Louis C.K. self-distributes standup special

picPeter Kafka at AllThingsD covers the recent release of Louis C.K.'s standup concert directly from the comedian's web site.

The new twist here is the way his experiment changes video “windows” — which determine when shows and movies show up on different outlets. By going direct-to-fanfirst, C.K. doesn’t shut off his chance to end up working the Big Media Companies he says he doesn’t want to work with. He’s just making them wait. So the people who really love him can get it right away, and he can capture almost all of that value in the transaction.

Kafka points out that there's plenty of room for traditional distributors to get in on the action after the first "fan-only" release:

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that a million people pony up for the concert — basically, that is, everyone who watches his (great) show on News Corp.’s FX channel. (News Corp. owns this site, too.)

That’s a wildly optimistic estimate, and it will still be a fraction of the people that HBO, which has some 28 million subscribers, can reach. You can fault Big Media for a lot of things, but it remains pretty good at rounding up Big Audiences.

Filmmakers looking for validation in the DIY distribution model need look no further – the more experiments like this that we see, the more likely it is that distributors will look seriously at filmmakers who prove their worth by finding their own audience first and building a platform for bigger things later. While distributors have traditionally viewed DIY distributed films as damaged goods (perceiving the sales already out the door as missed opportunities for them), the model of building on previous success may become more common. Let's hope so.