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by ornana films
Over three years ago we started having conversations delving into the story that ended up on screen at South by Southwest in March and is now on Vimeo in full, for free. Between those points, we spent thousands of hours working through this story to turn it in to a film. However, I think the more interesting part is not what we did, but what we didn’t do. [...]
A year ago (May 15, 2009) I wrote a blog post ” 38 American Independent Film Problems/Concerns”.Unfortunately, all of the problems I listed then still stand today; four or so from that list have improved slightly, but they certainly remain issues. Of more concern is that the list keeps growing and growing. I can contribute another 38 even more pressing issues today. You do the math: we now have over 75 things wrong with our industry that we are not taking action to fix.
In fact, we have no one to blame for this list but ourselves. It is our inability to be proactive that has brought on us this terrible state. Ask yourself what currently concerns and frustrates you about where film culture and the film business are today. What heights is our industry capable of reaching and how does it compare to where we actually are? Do we really have the capacity to sit and wait to get there? Isn’t our silence delaying the trip?
I must admit that I am a bit disappointed that I had no difficulty adding another thirty-eight items to this list of where we are failing. The exciting part (and why #38 of last year ‘s list was “lists like this make the foolish despair”) is that these lists demonstrate a tremendous opportunity for those willing to break from the status quo and take action. Things may be wrong, but they could always be worse. From here, we just have to work together to make it better. It is that simple. Every deficit is an opportunity for the creative entrepreneur, right?
So how has the film biz continued to reveal itself to be troubled this year? What do I suggest we start to focus on, discuss, and find solutions for? This list is a start, and I wager we will expand it substantially in the days ahead.
- We cannot logically justify any ticket price whatsoever for a non-event film. There are too many better options at too low a price. Simply getting out of the house or watching something somewhere because that is the only place it is currently available does not justify a ticket price enough. We still think of movies as things people will buy. We have to change our thinking about movies to something that enhances other experiences, and it is that which has monetary value. Film’s power as a community organizing tool extends far beyond its power to sell popcorn (and the whole exhibition industry is based on that old popcorn idea).
- The Industry has never made any attempt to build a sustainable investor class. Every other industry has such a go-to funding sector, developed around a focus on the investors’ concerns and standardized structures. In the film biz, each deal is different and generally stands alone, as opposed to leading to something more. The history of Hollywood is partially defined by the belief that another sucker is born every minute. Who really benefits by the limited options for funding currently available other than those funders and those who fee those deals? We could build something that works far more efficiently and offers far more opportunity. [...]
Today’s guest post is from producer Smriti Mundhra. I confess I have been slow in my posting and should have run this last week!
If the sun came out in New York City this past Saturday, I didn’t see it. Instead, I spent the day in Columbia University’s Uris Hall with about two hundred fellow filmmakers participating in The Conversation, an all-day conference about the future of independent film funding, marketing and distribution. There was a lot to talk about.
The program for The Conversation consisted of panels, discussion groups and breakout sessions, each featuring both indie fllm stalwarts (Eugene Hernandez, Scott Macaulay, Bob Hawk) and new media trailblazers (Lance Weiler, Arin Crumley). But it was Ira Deutchman, CEO of Emerging Pictures and professor at the university’s graduate school of film, who dropped the first bomb in his opening remarks when he quoted a businessman with whom he recently had lunch: “Film? That’s not a business, that’s a hobby.”
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: [...]
Today’s guest post is from filmmaker Michael R. Barnard. Michael had written to me on Facebook after I had tweeted about the end of film industry trade papers. I felt he had some interesting thoughts on the subject, and the bigger issue for filmmakers on the “free” economy. Today’s post is 1 of 2, with tomorrow’s set to look at the inevitable end from the culture’s embrace of “free”.
The New York Times reports on the malaise hitting the very-important-to-Hollywood trade papers, especially Daily Variety. (See online at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/business/media/15variety.html?src=twt&twt=nytimesmovies)
Daily Variety is suffering the fate of many news publishers (even the New York Times), but attracts attention because of its reactions to its problems. This important trade paper recently fired staff critics, now favoring freelance critics. The paper is also one of the first to duck behind a paywall. You can no longer read the entire paper online free.
Everyone, including me, chafes at this. [...]