"I Still Believe" is a great example of how a movie can be released online. The movie has been in development for quite some time and its release was kept to keep the intellectual property of the film from being destroyed by the studio. This is not the norm as online distribution works more like a series of trailers, then a traditional release.
The movie was filmed over a two year period at what is known as a "mockumentary" style. The movie's cast and crew recorded themselves participating in interviews and playing roles as they related their lives during this time period. The audio clips that they recorded have been edited together to form a feature length movie. The "tapes" were then uploaded to online sites where consumers could view them.
The movie was also called "mockumentary" because the actors were taped telling a story on camera in a manner that evoked a documentary type production. The finished product is a movie with some funny bits thrown in. The movie is intended to make a powerful, but serious point about the politics of self-worth that is central to the movie. The entire production was done in a cost effective manner with a minimum of physical labor and expenses.
Online distribution for the movie worked a bit differently than the one for a traditional movie. The producers released a trailer to a number of online sites where people could download the clip in order to experience the trailer for themselves. The trailer was actually the first three minutes of the movie, then a second scene appeared for viewers to watch if they liked what they saw. These viewers were the movie's intended audience.
The other way in which the movie was made available to online audiences was by way of a video website. When people downloaded the movie clip, they could access it either directly from the site or by viewing it through the browser. The Internet is a dynamic medium and this type of distribution had to work the same way.
While many viewed the preview of the movie online as a useful tool, a smaller percentage of the actual movie's viewers accessed the trailer and the movie from the website. Many thought the previews were a waste of time and either just watched the movie on their television set. However, there were also those who spent hours trying to watch the trailer only to be frustrated by poor quality service and unreliable downloading speed.
The movie's progress through online distribution was also fairly slow. When a film reaches a specific platform, then the distribution system typically figures out how to serve that platform. It is not uncommon for movies to take a few months to reach the various online platforms before being made available.
In general, when looking at how a movie can be made available to the public online, these types of distribution channels are more for testing the market and getting out the word. It is much more common for the entire movie to be available in the form of a video on demand download. They offer audiences a way to see the finished movie without necessarily seeing it in the theater.