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March 31 at 8:03am

Peter Dekom on The Reality Of Creator/Distributor/Audience Relationship

Collen Nystedt of MovieSet pointed this lecture (2/7) out to me via Facebook.  It’s not a pretty picture.

You have to skip the 4min corny intro, but amidst the doom mongering, Peter Dekom puts an interesting position out there. He describes the current industry situation as the “antichrist of independent filmmaking” (end of pt.3). Unfortunately he’s not referencing Lars VT either.  Dekom doesn’t put much stock on the long tail, but illustrates how the industry is built around movies that do well theatrically (pt.4).  Without theatrical success, there’s not much else that can happen from a business perspective with a film these days, he says.  So much for the hope of a VOD salvation…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_5lCDiDsOs

The main thrust is that our industry is in a serious disconnect from our audiences. It is clear that the model consumers like least is pay per use — yet Hollywood is still dedicated to this.  Dekom argues that we have to wake up both our business models and our copyright laws (and I wish he explored this latter part more) to adjust how people actually behave.  Embrace reality! Wake up and smell the instant coffee!!

[...]


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March 30 at 8:16am

In This Digital Age, What Is A Filmmaker?

Today’s guest post is from Chris Dorr.

Isn’t it curious in this age where more moving images get created and distributed digitally that there is this group of people who still call themselves “filmmakers”?  It seems a term that is so archaic, so analogue, so yesterday’s news. But is it any of these?

I think filmmakers look for three opportunities that truly define them as filmmakers.

They are:

[...]


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March 29 at 7:40am

The Rise No-Budget NYC. Good Machine ’97

I don’t even know what this was for, This was for something on WNYC called “Egg” produced by Jeff Folmsbee.  but I do know that my friend Dan McGuire was also heavily involved in the shooting and editing of it.

I co-founded Good Machine back in 1990. We made a lot of good films and had some good times too. Iget a big kick out of seeing glimpses of folks from so long ago: Mary Jane Skalski, Heta Paarte, Glen Basner, and James Schamus and Ang Lee.  Nothing like seeing those gigantic computers and roladexes too. Too think we could make a film without an iPhone…

It also feels so fresh to me.  The same drive and ideas that made Good Machine a good idea back then, holds true to this day.  Everything is new again. We founded that company on the idea of a no-budget film fund (okay micro-budget in today’s vernacular) could make money and build a better mousetrap in the process. That, and the fact that I had a good long list of directors who needed some help. Both those things still hold true.

Although I must admit I no longer have a Che poster behind my desk, although the Obama “Hope” won works as the same sort of litmus test.

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March 29 at 7:29am

The New Skills Needed For Participatory Culture

Okay this is old news, but it is still DAMN F’N relevant!

In 2005, via the MacArthur Foundation, Henry Jenkins released this white paper, pointing out that:

Schools as institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture; the greatest opporitunity for change is currently found in afterschool programs and informal learning communities. Schools and afterschool programs must devote more attention to fostering what we call the new media literacies: a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape. Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement.The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking.These skills build on the foundation of tradi- tional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom.

What Jenkins goes on to point out is needed among students, is also very much needed by anyone working in the film business, or desiring a full appreciation  of today’s film culture.

The new skills include:

Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery

Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes

Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content

Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.

Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities

Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal

Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources

Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities

Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information

Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

I want to make sure my son has all these skills in his arsenal as he starts middle school.  That said, if I ran an undergrad film school, this training would be part of the core curriculum.  At the grad level, it would be an entry requirement.

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March 25 at 7:56am

Film Courage’s Top 10 of March

My interview for Film Courage made their top ten of the month.  I seem to be perpetually stuck at number 5; I guess that is truly Middle-Of-The-Road, eh?

They’ve clearly got at least four people far more interesting than I, so check them out.  You can find  Jamin & Kiowa Winans of INK there, and Sobi’s Zak Forsman & Kevin Shah, amongst a slew of others.

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March 23 at 8:23am

University Challenged: Educational Approaches To Filmmaking

Today’s guest post is from James Fair.  I follow it with a note of my own in regards to the same subject.  James is a lecturer and filmmaker based at Staffordshire University in England. He graduated from Bournemouth University and University College Dublin. He believes that recent activities within his three universities point towards a fundamental difference in educational approaches towards filmmaking.

Two events happened quietly in the back rooms of a couple of English universities last week that indicate an interesting direction that is emerging within film disciplines of British universities; Staffordshire University decided to partner the 72 Hour Movie (link: http://www.72hourmovie.com) project at the Melbourne International Film Festival and Bournemouth University closed the first round of entries from alumni for a £100k budget film project (link: http://www.bsma.ac.uk ). These extra-curricular projects are flagships designed to illustrate just how relevant their courses are to industry, to future students and industry alike.

Nothing is unusual there, as many universities internationally have sought ways to engage with future students and industry in a variety of disciplines for years. However, [...]


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March 22 at 8:08am

Free Is Not Worth The Price (And Neither is $1.00!) Part 2 of 2

Today’s guest post, like yesterday’s, is from filmmaker Michael Barnard.  Yesterday, he covered how we slipped into our embrace of “free”.  Today, he writes of the deadly results.

I used to read Daily Variety online religiously. Now I don’t. When I click on my fifth article (or whatever the tipping point is) and am denied access, I resent it. Yet, I know that if Daily Variety does not succeed somehow, I am either going to have to become my own journalist (“JOURNALIST”, not merely an observer or repeater) or I am going to have to rely on agenda-laden, word-of-mouth bloggers.

This situation is also affecting indie filmmakers. Indie filmmakers have to deal with the very worst form of free: theft by piracy. They have to deal with distribution outlets that want their films for free. Even REDBOX, with their $1 DVD rental kiosks, a pet peeve of mine, is an enemy of the indie filmmaker.

The success of REDBOX comes from ripping off filmmakers. In fact, you have to admire REDBOX for achieving something few ever have: [...]


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