Roger Corman and his wife, producer Julie Corman, have announced "Corman's Drive-In," a subscription YouTube channel where the two are curating thirty films at a time every month. The $3.99-a-month subscription channel features “Corman’s Take,” his commentary on each selected film, as well as curated film content.
“This channel will ultimately become the mecca for my over 400 film library,” Corman says. “It will also feature exclusive interviews with cast producers, directors, cameramen – anyone that we can think of that will talk about these films.” The channel will also have sneak previews of films that Corman is producing.
The 87-year old filmmaker began his career as a story analyst at MGM, and has always been ahead of the curve, making profitable low-budget hits. Corman was, in a sense, indie before the indie sensibility took hold culturally in the 1970s. Corman sold his first screenplay in 1953, and soon after produced the Monster from the Ocean Floor for $18,000. “Between 1954 and 1957 I was a bit out of control, I made 19 films,” he told Biography. In 1970, Corman started New World Pictures as a production and distribution company, growing it into the biggest American independent distribution company at the time. Filmmakers Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper were all given big initial breaks by Corman.
"What has saved us, really, is the emergence of these new markets."
Corman is, to put it mildly, a survivor. He would have to be to last this long in this thing of ours. He is quick to embrace new technological opportunities, like YouTube and even VOD. “Over the last 20 years or so the theatrical market for low budget films has declined to the point where you see only occasionally a low budget film with a theatrical release, and what has saved us, really, is the emergence of these new markets,” Corman told Biography recently.
Corman is a trendsetter - so could this be the beginning of a trend? There are so many other directors with a rich understanding of film history who could make amazing subscription channels on YouTube or elsewhere. Martin Scorsese, who has made it a life mission to not just make great movies but to explain the history of the art form, immediately comes to mind. So does Peter Bogdanovich, who operates much in the same tradition of Scorsese as artist as well as evangelist, and who loves to put the ladder down to younger filmmakers such as Noah Baumbach.
How about a Spike Lee or Quentin Tarantino subscription channel? Tarantino never gets tired of talking about his influences, and loves to promote filmmakers unknown to most Americans. Although it is hard to imagine someone like the reclusive Woody Allen taking to YouTube, embracing the technology, explaining his picks -- it would be nice. It is unlikely, but would be amazing. (And would definitely introduce Ingmar Bergman to a whole new generation.)
The younger and edgier directors, the ones unafraid of social media and this digital age in which we now live would probably be better at embracing fully the idea behind a YouTube subscription channel: Christopher Nolan, Kathryn Bigelow, Sarah Polley, Sofia Coppola. Darren Aronofsky would have an interesting subscription channel, so, one imagines, would Peter Jackson. Lars von Trier, never afraid to experiment, would also probably provide a fascinating curated experience.
Is Roger Corman’s Drive In the beginning of a trend? One can only hope.