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Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Ted Hope: 38 Concerns for American Independent Film

Producer Ted Hope has collected a list of 38 things he's worrying about - issues we need to deal with in order for quality indie film to have a future. It's well worth a read ... and the comments are great, too.

It begins:

    1. Too many leisure options for film to compete without further enhancing the theatrical and cinematic experience
    2. Too many "specialized" films opening to allow such films to gain word of mouth and audience's attention.
    3. Too many films available and being distributed to allow films to stay in one theater for very long, making it more difficult to develop a word of mouth audience.
    4. Lack of access -- outside of NYC & LA --to films when they are at their highest media awareness (encourages bootlegging, limits appeal by reducing timeliness).
    5. Distrib's abandonment (and lack of development) of community-building marketing approaches for specialized releases (which reduces appeal for a group activity i.e. the theatrical experience).
    6. Distrib's failure to embrace limited streaming of features for audience building.
    7. Reliance on large marketing spend release model restricts content to broad subjects (which decreases films' distinction in marketplace) and reduces ability to focus on pre-aggregated niche audiences.

(One of Hope's latest projects is 'Adventureland,' a really enjoyable trip back to the 1980s.)

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  • Nina Paley is working on a solution with her film Sita Sings the Blues.

    Give the film away.

    Make it available on every torrent site and from your own servers. Spread the film far and wide. I talked with her on the phone about a week ago. "Obscurity is your enemy.", she said.

    From all those viewers of your free content (if your movie is good), you will get fans and some of these fans will buy your products...your special edition DVDs, your t-shirts, etc. Because your fans want you to succeed.

    The internet has opened the potential to a market of hundreds of millions of people. If 1% of those see your movie and if your movie is good, 5% of your viewers become your fan base, you are looking at a sustainable model.

    Even though her film is available for free on the internet, she is still getting a limited theatrical release AND a limited international release. People still want to see their favorite films on a big screen. People still want to take their friends and lovers to movies they love and cherish (think of all the films that have been re-issued with theatrical releases).

    Believe me I'm still having a hard time with this. My $2 million film (6 years in the making) is nearing completion and thinking about the above model - give it away -makes me more than a wee bit nauseous, but the alternatives don't seem to be working anymore.

    By Blogger GBH, at 11:38 PM  

  • I think Ted's comments are valid in that within the "Film Economy" we are dealing with scarcity and abundance issues like never before.

    Too many films and not enough resources and time to consume them. The industry is being marginalized at the commercial filmmaker level by a sea of unsellable and sometimes unwatchable material that is clogging up the system.

    As for Nina Paley and her film Sita Sings the Blues, am I the only one that thinks this person did not do their homework (in regards to the music licensing) and should not be put on a pedestal? She's playing the poor me card fairly well, and it proves that she perhaps should have thought her project through a little bit before going into production.

    And as for giving the film away on torrent sites...I can't speak for Ted Hope on this one, but would think he would be cringing at the thought of giving away a consumable product that for the most part is watched once, unlike music which is consumed over and over again and therefore can warrant a "test drive"

    By Blogger David Geertz, at 11:34 AM  

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