What is Fourthwall?

Fourthwall brings filmmakers and audiences closer together in two ways: first, by distributing films via its online independent multiplex, and second, by giving audiences access to films' raw materials so they can re-edit and re-create with them.


As the price of filmmaking equipment has plummeted, it has become easier and easier to make a film. Unfortunately, it's no easier to find an audience with a particular film, since the bottleneck has shifted from production to distribution. The vast majority of films made never get distribution of any kind--not theatrical, not cable, not video. If you see them at all, you see them at film festivals, where they typically play just once or twice. Fourthwall wants to address this problem. Any filmmaker who releases his or her film under a Creative Commons license will get free on-line hosting from the Internet Archive. This means that people interested in a particular film can find it and watch it online. As the amount of content grows, we'll add navigation features that allow people to find new directors and new films they might like. It's all part of an effort to make great films--the majority of which never get distribution of any kind--available for viewing outside film festivals.


Everyone knows what it's like to edit a sentence; it's easy to appreciate innovative writing because we all know what it's like to rearrange words on a page. But most people have no idea what it means to edit a movie. Fourthwall gives filmmakers the option to put up their raw footage so people can play with it. Someone can re-edit a scene to make it play a different way, then compare it to the director's cut. Or someone can focus in on a particular actor's performance, appreciating what they did from take to take, or even within the unseen parts of a particular take. Maybe you just want to learn how the editing process works, and use the material to play around. Or maybe you want to do something with the footage no one's ever thought of. Whatever the idea, Fourthwall brings the audience further into the film by showing you the raw materials. Audience members will appreciate the choices that the director made in editing by seeing the choices he or she could've made, but didn't.

So come in. Watch. Interact. Really get into the films, as we break down the fourth wall between artist and viewer.

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Open Source Cinema

Hello all, and thanks David for inviting me to blog here at 4th wall. My name is Brett Gaylor, and I'm a documentary filmmaker based in Montréal, Quebec. I've been interested in the idea of creating some sort of remixable film as well, similar to what musicians have been doing for some time.

Movies are a more difficult nut to crack mainly because of the bandwidth...their isn't as much stuff uploaded to work with, and not everyone has the speed to download, either. I'm taking about raw film material, ie rushes of film that other filmmakers can download and remix. There is plenty of video on the net, some released with Creative Commons licenses (like the amazing Prelinger Archives), but no filmmakers (untill now) have put up any source footage online in the same way, say, OpSound or Loca Records have.

With my next film, Basement Tapes, I plan to put all of my source material on a site, for anyone to download, and leave this footage open to interpretation. I also plan to have certain sections of the film specifically left in the hands of open-source filmmakers, to test out the idea. I imagine I would run a contest around a theme, similar to what Creative Commons did with their Moving Image Contest. Basement Tapes will have certain historical sections, and it is these sections I imagine will be left open to the treatment. So, for instance, a historical sequence on the birth of radio could be created using some footage that I shot, mixed with Prelinger Archive material, plus music the filmmaker shot, with some photos they found, etc.

I'm still not sure how to go about all this, however, and I'm looking for other filmmakers thinking along the same lines. I've created a beta website, www.opensourcecinema.com, that I'm hoping will spark some discussion around the concept. Please visit and give your thoughts!

Hope to see you there, and here at 4th wall.


Posted by Brett at 09:53 AM

Why I haven't been blogging lately

In a word--or 3--law school exams.

The site will be basically silent, unless recently authorized author Brian Flemming finds some time. Hey, who knew people not in law school were busy?

In case it makes you all feel any better, my hardest class is being taught by Mr. (Professor?) Creative Commons himself, Larry Lessig.

Talk to you in a couple of weeks.

Posted by davidball at 11:42 AM

HONEY is up at the Archive!

Hey everybody--just wanted to let you know that Honey is up at the internet archive. You can watch it here, at the Honey Program details page. Thanks to Stew, Jon, and Brewster at the archive for making all of this happen. This is really just the first part--I'm hoping to upload the SXSW presentation next.

One caveat, which I mention as part of the learning experience--Joe Neto and I exported the movie with a "continuous data rate" setting, which got us kind of a weird bitrate. Turns out it would've been easier for the Archive if we'd just done a standard bitrate and not worried about file size. For those of you keeping score at home, thumbnails are only generated from 64kb and 256kb Quicktime files...

UPDATE: I'd suggest saving the file and then playing it back, rather than streaming it. Not to sound like a finicky auteur or anything, but it's hard to maintain narrative flow when you're waiting an indeterminate time for the next frame to start. Plus, you get synch problems streaming it.

Posted by davidball at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

More on Xiph

As I mentioned a few posts back, I was approached by Manuel Lora from Xiph about a project of theirs called Theora. Here's what he said.

Xiph.org is a non-profit, standards body organization whose purpose is to provide free, open and royalty-free Internet-friendly multimedia technology. Perhaps you've heard of Ogg Vorbis. It's an audio compression codec that was developed by Xiph... However, the one that applies to the topic at hand is Theora (http://www.theora.org).

Theora is our lossy video compression technology. It is a modern codec and is also completely free for any use.

Continue reading "More on Xiph"

Posted by davidball at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

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