Would you pay $5 to watch a YouTube video?

YouTube this week begins a test to see if folks will pay to watch movies on its site.

The Web’s most popular video sharing site Friday will offer five films from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance Film Festival for a fee around $5 .  It’s a way, YouTube says, to bring more exposure to independent films. But it’s also a test to see if viewers will pay for content, YouTube says.

YouTube product manager Sara Pollack says the program is a response to the problems facing independent filmmakers. Too many movies are getting produced, with few places to exhibit them. For instance, she says of the 9,000 films shown at Sundance last year, only 53 found some form of distribution.

“The online audience is getting bigger and bigger, but the ad-supported model doesn’t always fit the needs of filmmakers,” she says

The videos will cost in the $5 range to watch — but Pollack says the exact price will be set by the filmmaker. YouTube will split revenues, but will give the lion’s share to the filmmaker, she says.

The Sundance Festival opens Friday in Park City, Utah, where YouTube execs will be visiting and networking with filmmakers.

The five Sundance films:

  • The Cove by Louie Psihoyo an underwater adventure about dolphin capturing in Japan.
  • Bass Ackwards by Linas Phillips , an improvised road trip.
  • One Too Many Mornings by Michael Mohan–the filmmakers describe it as a “coming of age comedy about two guys who are too old to be coming of age.”
  • Homewrecker by Todd and Brad Barnes–a comedy about a locksmith.
  • Children of Invention by Tze Chun–from 2009, about two orphans near Boston.

By Jefferson Graham – USA Today

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