Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery

One of the underlying narratives associated with Hollywood mythology is the “discovery story,” the idea that a talented newcomer emerges by chance, out of nowhere, to become a Hollywood “star.”  Lana Turner was  discovered, so the legend goes, on a barstool at Schwab’s drugstore.  Now, as the tools of filmmaking and film distribution have been democratized, those discovery stories have expanded to filmmakers as well.  And although it is the case that such stories can be read ideologically, it is also true that YouTube and other video sharing sites still offer us the opportunity to be astonished by the talents of an aspiring filmmaker.

One recent example is the story of Fede Alvarez, a post-production and visual effects specialist working in Uruguay.  Alvarez posted a short four-minute film, “Ataque de Pánico,” which depicts an attack on the Uruguayan city of Montevideo by a series of ginat robots and airplanes.  Major buildings in the city are reduced to rubble as fearful residents watch with a mixture of horror, fear, and excitement.  In addition to producing convincing visual effects, Alvarez successfully creates a sense of foreboding as we anticipate the attacks.  And he even throws in an allusion to the Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin for good measure.  In short, it’s the kind of moment we all hope for when talking about the possibilities made available by cheaper production and distribution tools: it is visually breathtaking and narratively compelling.

And thanks to the internet buzz over the film–the version I saw was posted to YouTube in November and has already been viewed over a million times–Alvarez is walking into Hollywood with a deal with Mandate Pictures  to support a $30 million film. As Patrick Goldstein points out, film festivals are now being eclipsed by YouTube as a site for discovering (and even nurturing budding filmmaking talent): “Today, the fastest way to spread the news is on the Internet,” adding that much of the early buzz about “Panic Attack” was taking place on Kanye West’s blog, of all places.  Goldstein also points out that Alvarez’s promotion has taken place largely outside of the major studio system, which has become less adept at discovering new talent.

As Goldstein cautions, a four-minute film tells us little about whether Alvarez will be able to deliver a feature-length story; however, the “buzz” surrounding his video already serves as an early form of marketing forthe film once it’s made.  In Goldstein’s words, Alvarez’s overnight success is just “another fascinating example of how Hollywood has gone viral.”  I’m looking forward to following this story as it unfolds in the coming months.

7 Comments »

  1. Topic 1.2: Film « December @ University Said,

    December 16, 2010 @ 10:28 am

    […] Tryon, C. (2009b). Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery. The Chutry Experiment. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259 […]

  2. Web 207 Essay 2: Before they know it, they turn Geek. | loulounillysthenextstep Said,

    January 26, 2011 @ 2:48 am

    […] Tryon, C. (2009b). Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery. The Chutry Experiment. Retrieved January 4, 2011from http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259 […]

  3. Laura H’s University Web207 media project | loulounillysthenextstep Said,

    February 16, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    […] Tryon, C. (2009a). Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery. The Chutry Experiment. Retrieved January 26, 2011, from  Curtin University of Technology http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259 […]

  4. Future of the Film Industry – A RWMC « Future of the Film Industry Said,

    February 17, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    […] Tryon, C. (2009). Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery. The Chutry Experiment. Retrieved January 29, 2011, from http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259. […]

  5. WEB207 – Web Media Project: Making Media | Interactive I.T. Designs Said,

    December 22, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    […] Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery by Chuck Tryon (2009) http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259. […]

  6. WEB207 – Web Media Project: Making Media | | Interactive I.T. DesignsInteractive I.T. Designs Said,

    January 23, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    […] Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery by Chuck Tryon (2009) http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259. […]

  7. Reflections on Tryon – Panic Attack | Study by Night Said,

    January 7, 2016 @ 11:21 pm

    […] Does Alvarez’s success with “Panic Attack” prove that anyone with a camera and a computer can finally make their way into Hollywood? (And should that be the goal for all filmmakers?) Tryon C. (2009b) “Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery”, The Chutry Experiement. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/?p=2259 […]

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