geert wachtelaer & daniela ratkajec

audiovisual art projects & audiovisual network platform


What is the plugin manifesto ?

First came the DOGME 95 manifesto, where a collective of film directors founded in Copenhagen in spring 1995 expressed the goal of countering 'certain tendencies' towards 'cosmetics' over content in the cinema today, they remarked, "Today a technological storm is raging, the result of which will be the ultimate democratisation of the cinema." We agree, and now the online film website is launching the pluginmanifesto, where filmmakers are asked to take advantage of the digital technology revolution.

The manifesto aims to create a definitive framework that filmmakers can use to produce films specifically for the Internet, to work with the medium, to see technological limitations as a creative catalyst. While traditional film was hijacked very early on in its career, filmmaking for the Internet is at a truly exciting time.

Currently, very little exists that has been designed for viewing on the Net. The difference is in the manifest aim of the film, whether it be to communicate and inform as well as entertain, or whether the overriding aim is to make money.

It's time to reclaim film!


the pluginmanifesto version 1.3

This is a copyleft document detailing plugincinema's manifesto on filmmaking for the Internet; the pluginmanifesto. This means you have considerable scope to copy, distribute and evolve this manifesto! The full terms that copying and modifying this document are subject to, is that of the Design Science Licence (DSL) by Michael Stutz ( Please send your modified manifestos to us at plugincinema ( so we can add your contribution to the pluginmanifesto homepage. For further information see either or

It is currently far easier to describe what an online film is not than what it is...

Films are familiar to us all, Hollywood films at least. So much so that it is difficult for us to think about film in any other terms. So we must start with experimentation; play with the conventions. Allow yourself the freedom to move in and out of them, adapting them, using them where appropriate. Freed from prescription, it is easier to see the other possibilities open to us in terms of form and structure as well as content.

A film made for viewing on the Internet is not 1½ hours long.

The traditional length of a film seems right somehow. Much longer and we become restless, much shorter and we feel cheated. Plays also last the same approximate length of time. However, it is the viewing context that seems to be the most important element. The short film (10 to 15 minutes) seems an ideal length for the Internet. It is the length of time we want to stop for a coffee at work, the length of time we spend having a smoke, or the length of time we don't mind spending on a film we don't find easily accessible.

It does not have to have a narrative - structure can come from a variety of means.

Narrative evolved as an intrinsic part of Hollywood filmmaking. Examine other filmmakers such as Deren, Vertov, Godard and Brakhage to see how they structured their films outside the Hollywood narrative tradition. Structure can be created in many ways using colour, music, chapter headings etc. as a shape from which you can hang the images. Or the structure can simply emerge from within the film, by allowing the content to shape itself.

Forget can be art!

It was decided very early on in Hollywood that films were products and not art. Independent filmmakers and artists have always known this to be wrong and have made films with genuine artistic merit. This usually takes place outside of the traditional studio system, although sometimes it happens from within. Film was hijacked very early on in its career. Claim it back! The difference is in the overt aim of the film: to communicate and inform as well as entertain, or to make money.

Limitations can be creative - if you do not have a wind machine, use a fan. If you do not have the bandwidth, do not expect the cinema.

Filmmaking on the Internet is at a truly exciting time. Currently, very little exists that has been designed for viewing on the Net. Much has been carried across from other mediums e.g. TV and film. This is not good. It means that the work being shown cannot be appreciated in the form it was originally intended. It also does web films a disservice because audiences complain about the lack of 'quality': their expectations are for the traditional film, seen in its familiar context.
In the same way that film found its own form in relation to the theatre, and TV in relation to film, the web filmmaker needs to search for the appropriate form for films on the Internet. It is incumbent upon the independent filmmaker to be at the forefront of these new technologies less they be subsumed by the media conglomerates. Independent filmmakers, geeks and artists have an ideal opportunity to experiment and push these technologies creatively.

Use Codecs and compression creatively.

Use the tools that are appropriate for the job. Filmmaking for the Internet is not filmmaking for the cinema. We should be taking the tools invented for the medium such as Flash, .html, compression algorithms etc. and pushing them to see what they can do in creative terms; our creative terms. That is the job of the filmmaker and artist. The camera and celluloid defined films for the cinema; computers and the Internet will define media for the new millennium.

Filmmakers and Geeks should be friends.

Filmmakers, in order to be good at their craft, have always had to have a certain level of technical knowledge. Many of the short films appearing on the Internet have been made by those familiar with the technology, rather than traditional filmmakers. This is good. However, how much better would those films be if people who had spent their lives learning the craft got together with people who could make the technology work for them? Co-operative and artistic endeavours, the clash of assumptions, and traditional ways of doing things can produce surprising and challenging new work.

Never forget the medium and the viewing context.

Above all, don’t believe the hype! Convergence is certainly happening but the potential of these mediums is just being glimpsed. What is made for the Internet now can enlighten the forms of the future. The challenge is to create these forms now. This is not a televisual system that sits in the corner of our living rooms, but the Internet: a huge system of information storage and retrieval for individual users, with no centralised control. Seize the day and make your work available to millions of people. Be part of shaping the world’s next, great art form.

Copyleft DSL ( / plugincinema /


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