Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Finished the last round of materials for AFM and received confirmation the client has them and loves them because they are the greatest marketing materials EVAR!

So now I can go over to the corner and have my wonderful cardiac arrest. Isn't film wonderful?

While I'm clutching my chest over here in the corner, possibly stroking out from an aneurysm brought about by the ever present "hurry up and wait" deadlines combined with economic and social stresses -- I want to point you toward something Cousin Jill highlighted the other day.

That something points the way toward changing the game for all of us, but I'm not going to be coy about it - it does mean a revolution. Now I'm not talking about pickaxes and torches and IEDs or anything like that. What Eric Garland is calling for here is an understanding of the fundamental realities facing the motion picture business today.

Don't think so? Try this:

Garland: Yes, but Surfthechannel.com, (an online site where users can find links to a plethora of unauthorized shows and films) doesn't care about that. They're happy to serve up current and past episodes of "24." And just like music, Hollywood's first reaction to that will be "Well, that's just not fair. That's jumping the turnstile, that's breaking the rules. We have to shut that down, because if you remove that option then people will be more patient." You won't remove that option, and you're losing valuable time if you focus on removing that option at the expense of improving that option and bettering that option, beating that option. The music people used to say, "How can you can compete with free?" And now you ask anybody in digital music and they'll tell you, "I'm just trying to compete effectively with free." They've embraced the very condition that up until very recently they said they would reject. I'm telling you, you are going to compete with free. Sometimes you're even going to win, once you make the commitment to living in the marketplace as it is and not as you wish it were or as it once was
"Living in the marketplace as it is..." that opportunity knocking my friends. It's spelled H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K, but it is opportunity to think outside the theater screen or cathode ray tube / flat screen.

But unfortunately, we have to contend with the old guard who want things the way they once were:

Q: Are paywalls one of the solutions? That's what Hulu's leaders are considering.
Absolutely not. What you have is a very effective antipiracy tool in Hulu, and I'm specifically drawing on the numbers and not just citing anecdotal evidence. People really do prefer the Hulu experience. So you actually have cannibalization, for once, of a pirate market by a legitimate market. You have a legitimate market stealing share and audience away from a pirate market. Put that behind a subscription wall and they'll just go back.
Read the whole article. Front to back, back to front. It's a significant shift away from the line of "It'll never happen" or "How can I make money if I'm giving it away for free?" It's an honest assessment of what is going on right now all over the world and points to putting together business models to suit.

More on this in the Pulp Legion Electrogram. It will probably be finished around Turkey day because I will be down in Santa Monica next week attending AFM and several seminars including the SAGIndie panel, The WGA West panel and the Film Independent panel. I want to incorporate what I experience there into the e-gram.

Early rumor has this AFM tagged as a grim affair.


Kangas said...

I guess part of my problem with this whole thing is principle.

To me we're saying "Hey, you can steal my movie--I can't stop you."

So let's ignore that and try to make money in another way.

If actually robbery gets easy, do we give up trying to stop it? How about other crimes?

Because it IS a crime. We created something at our time and expense, and people are stealing it the same as if they went down to the store and shoplifted it. Only, it's easier because they just click some buttons.

Right? Or am I having a hard time seeing things from my high horse? :)

Lindsay Stewart said...

Kangas, the point of making a creative product is to have it enjoyed and appreciated by an audience. Repeated studies have shown that the biggest downloaders are also the folks that buy the most product legitimately. As a musician as well as a film maker, I sincerely hope that when I put out my new recording that it is widely downloaded and shared. To me that means one thing, I have an audience. Once I have an audience it is up to me to leverage their attention. The other factor to bear in mind is that the folks that are "stealing" your precious work would more than likely never give it a glance otherwise. You haven't lost a sale, you've gained an audience member.

One of the biggest lies in the industries is that giving something away is a negative. Michael Jackson's Thriller came out and there were tens of thousands of copies given away. They made damn good and sure that that vinyl was in the hands of the scene makers, club djs, radio and media outlets and they put aside thousands and thousands to be given away to kids to clinch some initial market penetration. Giving product away is standard entertainment business practice.

When I started playing in the 80s, the means of production and distribution were sewn up by a handful of companies that did more than steal from you, they eviscerated artists. Last year a friend of mine had a mortgage burning party after finally clearing the thousands of dollars of "recoupables" that he'd been charged after he signed his fabled recording contract. Today the means of production and distribution have proliferated down and we have the power, as indies, to claim a share of the marketplace.

Cunningham said...

I will address all of this in the Electrogram. I leave you with this:

Is it actually stealing if in the end it makes you more money than if it hadn't been uploaded?

And this:

"What you have is a very effective antipiracy tool in Hulu, and I'm specifically drawing on the numbers and not just citing anecdotal evidence. People really do prefer the Hulu experience. So you actually have cannibalization, for once, of a pirate market by a legitimate market. You have a legitimate market stealing share and audience away from a pirate market. Put that behind a subscription wall and they'll just go back."

Kevin - You ARE coming at this from an emotional perspective. I ask only that you take that into account and temper your emotion with a more business perspective.

I realize that in suggesting "free" is the future I am asking you to set aside all that you've known and rethink the process you've worked within. I take that into account as does Garland in the article. We'll go slow. ;D

But what I'm not asking you to set aside are your principles. I'm simply asking you to accept the possibility that maybe your principles are misplaced in this instance. That indeed filesharing has actually led to more commerce than less.

I am hoping that once the Electrogram is out (I'm compiling everything these next weeks as well as other things) we will revisit this topic with greater scrutiny and constructive debate.

(preferably with a scotch and a cigar)

Kangas said...

Yes, for sure much of what I feel is emotional.

For me, the point of making something creative IS so it can be enjoyed and appreciated BUT if you can no longer create because you're not making enough money to create your art--then what?

And comparisons to music don't work. Unless your song(or I'll even give you your album) costs you $30-50K to create...

It's not enough to put it out there and enjoy having had an audience. I've had that.

Whether I was lucky or knew what I was doing, my first two films were picked up and distributed by semi-well-known distributors(one being Lionsgate). I got paid okay...enough to make another two films.

But now that the distributors are shy about paying anything for movies, I find it won't be enough to just have an audience. I need to make money so I can make another flick.

And I've gotten into arguments on "trading" message boards(anonymously, mind you) where these people are copying my movies and sharing them, and they claim they're "helping" the filmmaker. Which they're not.

And these are people who, if torrents didn't exist, would absolutely be renting my flicks to check them out. Maybe not buying, but a rental is still money in the distributor's pocket.

So I have a hard time accepting the theft of something I spent years working on.

Now, I hear the theory of free-will-generate money but I haven't seen it produce on a reliable basis yet. Maybe it will.

But for the question Is it stealing if in the end it makes you more money? I'd have to ask you--if a guy steals $1000 out of your pocket but that somehow leads to you getting $5000 from someone else--do you feel better about the original theft?(I guess I'd feel better because I now have money but not about the original theft)

And does it make the original theft any less of an offense?

I mean, clearly it's a touchy point to me--I don't want to belabor the point any more than I have.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll be discussing this until the cable companies start throttling or free movies make money--whichever comes first. :)