Though best known as a talented, multi-faceted actor, Mekhi Phifer (“Lie to Me”, Spike Lee’s Clockers, Dawn of the Dead) has a new, exciting venture ahead of him, as co-founder of the recently launched thirdREEL.com. The site offers independent moviemakers the unique opportunity to showcase their latest feature or short film for free. On thirdREEL.com, moviemakers can upload their work (be it any genre, from documentaries to horror films) directly onto the site. If you’re looking for an easy, affordable way to have your work exposed to a wide audienfce and create buzz, thirdREEL.com is the place to go.
MM recently caught up with Phifer (who, in addition to acting, has expanded to directing and producing) to discuss thirdREEL.com and the many benefits it offers indie moviemakers.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): What was the genesis of thirdREEL.com?
Mekhi Phifer (MP): About two years ago my cousin, Sly Phifer, and I came up with the idea of thirdREEL.com as a way to revolutionize the way filmmakers distribute their content to the masses—a platform from which content creators can showcase their films, breathe new life into their work and, in some cases, get their projects sold.
MM: What does thirdREEL.com offer that other sites geared toward independent moviemakers do not?
MP: Our service is 100% free, with no fees required for storage, serving or video bandwidth. ThirdREEL.com doesn’t own any part of the films, and we don’t look for kickbacks or share in any of the revenue if your film gets sold. Our primary goal is to find new talent and help filmmakers get discovered. Secondly, thirdREEL.com aims to be a clutter-free environment. Unlike some of our competitors, we have a laser focus on feature and short films that we have sorted by genre in our main navigation bar.
We also showcase the talents of directors, actors, writers, cinematographers and editors in our section dedicated to actor reels and demo reels. Our intent is to maintain a site that is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Lastly, we are actively encouraging acquisition executives, distributors, casting directors, agents, managers and directors to visit thirdREEL.com regularly and search for the next breakout filmmaker, actor, director, producer or anyone else involved in the making of a film.
MM: How do you think this kind of exhibition platform benefits moviemakers?
MP: While most moviemakers have mastered the skills to shoot, direct and edit films, few have cracked the difficult code of establishing a following and finding distribution. An estimated 6,000-7,000 films are made every year in the US alone, yet less than 5% get distribution. Distributors are in business to make money and they must be able to sell your film to audiences. As a filmmaker, you are responsible for building buzz around your film and establishing an audience. ThirdREEL.com is a thriving exhibition platform where moviemakers can build that audience, establish a following and create buzz around their projects.
MM: Do you think it’s possible that posting a well-received feature or short film on the site could lead to a studio offer?
MP: Absolutely! That is our goal: To get theater distribution for independent moviemakers. The larger the audience they accumulate, the more attractive they will be to distributors. A built-in audience means a quicker path to revenue.
MM: Ideally, what are your hopes for the site? How do you see it changing or evolving over time?
MP: Our hope is that we can help filmmakers get their projects sold by showcasing their films on thirdREEL.com. That being said, we are building a community, so we need movie fans and moviemakers to support the independent film there by watching, rating, Facebook sharing and tweeting about the films. The primary goal is to level the playing field for independent moviemakers.
MM: In terms of content/style/etc., what does the ideal thirdREEL.com film look like?
MP: ThirdREEL.com is a thriving exhibition platform for the independent filmmaker seeking strong, innovative exposure. This is our way of giving back to the film and TV community. By showcasing films, we give moviemakers a platform, a showcase and a thriving community that the entire world is watching. We have visitors coming to our site from the US, Brazil, Argentina, the UK, France, Spain, and Australia, just to name a few. We don’t aim to be critics; we are open to all types of content, opinions, culture and style. Every film can have an audience. That being said, we don’t accept poor quality video or sound, nor do we host any form of pornography.
MM: How does the site play into your own moviemaking efforts—both as an actor and producer? [Phifer’s producing credits include This Christmas and Business as Usual: The Exploitation of Hip Hop.]
MP: Well, first and foremost, I’ve always been a huge fan of film. But the problem with the film industry, in my opinion, is that audiences are bombarded with the same old themes and the same old stars. Studios are not risk takers. So as of late, I find myself more and more disinterested in seeing a lot of films, especially in theaters. When I look at a film, I want to be intrigued and want to have an experience that allows me to walk away from it thinking “Wow, that was creative and entertaining and I really enjoyed it”, even though Hollywood doesn’t think it can have an audience.
And that’s exactly what thirdREEL.com provides: A home for the independent filmmakers to build a real and tangible following that will show Hollywood that there is a magnitude of untouched talent out there that is being ignored. With thirdREEL.com, those days are coming to an end. I have many friends in the industry who have made indies and shorts that I enjoy, but they have no place to showcase what they can bring to the moviemaking community. Co-founding thirdREEL.com wasn’t about advancing myself as an actor/producer, but simply about being a fan of all sorts of films. And, quite frankly, I am tired of being held hostage by some Hollywood exec saying what I will and won’t like!
For more information, please go to http://thirdREEL.com.