say a member of the Independent Feature Project, you are seriously missing out. Period.
  • IndieWire IndieWire is all the indie industry news -- big to small. Want to get some costume ideas based on movies of the year? Interested in the hoopla over NC-17 ratings and when they began? They’ve got a network of bloggers and you’ll soon find your favorites.
  • WorkBook Project Founded by Lance Weiler, WorkBook Project is not just articles and blog posts. It’s an open collaborative network that covers the most exciting creative work happening on the web. You can explore case studies, hear thought-provoking interviews, attend workshops, and pick up the tools you need to launch your own web or multi-platform project.
  • Cinematech Of all the things you can read of Scott Kirsner’s, I actually suggest his books, which you can download off his blog, linked here. Scott is out there talking with filmmakers about new technology and sharing all his knowledge along the way at festivals (I heard him at SXSW), conferences (he started The Conversation), and in his books, of which my favorite is Fans, Friends And Followers: Building An Audience And A Creative Career In The Digital Age.
....distribute
  • YouTube Rentals Obviously, you know about YouTube or you wouldn’t be here. But, are you familiar with YouTube rentals? I got to sit in on a talk about the feature at SXSW this year and I think it’s a really intriguing option for filmmakers looking to share short films and longer work and make some money on screening. It’s one way the web is putting distribution and monetization in the hands of creators by letting them control who watches and set the prices for their work.
  • Snagfilms Snagfilms distributes documentaries from longtime masters as well as emerging filmmakers. Viewers can watch free, and documentarians, who have historically had a difficult time getting wide distribution, can tap into a growing viewer network.
  • OpenIndie Started by Arin Crumley, OpenIndie, which is still in beta, aims to be a way for filmmakers to coordinate and launch their own theatrical screenings by connecting them with audiences and exhibitors directly. The exciting idea is based on the Crumley’s own distribution model for Four Eyed Monsters, which he co-directed.
...connect
  • ShootingPeople Want to know what projects others filmmakers are up to? Take a workshop? Find someone to animate your open sequence? Get a new gig? ShootingPeople is the place to network with other filmmakers online (and in person -- lots of cities host nights out for “shooters”).
  • Ning Hopefully you use Facebook and Twitter for things other than planning poker night. Both are excellent platforms for connecting with audiences and potential collaborators. You may not know about Ning though. With Ning you can create your own social network around your film, the topic of your film, or filmmaking in general. It’s a very turnkey solution for engaging with an audience and I think it offers a more dynamic experience for your fans and audiences than a blog alone.
....learn new tricks
  • CreativeCow When a filmmaker writes in with an editing question our Post team can’t solve we head to the CreativeCow forums. There is an unbelievable amount of expertise you can easily tap into.
  • Videomaker When a filmmaker writes in with a question about a camera or software, we head to Videomaker. They’ve also got a really nice stable of nuts and bolts tutorials on things like lighting and green screen.
  • NYVS I just learned about New York Video School and I think it’s going to be a really easy way to pick up new or polish up old skills. They’re building a comprehensive suite of “courses” that include videos on things like choosing a hard drive and uploading to YouTube.
...make some money
  • Kickstarter If you haven’t heard about Kickstarter yet, you may be spending too much time in the edit room. It seems like every week I see a new project being funded on Kickstarter in my Facebook feed...and I contribute. Kickstarter makes fundraising painless (compared to calling Mom and Dad or going to door-to-door) for the filmmaker and fun for the fans to take part in a project.
  • IndieGoGo IndieGoGo offers filmmakers another digital fundraising option and, now, through, access to some distribution platforms like iTunes and Netflex.
  • Howcast Emerging Filmmakers Program Hey, if I didn’t think we offer filmmakers an excellent way to get experience and pick up some extra cash, I wouldn’t be here. Many of our filmmakers call Howcast videos their “fun work.” If you’re familiar with our videos, you know we give filmmakers a ton of creative freedom -- it’s great for their reels and their pocketbooks. Also worth checking out:, TurnHere, Demand, and StudioNow who offer programs for freelancers with different projects, requirements, and rates.
....compete
  • OnlineVideoContests Though I’ve entered plenty and never won, I’ve always been a sucker for video contests. OVC is the place to find out who’s giving away $500 for a :30-spot and who’s doling out $10,000 for a 3-minute music video.
  • Withoutabox Long gone are the days of mailing VHS tapes in manila envelopes. Withoutabox has brought film festival application into the digital age. Apply, apply, apply way!
  • Filmaka Filmaka hosts monthly competitions that boast jury members like Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog -- a pretty unique chance for exposure among industry leaders.
  • Poptent Poptent works with some major brands to bring commercial work to filmmakers all over the world. Download the requirements and upload your video. If your work is selected by that brand you could be looking at a new client and a paycheck.
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Heather Menicucci, Director, Howcast Filmmakers Program, recently watched “Flower Warfare: Behind the Scenes." Come back next Friday for another session of our “Modern 101 for Emerging Digital Filmmakers."