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February 17 at 8:40am

Display Your Value: You Are Different From Them

By Ted Hope

I was reading on Estsy an article by Stacey Brooke that gives  recommendations to their community on how to help buyers recognize what they are getting when they purchase a hand-made item, and I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of it is readily applicable to the world of Truly Free Film. We are talking about hand-crafted personal work, not assembly line market-driven product. Truly Free Film is “a different thing entirely” from Hollywood.  Brooke sums it up well:

Your products aren’t the blue arugula created on an assembly line by workers paid far too little and shipped across the country to big box warehouses who take all the money and credit for your blood and sweat. You make things and sell things you put your soul into. You need to impart that message to your buyers. You need to show them — it’s a whole different thing.

What she discusses is also so true about truly free film.  Brooke & Etsy suggests to their sellers to document their process and post videos.  In the film world, this is our “behind the scenes” video.  Generally filmmakers just call this “additional content”.  Yet, as pointed on Etsy, these videos help audiences and buyers recognize why a work is distinct.

They encourage their community to “bolster their descriptions” about what they are selling, to explain the process in detail.  With a complex work like a feature film or cross-media project, this is not simple by any means.  Yet the more we understand what an artist set out to accomplish, what they discovered, what their influences were, how things shifted over time — the more we are allowed into the creative process — the more we will feel intimate with the artist(s).  The move we feel intimate with the artist(s), the more we are likely to promote  and curate their work.

I personally love it when film gets personal.  It’s one thing to do it with the content, but for me, being of the mind that cinema is really everything that surrounds a particular feature, it’s something a whole lot more, when the personal is illuminated in the process.  I love the post that Matthew Porterfield did about his film PUTTY HILL because it felt truly heartfelt for me.  It was intimate.  That is another thing that all these Kickstarter campaigns do for me: they keep it intimate.  I see their success and failure measured

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  1. doghouse / Feb 17 at 8:40am

    Ted, for the life of me, I don’t get it. The hand-made tradition in cinema has never sustained a professional life. If artisanal work is a new idea for mainstream narrative works, it’s anything but new for the so-called film avant-garde, going back to at least the 1930s — or for the countless number of people who for all of their adults lives have been painting, writing poetry, composing music, etc., with no prospect, none, of ever making a dime from the work and no prospect of getting mass-market exposure. Consider that Poetry Magazine used to get 90,000 submissions annually, but had all of 30,000 subscribers. Is that the brave new world of filmmaking? More creators than consumers?

    You yourself stopped producing garage budget projects many years ago — and who could blame you? Nobody can make a living doing it or finance future works doing it, and the kind of persuasive illusion that moviegoers expect today is all but out of reach with these limited resources.

    This may be the future of many would-be filmmakers, but is it really the future of cinema?

  2. Michael / Feb 17 at 8:40am

    But Ted’s not saying that films should be hand-made, or at least that’s not what I got from it. To me, what applies to indie film is the personal risk and collaborative nature of the filmmaking. This differentiates it from something more calculated towards profit, and in marketing the film it’s important to make that clear!

  3. tedhope / Feb 17 at 8:40am

    Yes, thanks for putting that a tad clearer for me, Michael.

  4. doghouse / Feb 17 at 8:40am

    Michael writes:

    “To me, what applies to indie film is the personal risk and collaborative nature of the filmmaking. This differentiates it from something more calculated towards profit, and in marketing the film it’s important to make that clear!”

    But that’s exactly what can no longer be marketed, because everyone in America is making movies. Not so long ago, audiences would pay to see a low or no-budget film simply because it violated Hollywood conventions and still managed to end up in a theater. The films themselves were almost beside the point. Or they’d see films like El Mariachi because they succeeded in reproducing Hollywood conventions on no money.

    But once this kind of novelty was exhausted, and the number of non-Hollywood films surpassed the number of Hollywood films, there’s nothing left to market except the films themselves.

    We certainly do want personal filmmaking. It’s just that there’s no sustainable market for it and given the costs of filmmaking, it’s hard to see how the effort can be sustained, short of the miracle that every filmmaker believes in.

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