Monday, February 27, 2006

Indie, Indeed...

Let's face it: even if you are lucky enough to get funding for your indie art film, there's no way you're going to be able to nail down theatrical distribution for it.

Case in point: Wellspring is starting their own DVD distribution label as a last resort. And the films they distribute usually buy into the Sundance version of "independent" that makes life seem so teenage angsty and full of unremediated quirk.

The so-called arthouse cinema scene is in the dumps because it can't compete with Hollywood in getting the best art work out to movie theater audiences. And now those who make low-budget artflix are looking at HDNET as a potential savior, the reason being that HDNET is implementing a strategy with Steven Soderbergh to make one million dollar pics in true HD that will be released simultaneously in Landmark theaters, on DVD, and on cable TV via the HDNET channel.

That's great if you want to go that route, and for some arthouse auteurs, they will dream of HDNET instead of Hollywood. But none of them carry the Hollywood reputation of a Soderbergh, which suggests it's not so indie after all. It's just a wee bit ahead of its time in business terms. Everyone who pays attention to these things knows that the future of cinema is a model where the work is delivered to the viewer wherever they are (home, school, work, or via nomadic devices for when they are on the go). The emerging audiences for arthouse cinema will probably have "movie theater venue" at the bottom of their list of places they expect to view their fave flix. It ends up that the future Fellini's of the world will be distributing their work independently, not even considering the movie theater opton, and will do it from their own (or collectively generated) website, occasionally with the help of new media intermediaries who really need access to their "data" and can help increase the work's exposure.

But in the meantime, what?

Wait until your Maverick Prince comes?

Both Godard and Herzog have said this, and I will too: do you want to make a film? Get yourself a camera, and start shooting. Take that data you capture, log and capture it into Final Cut Pro on your Mac, and start editing (i.e. "manipulating the data"). Make a soundtrack if you want or engage with creative collaborators to help make it more fun. Apply your artist plug-in filters where necessary.

Once it's ready for viewing, then start distributing it: read the self-distribution manifesto, start your own DVD label, create mpg versions for video iPod and PSPlayer, blanket cool film, video, and media art fests with entry applications, and think about making some or all of it available via a video blog (a vog).

Vertov would be vogging right now, if only he could.

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