Rossellini unsure if films can make money online

Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:31pm EDT
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By Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While Isabella Rossellini enjoyed her foray into new media with her short films about insect sex, she is not sure they could turn a profit, given that so much content is available on the Internet for free.

While a strike by screenwriters recently brought television and movie production to a halt over the issue of Internet royalties, actors and directors are also concerned about what they should earn for work distributed online, Rossellini told a panel discussion at New York's Tribeca Film Festival.

"It is unclear how the money comes back," said Rossellini, 55, who wrote, directed and featured in a series of short films about the sex life of insects called "Green Porno" that were made for the screens of cell phones, iPods and laptops.

Rossellini, who after years of acting and modeling is one of the world's most recognizable faces, said it was easy for her to be experimental with the backing of Robert Redford and the Sundance Channel, but added she was still trying to work out how to make money in new media.

Her 20 minutes worth of short films cost $70,000 to make, out of which she paid herself $3,000.

"My agent won't like me saying this, but I have a lot of time on my hands and I have money saved from my modeling days, so I can work for very little money, I have that possibility," she said. "But I do feel sorry for people who try to make a living out of this because the money's not there."

Rossellini said she was particularly protective of artists given that her mother, Ingrid Bergman, was paid a modest salary while working on the hit "Casablanca" movie and never saw a penny in royalties.

After the damaging 100-day strike by screenwriters ended in February, major Hollywood studios and the main actors' union are now in contract talks that also feature the issue of Internet royalties.   Continued...

<p>Isabella Rossellini smiles during a presentation of the film "The Feast of the Goat," based on a novel by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in Lima March 28, 2006. REUTERS/Daniel Silva</p>