The Thomas Beale Cipher on the new Atlantic Magazine Video Channel

short film imageThe Atlantic Magazine, esteemed general interest rag for the policy-elite, has extended its sights to internet video. Late last week saw the launch of a curatorial venture on the magazine’s prominent website, a new vision for its video page.

Print mags naturally don’t have a lot of video content. The Atlantic’s old video page was pretty pathetic, updated erratically with random fluff pieces. This, by the way, was actually a step up from some of its competitors; Harper’s doesn’t even do video! But, faced with the option of falling behind the times with little to no video, or shelling out to create video content that no one really wants to watch  à la The New Yorker, The Atlantic opted for a third way; collect awesome short media content from the web and supplement it with interviews and background info on both the creators and films.

Check out The Atlantic's Q&A with Andrew!

The Thomas Beale Cipher, the short film that site founder Andrew Allen and I made, was one of the launch’s featured films, and Andrew contributed his thoughts on the film to an interview conducted by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldeg, chief curator of the new video page. A former Producer of Viewer Generated Content at CurrentTV, Kasia tweets under the handle FakeTV. Here’s her blog entry introducing the new video page.

The Atlantic does the hosting and also sells advertising on the videos, so artist approval is required with a non-exclusive licensing deal. Filmmakers aren’t compensated, so that is a bummer, but we felt it was a good opportunity to get our film in front of an influential audience that, in all likelihood, has very little overlap with the filmmaker/web enthusiast crowd that drove the film’s success on Vimeo. A few of your SotW favorite filmmakers seem to have agreed; also included in the launch are Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is Remix docs, and those great short documentaries from California is a Place.

The use of web short film in conjunction with established content brands is experiencing a bit of an uptick, almost constituting a trend. The Economist Film Project has been a notable example, highlighting global short documentaries on multiple platforms, web and TV. Andrew Sullivan, the famous political blogger who, when he worked for The Atlantic almost single-handedly created their web audience, still publishes a choice Vimeo Staff Pick nearly every day through his series “Mental Health Break”. Our hope is that this movement, with The Atlantic’s project being the most ambitious entry so far, can succeed in introducing new consumption habits to millions of people by leveraging strong existent content brands and coupling them with strong curatorial voices to create new short film fans. That, to me, is still step number one in making short media more viable for creators.

Watch: The Thomas Beale Cipher on the new Atlantic Video Channel