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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday papers: DIY distribution and home media storage

- While he waits for a distributor to pick up his latest movie, "Mutual Appreciation," indie director Andrew Bujalski (he earlier made "Funny Ha Ha") is selling DVD screeners of the film at for $15. In the NY Times today, Dennis Lim writes:

    Both films are slow-burning comedies about the fear of adulthood made by someone who isn't yet inclined to sentimentalize or belittle these threshold years. As Mr. Bujalski presents it, the quarter-life crisis is an inherently funny condition, but it's not necessarily a laughing matter.

    "Funny Ha Ha" was completed in 2002, but failed to secure distribution despite strong endorsements from critics and bloggers, not to mention a "Someone to Watch" prize at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. In April of last year, with the help of Houston King, a fan turned investor, Mr. Bujalski finally released his film through a company called Goodbye Cruel Releasing.

    Though still an industry outsider, Mr. Bujalski is emerging as a critics' favorite - A. O. Scott of The New York Times named "Funny Ha Ha" one of the 10 best films of 2005.

Both movies, Bujalski says, were financed by a mixture of his own savings, grants, contributions from family and friends, and private investors. The article also notes that while Bujalski is trying to use the Internet to get his film out there, he's no technophile:

    In today's independent film landscape, Mr. Bujalski is at once an anomaly and a stubborn idealist. While digital video is the default medium for low-cost moviemaking, he insists on grainy 16 millimeter. "There's a deliberateness to film," he said. "If these films were on video they would feel a lot more frivolous. Film allows you to make the statement that this is on purpose." Mr. Bujalski also prefers the tactile splices of flatbed editing to cutting with a desktop computer.

- My new "Entertainment 2.0" column appears in the Boston Globe today. It's headlined, "Wanted: one place to store all those digital files, from hit songs to home movies." It begins:

    LAS VEGAS -- The gadget makers who gathered here last week for the Consumer Electronics Show want to make it easier and more alluring for you to create and collect digital media.

    Google introduced a video download service, and Microsoft, with an assist from pop idol Justin Timberlake and MTV, cut the ribbon on an online music store called Urge. Kodak showed off a new digital camera with two lenses, and Sony trotted out a palm-sized high-definition video camera.

    But once you've got all those digital songs, TV shows, still photos, and movies (some of it produced by you, some by big media companies), what exactly do you do with them?

    We're all starting to resemble squirrels with lots of acorns and no good place to stash them: Our digital files are scattered across PCs at home and at work, our cameras and video cameras, CDs and DVDs, USB keychain drives and SD cards, and, increasingly, portable devices such as cell phones, PlayStation Portables, and iPods.

(At right is Jodi Hilton's photo of Andrew Bujalski from today's Times.)