I have to thank Mitchell Block for his remarks on my post of Peter Broderick’s indieWIRE article. It prompted me to look at the discussion/reaction to the article on other blogs (I’m behind on my feed reader!). Karina wonders what’s new with what he is saying - probably not much, but for filmmakers who are swimming in a sea of choices without a light to steer by, I think it could prove useful (hence I posted it here). Several others simply pulled quotes out of the article that they thought were interesting and linked to the whole article (like me), but they have some interesting comments. From CinemaTech:

One thing that continues to strike me is the supposed “glut” of content. But again, I walked out of the Blockbuster empty handed last night. It seemed that every 3rd “new release” was a low-budget hack horror film (I love horror, but have been burned too many times by such derivative fare). So, I checked out the listings on my parents’ pay-per-view service. Again, abysmal selection. I couldn’t find a single film I wanted to watch.

The problem is not the glut of content. It’s the stupidity of the old-guard in getting that new content to a consumer like me with $5 burning a hole in my pocket.

From Block’s comments here on Resources:

It doesn’t solve the problem that are inherent in most of the independent docs and fiction features. They are not commercial. People don’t want to see most of them. They have no hooks to use in marketing them. It’s not old v new but rather commercial v non-commercial v marginally commercial.

Anthony Kaufman also believes, from his research, that it is “important to temper some of the enthusiasm for the ‘New World’ of distribution.” His reasoning is due to the same idea that Block is getting at, that successful sales require a large cash outlay (e.g. theatrical release):

To sum up briefly, what’s seemingly astonishing about VOD is Sehring’s claim that the gross dollar revenue ratio from VOD to theatrical is 2 to 1. That means a film such as “This is England,” for example, which made about $350,000 in theaters made another $700,000 on VOD.

It’s true that with my festival programmer hat on, I’ve seen a ton of films that I never saw anything about again. And sometimes they were even decent! But I’d suggest that looking to IFC Films to intimate what might happen with a film that isn’t picked up by them is exactly where Broderick is working. There are films that are having success on the festival circuit, building their audiences online and making money selling their DVDs. How about Todd Sklar with Box Elder or David Redmon and Ashley Sabin with Made in China and Kamp Katrina? Low overhead, a willingness to roll up their sleeves and market themselves, and movies that are made inexpensively are the keys to their ability to keep making movies.

We can’t talk about two different markets as though they are the same. Man on Wire is a great example of a mass market success, not a niche success model.

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