Friday, September 05, 2008

Why Does it Have to be in Flux?

Scott Kirsner has a nice post this morning that came through my Google Reader regarding how the future of Indie Film will be decided by filmmakers and film festivals.

Scott proposes that film festivals play a greater role in shaping how a film does. To wit:

"I’d like to humbly suggest that film festivals need to play a different, more muscular role in helping filmmakers earn money from their creative endeavors."

That's all fine and good, but neglects one hugely significant fact - most independent films that are produced don't get into film festivals!

To borrow some information from Marc Rosenbush who has set himself and his film ZEN NOIR as examples of how filmmakers can market their film themselves via the web (he even teaches a seminar)* :

"But the grim reality is that most films will NEVER get a
distribution deal. And of those that do, only a tiny number
will get a deal that's actually worth having.

Think about it. 3,624 feature films were submitted for
consideration at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Of
those, only 121 were accepted. And of those, only 20 got
any kind of distribution deal.

So without even taking into account any films that weren't
submitted to Sundance, less than half a percent got sold."

I don't dispute Rosenbush's figures although, I am not 100% certain they are accurate to the percentage point. I do know that film festivals - unless they are huge and unless they yield big publicity - don't mean squat when it comes to landing a traditional distribution deal.

Getting a distribution deal means marketing. Packaging. It means having something to sell and knowing where the audience is for just such a movie. Everyone is saying that the indie business is in "flux"and I have to say that's crap.

We are simply automating techniques that have been around for years! It all SEEMS new, but IT ISN'T!

Instead of having to truck our indie films from town to town showing them in tents or church basements, or bars The Internet (Big "I") has simplified the process and made it available to folks other than traditional distributors. Look at some of the links in my "Marketing and Distribution" sidebar. You can arrange theatrical screenings for movies ( and get expert advice on how to market your film ( Costing you NOTHING (except your time and effort).

The internet (r)evolution for film distribution is the same as the invention of the rubber automobile tire - it's faster, more efficient and cheaper. It's not significantly different.

The term (and maybe I'm hung up on that) "flux" indicates some sort of turmoil. I have to say "not at all." This is a time of efficiency. Control. Entrepreneurial endeavor.

With the price of equipment and infrastructure dropping all the time, there is a tremendous opportunity for someone to reap the benefits of delivering inexpensive entertainment to the masses and using the power of the web to market it accordingly.

Because so many tools are available online or elsewhere - creative people now have more choices. That is - color changes, SFX, camera angles, lighting, editing, sound mixing and designing, locations, props, etc... which used to be expensive, are now just a click of a mouse. Production values of indie product is rising - dramatically.

That's not flux. It's technology and creativity merging.

So let's all just quit this mystifying the indie film process. Film-making is manufacturing a product just like any other business that's not service related. It happened in the industrial revolution, and it's happening now.

It's getting easier to physically do our jobs - that is develop and sell a product we call movies. Happens all the time.

We'll be in flux when the customer becomes the company... oh, but wait - that's already happened!

while I agree with many things that Rosenbush is saying, I am not in any way endorsing his seminar.

1 comment:

Scott Eggleston said...

That link to the story about "Threadless" is pretty amazing. Could a model like that (crowdsourcing) be applied to making movies? I know it's being tried with a feature currently, but what about short content? Could there be a market for customer-created "T-shirt" entertainment?