Readers who have been following the expansion of the online cinema industry may be considering becoming internet movie moguls themselves. But how? Well, everything you need to become one is available on the Net. But you might not make any money from your online films. That's because no one else is.
The first thing an aspiring movie mogul needs is an office - preferably one inside the compound of a well-known studio for added credibility.
Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Virtual Studio (www.zoetrope.com) provides just the thing: there, you can open a virtual office and schedule meetings with any other writers, producers and crew members who have virtual offices on the lot. What's more, it's rent-free - there's no charge for registering at Zoetrope.
Budding moguls should note that it's impossible to meet Coppola - who launched Zoetrope as a real world studio before he ran out of money - on the virtual lot: you can only meet with other virtual studio residents like yourself.
The next thing that a virtual movie mogul needs is a big Rolodex. Moguls can find a ready-made virtual Rolodex at imdbpro.com.
This is the professional version of the Internet Movie Database (imdb), and features a hit-and-miss collection of contact numbers for actors, directors, writers, agents and producers. It isn't free, but the information is well worth the fee of US$12.95 per month.
As a movie mogul, much of your time will be spent dealing with the fine print of contracts. There aren't any online entertainment lawyers - they wouldn't get to meet hot actresses if they operated that way - but you can find Kelly Charles Crabb's book The Movie Business: The Definitive Guide to the Legal and Financial Secrets of Getting Your Movie Made on amazon.com. It tells you all you will ever need to know about movie contracts. In fact, it tells you so much you may decide to do something else instead - such as become a bus driver or a policeman.
As a virtual movie mogul you will be spending so much time eating virtual lunches and sleeping with members of your virtual staff, you won't have time to write a script. Thankfully, www.inktip.com provides the solution.
After providing proof that you aren't Roman Polanski, you can read through online scripts posted by virtual screenwriters that have paid a fee to be listed. Take heart, steel yourself, and then hire a virtual intern to do the reading.
You never know - you may find a script to rival Land of the Lost lurking there.