|DVD review: Clone Hunter
Often, sci-fi and low budget indie productions go together about as well as chocolate and onions. The high budget demands on special effects eventually hamper the entire story. Clone Hunter is indeed [ ... ]
|What to make of the ending to Inception?
So far, my favorite film this year is Christopher Nolanís Inception. Not only does it deliver all the action and thrills expected of a big budget summer blockbuster, but it has inspired endl [ ... ]
|DVD Review: The White Ribbon
The White Ribbon is a drama starring Christian Freidl, Ulrich Turkl and Burghart Klaussner. Directed by Michael Haneke.
|DVD Review: Shutter Island|
The film begins on an ominous note. Eerie strings play as the film fades to white. Soon, a ship appears out of the fog. Cut to a gumshoe, looking and speaking as if he has stepped straight out of a [ ... ]
|Revenge Of Chris Anderson's The Long Tail|
|Written by Bruce Frigeri|
|Thursday, 05 February 2009 14:40|
As the economy continues to implode around us I am struck by a truly Kafka-esq situation for independent filmmakers. For years they cried for a chance to have their films distributed, even though many of them really didn't deserve it. The growth of dvd helped numerous worthwhile films be seen and earn their money back. Now with the advent of electronic delivery, and to a lesser extent, web sales of finished goods, it's easier than ever to get your film out there. Unfortunately all this extra exposure does not translate into revenue.
Irony is a luxury reserved for bankers with big bonuses, but this situation does beg the question of how most of these films will ever earn back more than a few pennies on the dollar. It's as if indie producers are watching a smorsgasbord through a glass partition. The meal looks fantastic but they can't get at it. It is the ultimate revenge of "The Long Tail," that fascinating distribution theory made famous by Chris Anderson in his book of the same name. The easier it is to present a product to the public, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to be discovered and consumed. So in the world of movies, its true that new delivery systems have greatly expanded choice for motivated consumers, but the flip side of all this choice is a degree of clutter that is matched only by the miniscule revenue these new distribution systems return. Now the new cry from independent producers isn't for distribution, but rather for promotion. And for those who haven't been keeping score, promotion is never a guarantee and it ain't cheap.
We've begun to run our higher profile foreign titles; Gambers, Kebab Connection, Ryna, Time, etc on the major VOD services, hoping that their relatively (compared to most) high profiles will help them perform. The jury is still out on this approoach, so we'll have to wait a few more months to see if it pays off.
The one thing you can bank on though is that these delivery systems are making their profits regardless of the fate for any one film. It's Anderson's theory of the long tail on steroids. I-Tunes doesn't care if they sell 1,000 downloads of a Hollywood movie in a day or one download of 1,000 independent titles. It's all the same to them. Unfortunately, producers and investors who are making one or two films a year don't have this luxury. It's true that digital technology enables them to make their films more cheaply, but these savings don't begin to match the reduced revenue that this same digital technology on the delivery side generates for the vast majority of independent productions.
So what's a filmmaker to do? On a bad day I'd say produce a great play, and that certainly is an option. But American culture needs the fresh air of independent cinema more than ever. Making these films in such an unforgiving environment is a tough and often thankless task, but filmmakers continue to answer the bell. A few gems always seem to be discovered and all concerned are nicely rewarded. For now that seems to be motivation enough for so much of the good work I see coming across my desk each week.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2009 15:09|