November 18, 2013

Rethinking the Value of the Short Film: an Open Letter to Vimeo by Robin Schmidt

"Do short films have monetary value?" Filmmaker Robin Schmidt, who after many short films and music videos recently completed his first feature film, digs in and offers some intriguing observations in the guest post below, as well as his idea for a solution with the help of Vimeo. After reading the post, we'd also like to know what you think. Do short films have monetary value? If so, what solutions can you come up with that will allow filmmakers to monetize their shorts?

This is a guest post by filmmaker Robin Schmidt.

Health of Cinema as an Art Form

Today we’re seeing a huge debate going about the health of cinema as an art form. Many say it’s dying, others see television as the new frontier of great dramatic art. Alec Baldwin’s made a documentary about it. There’s no doubt we’re in a period of great evolution, of great opportunity and, yes, of great confusion - too much, too often, too much of the time.

The feature film industry is a giant behemoth. It will take some giant efforts to change it. But I’ve recently been wondering whether we can support and underpin the efforts of those at that level by rethinking the short form landscape. This letter is an attempt to understand the shape of the market right now and offer up one possible way to create a system that benefits everyone: the money man, the audience, the filmmaker and a new category that we’ve never seen before in our industry, the collector.

Over the past few years I’ve been following people like Ted Hope, Sheri Candler and Jon Reiss whose staunch advocacy of the power of direct distribution fired my imagination and got me thinking about innovative ways to promote and distribute my own work. I kept coming up against the same problem though. Apathy.

Direct distribution is fantastic when it works, but it often feels as if we have to shout like deranged evangelical nuts just to be heard. It also struck me that these new methods of distribution were more often than not just different ways of presenting the same mechanic: the audience as consumer (albeit invested and interested,) the filmmaker as supplier. And that’s it. Could we perhaps investigate a model of distribution that redrew that relationship?

One of the skills required of any director is an acute point of view on human nature. My own view is distinctly colored by the perception of man as fundamentally selfish – What’s in it for me? Much direct distribution these days depends on altruism, generosity and other acts of selflessness, so I wondered if perhaps we were looking at things the wrong way. Instead of relying on the charity of our end consumer, could we motivate them in ways that actively encouraged their selfishness? By doing so it seemed we might create a fascinating dynamic between filmmaker and audience, a partnership based on mutual self-interest.

New Model for Short Form Content

What I’m proposing is a new model for short form content because that’s where I see the biggest opportunity. That’s not to say it couldn’t work for features but why not start small and build up? I often hear people talk about making the ‘jump’ to features. Should it not be more of a gentle hop? Shorts are a terribly undervalued and often scorned satellite of the filmmaking universe: just a stepping stone, a calling card, a 48-hour challenge. There are some absolutely phenomenal shorts, but very few see them and they’re lost in the back catalogue of careers that reach for something greater. That’s a shame.

As I see it, shorts must overcome three significant hurdles: curatorship, a lack of interest from the general public, and massive competition from all other media. So what’s to be done? Well, let me tell you about myself for a moment.

I’m an independent filmmaker and shot my first feature film, AfterDeath, earlier in the year with long time co-director, Gez Medinger. We shot the film for a low budget on a tight schedule and while it’s entirely possible to shoot ten pages in one day, it does seriously limit how complex you can be with your shot design and coverage.

So I wrote a short martial arts love story that I managed to partly fund with a record label, making up the rest myself. That film became a repository for all the creative ideas that couldn’t be put into the feature film. It’s also 40 mins long. That’s long for a short. Really long. The feature film has commercial value. The short has none at all. Were it 20 minutes longer it would qualify as a feature. And that really sucks.

This of course is entirely my own fault. Nobody makes shorts of that length because it’s just stupid. No one’s going to watch it online, I can’t sell it to television stations and its worth as a calling card would have been undiminished had it merely been ten minutes long. It was a stupid film to make yet make it I did, because, yeah -- okay, I was passionate about it, that’s fine, but most of all, because I was having so much fun making it, it kept paying back all that effort in what was being created.

film reelI love this film. It is, in many ways, a much purer expression of who I am as a filmmaker -- dare I say it -- as an artist, than the feature film. And I want people to see it. But they almost certainly won’t get to. After tip-toeing gently round the festival circuit, keeping it carefully out of sight, by the time I’m able to release it online I’ll inevitably be off doing other things.

One idea I’ve had is to retell the story as a graphic novel, sell it to a publisher and package the film with it. The material in my story would work well in that medium, but that isn’t the same for every film. And of course it’s a whole different piece of work with a whole new set of challenges.

What about those films whose content isn’t suitable for this kind of cross-platform approach? Where’s the value in those films? What most people do is publish them on Vimeo, hoping to connect with a broad audience. Many do of course and that’s fantastic, but that’s where it usually ends. The Staff Picks are a great way of sifting through all the material released out there. Tip Jar and the pay-to-view system is an easily graspable way for filmmakers to generate revenue, small as it might be.

Which is great, but we’re still playing the old game, aren’t we? Could there be another way of thinking about things? It starts with the notion of value. What is our work worth? And by that I don’t necessarily mean pounds, dollars or renminbi.

I’ve heard many arguments over the years extolling great ways to monetize short films. But no one wants to pay to watch short films. I have to ask myself honestly whether I would donate money through the Tip Jar on Vimeo or not and the answer is no. I’ve funded many crowdsourcing campaigns, but I don’t feel moved to donate to a finished project. The value proposition is all wrong for a selfish consumer – What’s in it for me?

Making films costs money and it’s taken as read that we must simply be happy to fund them ourselves at this level, or if we’re really lucky, get them funded by a scheme, most of which none of us will ever qualify for. So, what then is the value of a short? Learning your craft, as a calling card and -- well that’s kind of it. Many no longer bother with the festival circuit because it’s just too much of a faff; it’s expensive and it’s the slowest process since glacial erosion. Which is a shame because festivals still represent the best way for any filmmaker to really assert their credentials.

Are Short Films Worth Anything?

Shorts then are fast becoming worthless. Most filmmakers are dispensing with them completely and jumping straight into features and who can blame them?

Money DSLRThere’s a vital and interesting ecosystem of short form content out there. Actually, I would argue it’s a far more interesting, diverse and exciting world than features right now and the most artistic, creative element tends to be found on Vimeo. It’s a vital step in growing as a filmmaker; it’s how you serve your apprenticeship. It’s my feeling people should spend longer making more shorts before moving into features because that’s how we’ll help to mitigate risk for those with the money. But how are we to support shorts and grow them if we can’t monetize them and create a self-sustaining structure?

Most importantly, what is the value of a short, and where might it reside?

It’s no secret that filmmaking is undergoing a heavy process of commoditization. More and more video being made cheaper and cheaper. It was inevitable. There are two models, a services driven one and a talent driven one. There are very few of us, I suspect, who entered this industry to be part of the services driven model, but inevitably that’s where most of us earn our living. Very few actually make it up to features where the tariff for a talent driven model is so very, very high.

Talent is where the value actually lies. It can’t be pirated and it’s very receptive to development. Maybe our model for value lies not with the product but with the producer. If we revisit that idea of commoditization once again, the very definition of a commodity is that the market treats its instances as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. This is no good for us.

Ted Sarandos of Netflix recently spoke about TV as the great bold frontier for independent production. They’re doing amazing work revitalizing a tired distribution model, shaping it around the way people consume media and are seeing great results, but it can be every bit as difficult breaking into the television club as it is to break into the feature club, if not more so. Sarandos bases his argument around the notion that people want to watch what they want, when they want. And he’s right. But he’s right for the particular way his audience consume his product. But audiences are like all consumers, they’re fractal.

Way back when I worked for a qualitative market researcher named Wendy Gordon whose book Good Thinking posited the idea of NeedStates in consumers. These were triggers for human behaviour based on not just market segmentation, but time of day, place, and a whole host of other factors. We may consume all our film and TV through a screen, but the NeedStates involved are very different. Some use TV like radio. Others dim the lights and settle in. Others enjoy having something to look forward to, others need everything now.

The NeedState that wants the whole House of Cards series all at once is not the NeedState we have any chance of competing with. None at all. But the NeedState that spends $15 on a bottle of wine, rather than the usual $5, just for the hell of it, for a treat, because, damnit, you deserve it -- there we might be onto something. It’s important that we recognise that all viewing habits are not at all the same.

applePart of my work with Wendy involved analysing trends. It’s not exactly rocket science, but my findings showed that for every strong trend you would inevitably see a smaller but just as powerful anti-trend following soon after. As our world becomes increasingly technologically complex so the need for simpler interfaces and simplicity in general arises. Hence, Apple.

My argument is this: by offering everything all the time to our audiences we are simply drowning in the same trend as the big boys with all the money. We can’t possibly hope to compete. If we are to really cut through then maybe we need to be the anti-trend, restricting access, controlling the product, cultivating scarcity. That sounds counter-intuitive does it not?

It’s natural for us all to want the widest audience possible for our films, but that’s unrealistic. What we actually want is the best audience possible. It’s time to stop thinking of our work as a commodity. When we talk about things that are beautiful, hand-crafted, bespoke inevitably we evoke one particular class of product: luxury goods. It’s time we started treating our work with the same respect.

Treating Films Like Fine Art

So let’s move away from film for a moment and examine another world that was once intimately related to ours.

Fine art.

Bear with me because this is going to involve some cringe-making assertions about the artistic value of film, but it’s a necessary evil.

Artists create work, they hold exhibitions, are supported by galleries, bought by collectors and their work is sold at auction as their value rises. Galleries put on special exhibits, they borrow and loan works. Auction houses promote sales, hire experts to evaluate pieces, drive up prices. The value of the art is entirely defined by the market. The tools required to create the work themselves are available to everyone. The value resides with the creator. The market is defined by the desirability of the product. And, of course, it’s driven by scarcity. Young talent is developed and promoted, collectors can take a punt on an early career or simply acquire pieces because they love them on budgets from zero to millions of dollars. It’s beautiful.

Is it crazy to think we might apply this same structure to film work?

Would it be possible for filmmakers to develop relationships with gallery owners, exhibit their work, sell it and drive up their stock and standing in a competitive market to be acquired by collectors?

Yes. I believe it would.

Essentially what you’re looking at is a trading platform in which ‘collectors’ can acquire works by filmmakers, they can exhibit them in virtual galleries, charging access or not, and they can auction them off to other collectors. Trading can be done however the interested parties see fit. It can be for cash, or for other artists work. It’s a free exchange.

Movie Theater

It’s in filmmakers interest to create better work to interest heavy-hitting collectors, but you limit the number of collectors they can invite to view their work so the game is as much about creating strong partnerships, patronage if you like, as it is about creating the work. For the savvy there’s a real opportunity to build up strong collections that have genuine value and for the artist there’s a real incentive to improve and not just throw any old crap out there.

Imagine a screening system in which collectors can choose which dates they exhibit their collection to the public, on a first come first serve basis. The day comes, the exhibition opens. You have 24 hours, then the exhibition closes. The collector can choose whether or not to charge an entry fee, but that’s entirely up to them. They can put works on sale and of course they can arrange private screenings at any time for interested parties. This reinstates the much-missed element of scarcity to short form distribution. Scarcity breeds anticipation breeds interest breeds audiences. If we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, then nothing has any value anymore.

Now imagine all the data such a system could harness. Trackable performance figures, audience figures, the actual value of the filmmaker as indexed against all the others on the site. Upward and downward trajectories, measurable analytics. Kind of like IMDBs starmeter. For an investor this provides a very clear way to understand the career of an artist in a way which should make risks easier to take. For the filmmaker it also provides a great tool to back up festival wins and support an application for funding. And it provides a tangible and measurable reason to actually make better films. And more of them.

Of course it can be a long game, but isn’t that what careers are all about?

Say you bet early on the career of Christopher Nolan and acquired his short film Doodlebug. How much could that now be worth?

What I love about this model is that it encourages strong creative partnerships between those who create and those who consume based on a very real sense of value. It encourages the artist to nurture their body of work, to aspire to the caché of festival wins, to believe in the value of their own stock as filmmakers. That value will create something else of great importance. Competition. And that is something I believe can only improve the quality of work produced.

Piracy and Gamification

So what about the elephant in the room? Piracy. My firm belief is that a tiny barrier to entry like a subscription fee would remove most pirates at the first hurdle. It’s short form content after all and the value inherent in that is not defined by one piece of work but by many. A feature film is one big piece of work for which there is a price to pay. That’s not how this system would work, so why bother? Should someone rip a film and upload it under another name that brings us to another powerful idea from the art world: provenance.

Piracy

If there’s a digital record of the provenance of the film on the site, complete with all sales, transactions, exhibitions and identity of the original uploader then we can consider the exchange of films in much the same way we consider buying a second-hand car. In other words, do your homework. In fact, without that provenance, a second upload of a film would be worthless. What’s more, any copy of the film outside the ecosystem would also be worth far less than the ‘original’. It’s only within the framework itself that the value has any tangible meaning.

Would we see everyone and his dog submitting films for auction? No. In the art world if a work is submitted to auction and doesn’t sell it’s value goes down. It’s a risk. Similarly, if you make the whole process transparent so that collectors can see who else filmmakers have sent their work to, been rejected and accepted by, again the system polices itself. Filmmakers will have to take risks or play it safe, but limit their actions to safeguard the value of their work. It’s a system that polices itself but it’s also a system that curates itself.

Would we see the rise of the superstar collector? Absolutely. Would we see an emergence of ‘collections’ as status symbols? Absolutely. Would the system be subject to the same fluctuations as any trading system? Absolutely. And that’s why it works. Gamification. Encouraging individuals to be strategic in the way they price, exhibit and drive up the value of their assets is a fundamental dynamic in trading. It’s like Football Manager but the assets are films.

And what about festivals? This can only benefit them. If you drive up the prestige of a festival appearance then it makes the festivals more important. There’s no reason why films can’t appear on the exchange without even being seen by anyone, with their first exhibition offline at a festival before being exhibited in the normal way. Might this represent an entirely different way of handling applications to festivals? Possibly…

There are so many fun and exciting ways this idea could be executed, but for me, one constant would have to be a royalty clause. 5% of all trades, exchanges, sales or exhibition fees to the original owner of the work, in perpetuity. As to who originally owns the work, that’s for producers to deal with. Paperwork will be as important as it has ever been.

The Vimeo Exchange

So, why am I writing to you Vimeo? If anyone were to try to launch this as a startup it would never get off the ground. Vimeo is the place where film artists exhibit their work, the community already exists and most of us already pay a subscription to use the site so we are comfortable with that. The community itself is fantastic, global, supportive and, most importantly, not YouTube. I also know that you care deeply about privacy controls, about helping creators control access to their work and about developing a deeper relationship with us. In other words, you would be the perfect people to launch such a system. You already have the exhibition platform, all it would need is the trading platform. Call it the Vimeo Exchange.

And here’s how I think it might work:

  • Every Vimeo subscriber automatically becomes a member of the exchange.
  • The exchange looks very much like the current on demand system except there would be more options regarding making offers to buy, ownerships statistics and future exhibitions as well as the option to request a private screening.
  • Filmmakers can choose whether to submit a work to the exchange which can then be traded, bought, auctioned, given away, loaned or removed at their discretion.
  • Vimeo allocates a limited number of slots for daily exhibitions.
  • Collectors can sign up for slots on a first come first serve basis.
  • Exhibition spaces can be skinned like Wetransfer + pages and exhibitors can choose to charge or not for entry or even wall off sections of their exhibition for paid entry.
  • Filmmakers can contact a limited number of collectors every month with the view to getting them interested in their work.
  • Filmmakers will be able to offer private viewings of their work which they can choose whether or not to charge for.
  • Films can be traded in any way the owners see fit as long as it is on the exchange, for free, paid or in a swap deal.
  • All data about trading will be freely available and transparent.
  • Every month filmmakers can submit their work for auction. If the film sells they hand over ownership. If not they retain ownership.
  • Daily exhibits will be promoted through an email flash and on the exchange front page.
  • Best performing filmmakers and films will win a monthly prize
  • The platform will be built on the Vimeo principles of flexibility and simplicity. Manage your collection however you want, charge whatever you want, the strategy and the presentation is entirely up to you.

So, let me leave you with a few final words about why I get so excited about this idea.

  • It revitalizes the short form, both in terms of its value to the filmmaker but as a worthwhile form in its own right, rather than the poor cousin of features or television.
  • It redraws the relationship between creator and consumer as one of artist, patron and collector. Encouraging partnerships between the two in an environment defined by scarcity.
  • It gamifies the distribution process, allowing both filmmaker and audience to ‘play’ the system, the way traders play the stock exchange. This is the fundamental appeal of the whole idea.
  • It will create a ‘catalogue’ of short form content, indexed, its provenance clear, with a transparent value chain for investors to scrutinize.
  • It is driven by the selfish consumer.

At the end of the day, I am a filmmaker and wish to remain one, but I hope to have fired your imagination with some different ideas. It’s a fun debate and I’ve been sitting on it for a year wondering what to do with it. Ultimately, it felt like the best way forward was to put it out there in public.

Yours sincerely,

Robin Schmidt
Filmmaker

[Apple Accessories image -- Packiii

[Money Camera image --  PetaPixel]

[Skull and Crossbones image -- 3D Video]


I’m Robin Schmidt, also known in music video circles as El Skid. I’m a freelance director, editor and latterly cameraman, as well as doing all sorts of other bits and pieces like graphics and voiceovers. I am not a director of photography. And never will be. I’ve been working in music video, corporate and extreme sports up till now but my big love is drama, which is easily the toughest directing game to gain any kind of foothold in. I set up the production company Chrome Productions in 2002 which served as a brilliant apprenticeship for learning key skills, but I’ve now left to pursue drama, not necessarily in the conventional way, but in a way that reflects the changing landscape of filmmaking today, and the one that does away with all the bullshit that seems to float around this business. After winning the Bahamas 14 Islands Film Challenge, I earned the right to work with Canon as a pro envoy for video and convergence (a fancy term for shooting on DSLRs.) I was also named one of Moviescope Magazine’s ‘One to Watch’ which must mean I’m doing something right!

Your Comment

91 Comments

Well said, Robin! Short films DO certainly have cultural value, thanks for highlighting their potential monetary value as well.

Short films as fine art; this works for me.

FYI, the "Vimeo exchange" idea sounds a lot like what Nimia is trying to do, I've been approached by them as a content contributor.

November 18, 2013 at 11:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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A good read Robin, it would be interesting to see an idea like this grow.

However, it is worth noting that when talking about the worth of an "original" copy in the film world, isn't really plausible as it would be in paintings or sculptures. Since film is not a material, it is data. Although this is a minor thing, since I believe that pirates can't be won. You'll always have pirates and they will always find ways. If you're good, no matter how harsh piracy goes against your work, you'll still do just fine. In many cases, piracy helped starting musicians get noticed and become big.

What bothers me about this idea is that it's something that in theory could work in the U.S and other countries that enjoy a thriving film industry. While that is great, I don't see this ever being possible for the rest of the world, as the culture is different enough when it comes to being a "collector". Part of the American culture creates a need to collect things, many times in quite an obsessive way. Without this, a lot of successful franchises would die before they ever take off. Conventions like Comic-Con wouldn't be so big and the American film industry wouldn't rely so much on merchandise when calculating their budgets. Your idea seems to fit right in with this love for collecting. Along with the ease of accessibility and the "popularity-contest" notion behind it all - it really does feel organic enough to fit right in with the times... but only in America and perhaps a few other countries with big film industries.

So this is where Youtube and Vimeo create value to the short film. People from all over the world can present their films, to audiences around the world which hold the crowds that do watch these films. Where it not for sites like these, it would be game over for most people around the world, before it even began. That is a lot of value, for many people.

November 18, 2013 at 12:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yes, piracy is a bitch. Which is why I thought about a system in which the film itself was not the valuable thing but it's chain of ownership, the data trail that came with it and the provenance of that film within the system. As such it's the data that's valuable and not the piratable film itself.

As far as ownership throughout the world I think the way you decide that is to just let those countries decide it for themselves. Design a flexible, customisable framework that users can build the way they want then it will take care of itself. Eco systems with lots of space to breathe tend to allow communities to flourish.

November 18, 2013 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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While I agree with many of the points made, I think that any attempt to say "this is how things should be" is ultimately futile. Case in point, the music industry.

November 18, 2013 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Well, if you want things to change, and I think you'll find most people do, then that's exactly the strength of feeling you need, otherwise we're just a bunch of apathetic nobodies. Which is crap. At the end of the day thought is free, and so is this article. I know this will never happen, but I hope you'll find the argument made sense.

November 18, 2013 at 4:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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And all the articles, blogs and wishes of wanting people to pay for albums has certainly worked out well.

The comparison to the fine art world is a laughable stretch.

Like I said, I sympathize with some of your ideas but it all seems like a pipe dream and no actual solutions. My one idea has been for short content to find a place on Netflix. Even short form television/web series like content could find a place there.

November 18, 2013 at 5:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Is it so laughable? Trawling through comments on this site you hear so many lamenting the loss of cinema as an art form. Tentpoles are bad we keep hearing. If we don't reaffirm the artistic credentials of cinema then they won't have any. What is it about the comparison with the art world that's so laughable? The hours and hours of labour and craft that make up the final product? Laughable? Oh yes. The value of a film, millions and millions of dollars, compared to the, oh wait, that's right, millions and millions of dollars just paid for Francis Bacon's portraits of Lucian Freud at Christie's? Completely laughable.

Of course it's a pipe dream but that's entirely the point. Just creating a short form portal on Netflix isn't going to work because the value proposition is entirely wrong. You're putting it up against everything else there is to find on there. Dead in the water.

If we want great artistic ideas to flourish in features then I'm afraid the moneymen are going to need to be convinced that they're worth making. The only way to do that is to prove it on a platform that's cheap and transparent and progressive.

I don't want to sound like every soap box dwelling evangelist so that's where I'll leave it. Ultimately, why should I care? I've already made the jump to features and it's great. It just feels like too many enjoy complaining too much to actually do any thinking for themselves.

November 19, 2013 at 3:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Just FYI I've been following your work for a couple years and have bought both issues of Mountains, just thought you'd like to know. Keep making your shit dude it's rad!

November 19, 2013 at 3:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Features are also worthless unless the potential audience knows they exist. This is accomplished with PR and marketing. Without it, no movie would sell enough to recoup it's costs. FilmMakers are notorious for blaming everyone and everything apart from themselves when their work bombs. Why not spend 50% of your budget on PR? If it's vital (and it is), surely it's a better investment than shooting on an Alexa instead of a C300? No one cares what you shoot on. And no one will even know if you don't have a decent PR campaign.

Shorts are no different. Spend $5000 on shooting it and then $5000 on PR and people will know about it. People will watch it. There are specific PR companies who can tailor a campaign to give you a huge amount of coverage for that kind of money. I know, i've done it.

Ultimately, shorts are interesting and sometimes a peek into a director's potential, but it's going to take something big to elevate them above the status they have now. They are experimental and 'show-reel' -like in their conception and often in their execution. Paying for them isn't going to come easily. I don't see it taking off.

Why not go back to the B-Movie? Encourage online distributors to 'give away' shorts for free when you pay to watch a feature online? You'll get coverage and many views which will in turn will generate interest which is probably worth more to an up and coming director than cash.

Just my opinion.

November 18, 2013 at 12:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MightyMouseFilmMaker

"Why not go back to the B-Movie?"

That's a good point. Many directors from before the auteur era did jump right in with feature films. Shorts didn't really become popular until the rise of film schools in the 70s and the whole downtown New York artscene. With the cost of making a film so low compared to every other period of filmmaking in history, I think filmmakers need to rethink how they're using their resources.

We want our first feature to go to Sundance and Cannes and get picked up by a distributor. It definitely happens, but it's also a little bit of dreamy BS. Many of the greatest directors started making whatever feature film they could (B-movie, skin flick, whatever) to cut their teeth.

I've made shorts and I've gotten great traction from them. But I always kept it in perspective. These were learning experiences for me and advertisement for my production company.

I like the concept presented but maybe us filmmakers need to better define what we want out of the making of a short instead of trying to get an audience to see more value in them than there really is.

November 18, 2013 at 2:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Keith

Ah, but I never actually said anyone had to pay for anything! That's the crucial point here, value being a completely separate notion to revenue.

November 18, 2013 at 2:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Understood.

"It gamifies the distribution process..."

I think that's the key point in your whole scheme. I would add in anything to make the whole process an "event" because that's the value audiences put into any film content these days, the "I can't miss this factor". And unfortunately, that's the element that's hard for anyone to create.

November 18, 2013 at 2:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Keith

Definitely. I think you have to go further tho. What was so amazing about the 5D movement was that here was a tool that was fundamentally unfit for purpose that was wrangled into being probably the most important camera of its time. That was entirely generated by the users. If something like this were to work you'd have to create a flexible architecture with complete customisation in which users can completely build it the way they want, trade the way they want, innovate and strategise exactly as they want.

November 18, 2013 at 4:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Great concept, paradigm pivot and well-written.

November 18, 2013 at 12:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jefferson Jones

As a filmmaker, aren't you concerned that, by adding your short to the auction, you may end up selling your work for like $20?

November 18, 2013 at 1:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

You bloody well should be. You absolutely should be. If you're that worried about it, don't put it in. If nobody's interested then stick it up on regular Vimeo, no worries. If your work is shit then it just won't be seen and it won't be valued. Like I said, it's a system that polices itself.

November 18, 2013 at 4:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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a) "Do short films have monetary value?" No.
b) Vimeo is fast becoming a crapfest. Look for a new service to take its place as a high-res streaming service (with write-on annotation!) within 18 months. There are 3 I know of in beta now.
c) What Brooks Reynolds said above. This is just daydreaming.

November 18, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Vimeo is fast becoming a crap fest... ouch. That's not Vimeo's fault. The beauty of something like this is that it would let the cream rise very quickly to the top. It's a self-policing, self-curating architecture and would actually give users a chance to find the very best of Vimeo without alienating the rest of the community.

No-one pays for short content. No. That's what I said. Encourage people to innovate in the way they present, share, distribute, curate and create value and you might find that would change. Even if not, why not do what galleries do in the real world, find corporate sponsors, let anyone in the door but ringfence a prestige part of your gallery for those who want to go further. It's entirely up to you.

Build it and you never know, they might just come.

November 18, 2013 at 5:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I read an interview recently – Francis Ford Coppola, link below – which said something along the lines of "who said art should be worth money" ... I know that phrase goes against the whole democratisation of creativity which technology offered us all ... but it's a fair point.

http://99u.com/articles/6973/francis-ford-coppola-on-risk-money-craft-co...

November 18, 2013 at 2:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Seriously everyone, take a second to step back and maybe reread the article. The point is not about money. It's about leverage, it's about stock, it's about a game, and yes, maybe somewhere along the line you can make a buck but we have to stop thinking about our work in terms of commerce. That's the fundamental point of this.

November 18, 2013 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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+1

November 18, 2013 at 2:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Then perhaps the first sentence of the post shouldn't be "Do short films have monetary value?"...???

I'm aware you didn't write that bit, but it sets the tone pretty explicitly.

November 18, 2013 at 8:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

Well, yes, sure. The answer is fairly swiftly, no. So what value do they have? And how do we realise, develop and exploit that value? That's the thrust of the argument.

So...

November 19, 2013 at 3:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yeah, it's just a note on the intro to the article, since it's such a broad topic in discussing what value they do have, the intro should open it up in a broad nature. Using specific aspects narrows the reader's focus from the start and it's hard to break that.

November 22, 2013 at 11:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

So here's something to add to the conversation. One of the other things that makes a piece of artwork priced highly is size. So, screen and distribute the 1080p version openly, and the 4K version becomes the collector's item. Also, make it like fine art photographs; a custom-made USB drive containing the 4K Film, specially numbered in a limited edition (say, 10). Or heck, bundle a 4K display with the film embedded on flash storage inside the TV casing itself.

Just some random thoughts...

November 18, 2013 at 4:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Great write-up. I start believeing, every few weeks, that film people (including myself), lack any talent, or intellect. Only (monotonous and cliched) reviews of films, and technology. We hardly see anyone suggesting anything. Especially, if its innovative.

I like your idea. I guess, it has a cope for tweaking, but, it is pretty good. Also, I think distribution, in generally stinks. So, for short films, it stinks even more.

Also, I believe, that stars and big studios, unfortunately, advertise so much, for large features, that, in the process, they kill all other kinds of films (Indies and Shorts without stars).

November 18, 2013 at 5:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sanveer

> that stars and big studios, unfortunately, advertise so much, for large features,

Well it *is* a business and one way to capture an audience is to knock out the competition.

November 19, 2013 at 4:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I suggested a while ago that an online streaming service - can be YouTube, Vimeo or whatever - could create an "independent" film channel. It can consist of videos of any size/length. Use monthly subscription and (targeted) ads to generate revenues. An individual short from a no-name, as most of us are (except Koo, of course), writer/director won't generate numbers. But a curated channel featuring 25-40 films monthly could just get enough interest globally with proper promotion. Select the videos on perceived quality and then rotate them based on their popularity/lack thereof. A hypothetical cost of such channel is zero, as the creator bear all the production burdens and the host service accept the responsibility for servers and payment collection. Then the revenues are divided based on the number of views or other formulas or individual agreements.
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In essence, the above is nothing new as such channels already exist. Some feature quick comedy bits; some parodies; others singing cats or cartoons. A few are extremely successful and most, I assume, are not. However, it is an accepted currently feasible model. It needs no inventions, no marked departure from the rules. And it can be done right now.
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I think the out-of-the-box ideas are wildly creative but not necessarily practical. My "channel" proposal is definitely not wildly creative but it is practical since it is being currently practiced ... by some other folks. Now, you just have to join the band.

November 18, 2013 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Yes, I agree, it already exists and, guess what, oh yes, it already exists. Who's going to care? You're still relying on the same viewing habits and essentially generosity of your end user. And we know that doesn't work.

I'm not sure my idea is that wildly creative to be honest. I've done a lot of work for Sothebys this year and the only difference between the art world and ours is the physical nature of the product.

Debate though is good.

November 19, 2013 at 3:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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No, we don't know if it will work or not and what model will be the most successful in the short or long run. Theoretically speaking, short film is what TV is all about. You have a 45 min drama short and the other guy has a "Breaking Bad" episode. You have a 20 min comedy bit and the other guy has a "Two and a Half Men" pilot. The difference is that top TV writers have proven themselves over the years of staff work and unsold spec scripts. And people do pay to watch "Breaking Bad" - via a third party called Netflix - and "Mad Men" and the "House of Cards" and so on. The question then becomes the ever diminishing willingness of the consumer to pay for the ever diminishing product quality. They'll watch the dancing cats and old music videos for free but they won't pay for the privilege of doing so. But maybe they will pay to watch your movie channel if they find your independent film worthy of patronage. And maybe they'll be even more inclined to pay if they thought this streaming channel had a sufficient bang for the buck - lower costs than Neflix or Amazon but a greater choice of the truly original material that may not work over a course of a long TV series. All we know right now is that most people don't know where to find what and why they should pay the asking price for an unknown creation. (In Warhol's or Bacon's case, they certainly know what they are getting)
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PS. I am about as far from a Marxist as you can find (I know - what am I doing on this site?) - so I won't spit at the idea of returning to the Medici era and seeking out wealthy patrons who could fund a relatively inexpensive production for the own personal satisfaction of being involved in the film industry. Of course, there's an existing form of this principle already in effect. It's called Kickstarter. Or Indiegogo.

November 19, 2013 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Totally, hence this idea that we need to understand people's viewing habits a bit better. I reckon if the medicis we're still a force today all their capital would be tied up in sports teams!

November 19, 2013 at 11:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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My thoughts:
- I collect short films (about 10 or so compilation DVDs, a couple of downloads, a couple of kickstarts)
- Short films are not worthless. I would gladly pay a reasonable price ($2-$3, up to $5 if it includes significant bonus materials) to own a GOOD short film, AFTER I have had a chance to watch it, and only if there is NO DRM.
- Artificial scarcity rarely works, and even less so for easily copied items.
- Video/Film art is a great artform, but it depends heavily on an environmental factor (installations, etc).
- Films in the traditional narrative format are meant to be seen by as many people as possible.
- By artificially limiting them like you describe, you turn them into something else and get them seen by even less people.

November 18, 2013 at 6:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shenan

I forgot to say, props for trying to come up with new ideas, though!

November 18, 2013 at 6:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shenan

Haha, absolutely. My feeling is that, rightly or wrongly, the scarcity thing wouldn't necessarily be about limiting access and limiting viewership but would be more about promoting, well, promotion. By creating a release window you can build buzz if you're smart and you focus all that attention into a single place. If it doesn't work then sure, put the film out in the general marketplace and go nuts. But if you do get it right then you build a window of extreme pressure around your film, helped in no short part by the other films around you. And it's designed to place the content far away from the easy buffet of other content that's out there. MAke it more like a fine dining experience.

November 19, 2013 at 3:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Here's the best idea I've heard (it came from CartoonBrew I think):
-Vimeo starts a new channel that's designated for premium content
-Watching a video on this channel costs you 5 cents.
-If you like the a video, you can share it for $1 (embed on social media), but this shared link is only watchable 20 times (you're basically paying 5 cents per share).
-If you really like the video, you can pay more to share the video more times.
-Voting system to filter out poor content.

November 18, 2013 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Derush

Okay, but again, you're working in the same model as paying for sports but with a pay per share element. Based on... yup, selflessness. Won't work, we just aren't that generous. What's in it for me?

I just don't see anything working unless we pander to a fundamentally selfish end user.

November 19, 2013 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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This is a great idea. Thanks for putting it forth. I've been hoping someone would put "it all together" in a sort of grand unified theory of film monetization. One that recognizes the mechanic of the market, scarcity and selfish behavior.

I certainly hope Vimeo or other platform makes a go of this.

November 18, 2013 at 9:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Lance Worthington

The notion of collecting a short film the way one would collect fine art is an intriguing enough idea to beat around. Overall I sense a generational shift away from owning, where my generation was obsessed with ownership/collecting. This does not bode well for this idea. The idea perhaps could challenge this move away from owning the object because if I understand the author correctly you are not actually owning any physical object. You are creating a virtual collection. I think the complicated part is in valuing this sort of ownership. Since film making is both time intensive and can require serious expenses. How do you value the product anywhere near the value of making it. Sponsorship is something thats been around the art world for hundreds of years and its certainly help make many an art film. Not sure what the collector in this concept gets that then don’t already get by sponsoring an art film.
You watch a film and the value is in that experience, there does not seem to be any market in limiting that experience. I think its quite the opposite, think about how large the market is for people that just want to experience art and how few people by comparison see the need in owning it. Owning art is for the elites and experiencing art is for the masses. Film though its history has been an art form for the masses. I don’t see digital technology changing that.

November 18, 2013 at 10:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Well, absolutely. How do you value the film? In the context of a director's work, possibly highly, possibly not at all. But this system is designed to inflate work artificially. There is no value attached unless you give it a reason to have one. This could be financial, it could be a deal with a studio, it could be monthly prizes, it could be all manner of things. Once we link performance to value then it works. If there's no reward then yes, what's the point?

If you stop thinking about value in purely pounds and dollars then it becomes a lot more interesting for everyone.

November 19, 2013 at 3:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Scanning some publicly available info on paid YouTube channels, I can only find that its roll-out has been very slow. If it hadn't been, they wouldn't have dropped the total subscriber requirement to have a paid program down to 10,000. But they do take a huge, theatrical tier cut, of 45% for the subscription revenues and pay out very low rates for advertising. Of course, right now, they have all the traffic muscle in the world. This probably leaves an independent "short film" start-up channel as a risky investment bet. One would need to have own advertising, such as what NFS has, plus a bit of a Kick-Starter'ish motif of packaging videos, merchandising, souvenirs and so on from the visitors. or one could start up his own Netflix. It seems some people are already doing that. Generically speaking, the fixed costs of entering the streaming business is fairly low. The marketing expenses is what kills you.

November 18, 2013 at 11:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

You say that, "[W]e have to stop thinking about our work in terms of commerce. That’s the fundamental point of this." What about this isn't commerce? You're proposing people buy something. It’s no better then before, they can just watch it now for free anyway. The real problem here is film has no value. It’s base state is as a free thing. You're proposing someone buy numbers. That's what a film is, a bunch of 1s and 0s. The only value we can really offer is tangible, such as exhibition. Or perks. Or as a commissioned artist. Or perhaps exclusivity, to give you some credit.

But exclusivity is effectively classist, isn’t it? It is right for us to become the bitches of the rich? Are you right to suggest an environment where that is normal? Part of the beauty of cinema is that it isn't for the rich. It isn’t a piece of flattery. Like music it transcends class barriers, to the point where most people seem to have forgotten such barriers exist altogether. Me and a billionaire both drink the same coke and both have an iPhone. Do you really want to bring us back to a time when the renaissance happens in exclusive quarters? Where the rich get iPhones and I rotary phones?

Your idea also misses the deeper point of film. It is a functionary of culture, and culture is rendered inert by exclusivity. If we can’t all freely see it it becomes worthless. Fuck us filmmakers, we’ll have to make do. We don’t matter, we don’t deserve a dime. In truth we are street performers begging for change, easily ignored and rightfully so. Perhaps the solution is the proposition to the passerby that if he gives me some spare change I’ll be here next time he walks by. Therefore we need only make ourselves valuable to this passerby, rather then a fixture in the background of his life. The solution, really, is to be good enough. To entertain, enlighten, heal. The solution is quality. Short film is mostly unsuccessful in my opinion because it is almost always awful. It does not live up to Groundhog Day, Apocalypse Now, The Big Lebowski, Reservoir Dogs. That’s the real standard, not some other vague standard we invent to our own convenience.

The reality is there’s no solution but to be better at what we do. Everything else is denying the truth of the matter. We are worthless, an amusement. But make if we make something good the people will come.

November 19, 2013 at 3:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris

This is the wrong email address.

November 19, 2013 at 4:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris H

Thanks for taking the time, all good points and absolutely right to bring up.

So, to answer them...

Of course you're right this is commerce given another name, but who said anything about having to pay for anything? If you make it a flexible system, like monopoly, you trade based on desirability and availability. You can pay, you can loan, you can give away for free. It's entirely up to you. And you've made my point for me, film has basically become a worthless thing. There's no motive to 'own' it. When I've tried to do here is create a system which might restore that motivation. I'm not actually proposing that anyone 'buy' anything. I'm proposing that they be motivated to own and ownership have value. Financial maybe, but not necessarily.

Exclusivity. Where did I talk about exclusivity? I talked about limited windows to view but nowhere did I talk about exclusivity. Films have limited windows in cinemas but that doesn't make them the playthings of the idle rich does it? Equally, you can go and see a Monet or a Warhol in a gallery, free to the public, and when did that become classist? Ownership of those works commands high prices so why do people still buy them? In a world where we have so many choices it's deafening and blinding it's often the simple choice that's taken. Limit the window you can see something freely and you make that moment more special and you achieve th effect of focussing attention on it. Attention that gets spread around so thinly these days it's hard to get anything seen. You've rather missed the point I think,

Which leads me to your next point, art as a functionary of culture. What's the point of culture if it has no value? When a video blog has the same value as a film which has had hundreds of hours devoted to it how are we to place any kind of cultural value in anything? If you want to put your film out to the general public, freely and easily, then do so. What I'm proposing here is a system in which the cultural standing of work is actually placed front and centre, it's much more important. Curatorship is the only way that cultural value can be established and his whole Eco system is fuelled by an obsessive, selfish urge to curate.

The argument that we need only be good simply doesn't wash. So much good work is never seen because people have too much else going on. And your argument that most short films are awful is also meaningless. Awful, to you. You might not like something but that's your opinion. You make a point about classism but you've just written off a vast body of work, most of which you've never seen so are in no position to judge based on your own prejudices. Some might call that snobbery.

If we want better feature films and a more vibrant, diversified, interesting marketplace then we need to give the guys with the money a reason to invest and we need to give interesting filmmakers some kind of platform to test their ideas and their point of view in a safer way. This might not be it but you can't deny that.

November 19, 2013 at 6:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thanks for replying, I really appreciate it.

For the sake of efficiency I’m just gonna quote and refute to the best of my abilities. I don’t mean to be rude, though it seems to come across that way. Just tired.

“who said anything about having to pay for anything?” Why put something behind a wall if not paid to do so? Sure, give distribution rights out for free, but not ownership. That’s a different deal. If I’m gonna give ownership to a guy for free I’d just as well make it creative commons.

“Where did I talk about exclusivity?” What is a certain group of people having access to something and not another other then a state of exclusivity? “limited windows to view” is a state of exclusivity.

“Films have limited windows in cinemas but that doesn’t make them the playthings of the idle rich does it?” Sure, because anyone can pay to go see a movie. It’s cheap enough historically. Everyone pays the same, generally.

“Equally, you can go and see a Monet or a Warhol in a gallery, free to the public, and when did that become classist?” It’s not. It’s the ideal. But not every Monet and Warhol is available to the public. Is that wrong? Not sure, but it’s not the same matter as with a film. A painting is a real singular thing you can touch. It isn’t copiable numbers.

“What’s the point of culture if it has no value?” You’ve rather missed the point I think. Culture has no ‘value’. The hundreds of hours devoted to it aren’t necessarily relevant, though they tend to show through. Objectively speaking a video blog has just as much a claim as a feature film. It’s up to the culture to decide however it sees fit. There is no justice here. There is no fair. It just is.

“What I’m proposing here is a system in which the cultural standing of work is actually placed front and centre, it’s much more important.” This isn’t about it’s cultural standing because the culture doesn’t get the option to see it necessarily and in practice most probably. Or rather only a thin, most probably wealthy slice get to. Therefore it is a classist system. It emphasises the rights of the privileged. I hope you understand why I find that unacceptable. “Curatorship is the only way that cultural value can be established” How so? Cultural value is cultural value, regardless of merit. Regardless of how you or I would judge it. Regardless of how healthy it might be. “this whole Eco system is fuelled by an obsessive, selfish urge to curate.” By whom? The powers that be. It’s just a new version of what has already been. Another goddamn Hollywood. Granted the curation doesn’t inherently hurt anything, the logic is sound, but it wouldn’t actually work that way. It’s would certainly be selfish, and not in a good way. Not in a way that is healthy for our culture. It’d be exclusive, even if not inherently. You can open up a Hollywood Studio right now if you like. Wouldn’t be awfully practical though, so though it’s not inherently impossible, it is effectively impossible.

“So much good work is never seen because people have too much else going on.” Maybe. But great? Yeah, even then you’re probably right. This little nugget might be my downfall.

My argument that “Short film is mostly unsuccessful […] because it is almost always awful” is unsound but to be quite honest I don’t care. Doesn’t it get the point across at least? It’s could be the problem with the state of short film. It’s a worthy suggestion, and I think it’s true, admittedly strictly as an opinion. It’s awful to me, yes. But not to you? Seriously? I find most professional feature films to be utter crap, let alone short film, the playground of Amateurs. That is with exceptions, I say mostly and almost always for a reason, not for decoration. I love some short films, but the amount of times I try to watch a film on Reddit but have to close it because of how unbearably wrong it is has me thinking that it’s far from the norm. Know that I’m not writing off Short film just as I’m not writing off Music or Feature films or just about any art you can name. In fact this is starting to show the necessity of your own argument, that the problem with Short Film is there’s no filter. But then most potential good shorts probably became features and you know why. Regardless, you can call me a snob. Who’s so sensitive they can’t stand being a snob. Sure I’m a snob. I only care if I’m right.

And on your last point, you’re absolutely right. But I think what we have is fine. Only the best can make it to the top. Fine by me. We need stronger meritocracies, but preferably not ones effectively run by a certain class of people (not necessarily the rich, I’m just halfway to a Marxist) through a strictly defined system such as you suppose. I just don’t think it’ll work out well. It doesn’t jive with me. Suppose that’s why I’m so insistent that something is wrong without having the answers. I might as well say it, given it’s late and I’m uninvested. And I don’t want you to mess this up if you succeed.

November 19, 2013 at 7:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris H

It's funny, I think we're arguing by and large the same points, but from very different perspectives. You see shorts as overwhelmingly underwhelming. I find the number that are made overwhelming and am underwhelmed by most of them.

As far as the value of culture goes, I do get your point completely. However, I do completely disagree. Culture absolutely has value. That value is cherished and jealously guarded by communities. How you quantify it is entirely up to the community in question but to call it inherently valueless is to disavow one of the defining characteristics of man as a species. That's something I cannot get behind.

I also completely disagree with you on the exclusivity thing. But let's let that one lie. As with filmmaking itself, democracy doesn't work, a benevolent dictatorship is much the best way to go!

November 20, 2013 at 1:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BTW, your blog has malware on it Robin.

November 19, 2013 at 4:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yes it does! Designing a new site at the moment, I'd actually taken the blog offline as I wanted a google search to turn up my work as a director not as a blogger! Cheers

November 19, 2013 at 5:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Well, I hope the site is offline in it's entirety. We without want those without any knowledge of security bumping into your homepage. Either way, best to have Google paint you as a blogger than as a distributor of malware (they haven't flagged your site, yet).

November 19, 2013 at 5:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Any chance we could see your 40-minute piece?

November 19, 2013 at 5:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Find me on twitter and I'll send you a DM.

November 19, 2013 at 6:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Following you on twitter.

November 19, 2013 at 12:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sometimes I realize that many of us are not as unique as we like to imagine we are. All of us are trying to come up with new ideas of distribution/marketing/creation/funding/whatever. All of us are trying to network. All of are trying to do something different. All of us... are filmmakers?

Maybe the rise of the middle-class truly will be the downfall of man-kind, as predicted by philosophers.

November 19, 2013 at 5:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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That's deep! Somewhere along the line you just realise that actually the only thing standing in the way is a lot of hard work. The rest is just luck.

November 19, 2013 at 6:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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You gave me a lot to think about, Robin. So thanks for that. Tensions are running pretty high in the comment section, so everyone involved at least acknowledges the importance of this topic.

What might be interesting to see, is the relationship, that will form between the artist and the owner. How much will it influence the artists work? I'm not looking for answers here, just trying to take part in the conversation.

Also it's really painfully obvious to me, how important the actual cultural habit of going to the cinema to see something different and exciting is. But it's not about the actual place though, it's more about a mindset, in which you are willing to experience something with complete focus. So going to the cinema just makes it easier for us.

Film/video really has become Fast Food for many people. Just look at what the average successful YouTube Video is like. Yesterday I had the great chance to see Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" on 35mm. Most people I talked to afterwards would not call it 'easy' or 'relaxing' etc., but I bet they will still be thinking about it in a couple of days. And many said, they would like to see more of this sort. And not just another Transformers sequel (-> Fast Food).

For me personally that's the biggest challenge, not only in the film industry, but all creative endeavors. As long as there is cultural appreciation for art/music/video/film etc. and especially for 'the unexpected' (which is a great part of what I would call art), there will be people, who are willing to pay for it.

That's where I see potential in your ideas. Creating (restoring?) a sense of appreciation for the unknown/unexpected and video/film as a piece of art. Not just pure entertainment.

So kudos for sharing your thoughts with us. Like every discourse this is a matter of debate. Which to some it seems almost impossible to take part in with some politeness.

Cheers

November 19, 2013 at 10:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Cheers Tim,

I actually think this has been pretty civilised and pretty interesting. It's very easy to get sucked into tub thumping about this whole business. I don't really like being an evangelist for thinking but I tried to understand the whole problem from the inside out and put forward an idea that might work as a thought experiment. I've been lucky enough to emerge from shorts into features with my dignity intact at this stage and I could happily go on my way but I really feel we need a better apprenticeship system for directors to develop in. Whatever that is, or could be, has become a bit of a passion for me and I'm trying to help younger directors avoid some of the traps I fell into. This is just a product of my years spent working in marketing, absorbing the thinking of really smart business peeps. It's not my system to build, reform or create, and I'm thankful for that.

November 19, 2013 at 11:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I come to this site almost every day and read whats been posted. I'm not a so called film maker. I'm just a person learning to shoot and edit better, or just a person learning to trying to get better. A hobby for me.

I see a lot of posts from time to time on how to get your film out there and maybe make some money from it, or get your self notice for the work you can do. I seen a Charlie Rose interview a person a few years ago about the entertainment movie and TV industry. The guy said we where being rip off. A great movie only every 10 to 15 years. TV what CBS had 3 CSI shows on a week. Look at all the old reruns on TV. Now my wife will watch a lot of the new sitcoms on TV. I myself watch only a few and find myself going channel hoping late a night trying to fine something I would like to watch and fine very little I have not seen. I end up firing up the DLNA server and watching videos from YouTube or Vimeo of people that I have got to know from the internet. That have content that I like.

Being in to computers from 1982 and the internet from 1994 and then seeing what broadband and bandwidth has done for video. I have said to myself if someone can come up with a good show or movie. They should be able to see how people like it and if they can get notice. I found Live from Daryl's House that way and watch it on TV now on Palladia. I would not mine paying to see a good short film or TV show online. Even like someone doing a YouTube or Vimeo channel and have yearly subscription to watch the channel. Even this website I would pay like $12 a year to come and read and learn from whats on it. I do that for a motorcycle forum every year. They have ten thousand members paying that.

I like stuff like Whitestone put's out. I found them on Vimeo. Just my thoughts from a 58 year old auto retiree.

November 19, 2013 at 11:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Michael Bishop

I think it's great to open up a discussion on this. Robin, as I think we both agree short films, excellent ones in particular, are generally under-represented and therefore generally under-appreciated as an art form. Buzzed up festival winners,Staff Picks or Short of the Week in particular are the only curated platforms I really trust give me satisfaction for my time investment of about 15 mins during my busy days.

I haven't had the time to fully digest the whole article, so forgive me for misinterpreting anything that you may have covered, but what is the ultimate end-game for the value of shorts? I can see a lot of people are missing the point, that it's not a cry for a monetisation platform, but really, what do we hope to accomplish with shorts besides using them as calling cards?

My 2 cents, is that for value to grow, so should the interest in the format. My point is - no one cares about short films. I'm not talking about those of us in the thick of, or the outskirts of the film industry, or the small percentage of the cultured general public interested enough to care or attend festivals. I'm talking about the majority of the population. I work in an office of 500 artists in the film VFX industry, for christ's sake, and never have I heard anyone talking about or sharing 'this really cool short film'. There's no mass demand. And it's a shame! I've come across a couple of shorts this year easily as powerful as some of the features.

I think a potential way to add interest and buzz to the format would perhaps be to have short film screenings before feature film presentations at cinemas. I'm talking about the Pixar format. It works for them, clearly. I don't know if the buzz they generate is enough to cover production costs, but I can't see why logistically, other studios couldn't adopt the same format and begin turning the short film into a viable, commercial art form. Inventive live action shorts directed by and starring well known names... I'd be into that.

Who knows, if people were involuntarily exposed to shorts in this way, maybe they'd start getting a taste, and with that, more demand for the professional amateurs to fill the gaps between the triple-A screening experiences. It becomes a much more accessible platform for excellent filmmakers to break into.

The digital age has brought us so many now commonplace forms of freely distributed entertainment, from web comics and podcasts (from which some people can make a living), that I don't see why short films, with a little direction from tastemakers and gatekeepers, could too not become a 'household' artform.

I don't know, I'm rambling, don't know what my point is. I'm not arguing against anything. Just thought I'd lay a few thoughts down!

November 19, 2013 at 11:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The system works. The cream rises to the top. Robin you are proof of this. You have been grinding out work for the last few years, developing your craft, working hard, experimenting, getting out there in an honest way. You have worked your way into doing what you want, directing features. The next one will be better than the last. You will have a career.

Alternatively you can call yourself a filmmaker, talk about making a film for years, proclaim it will be very good regardless of having very little experience in directing or producing much work. This is the environment we are living in. The entitled who think because they can afford a RED will produce great work without putting in the work.

Good for you Robin. You did it instead of talking about it.

November 19, 2013 at 2:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jess

Art and film are closely related and alway view art and film in a similar manner.

I feel film has become taken for granted and the best way to make your film worth something again is not to get it online but to create your own exhibition, keep it small. To have something that can only be viewed offline initially may be the only way to get the buzz going again.

November 19, 2013 at 3:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Deanie

I love the approach Robin, always love how you try to look at the big picture.

I think the fundamental flaw is the emphasis on value of ownership of media in a digital era. There certainly are those collectors that like to own films they love, or by directors they love, but usually that also includes a physical format which seems to be lacking from this equation.

Also, if they own it, is it something they can download? With DRM? Lately the trend has been against DRM media and this system seems to rely on that to increase rarity and value. The closed ecosystem makes it difficult for those who legal own (license?) the content to actually enjoy it.

Like you said, it's very against the grain and that's why it could work, but I think the audience of vimeo and the audience of film collectors that have similar value doesn't overlap as greatly as we'd hope.

Wish I could say I had some brilliant alternate idea but as a whole, I don't have an idea to change the system but only niche ideas that would work on specific films like your graphic novel idea (which sounds awesome by the way and I would totally buy).

Cheers,

Nate

November 19, 2013 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I think most art at auction houses was made by artists who are dead at the time of auction. Part of the "scarcity" value might be due to the fact that the artist won't be making any more. And because they are unique, tangible objects, of course.

Bill Viola experimental videos play at museums and galleries. Matthew Barney did the Cremaster Cycle: he sold DVDs at $100,000 a pop...according to Wiki. But are those the kinds of films you'd like to make?

It looks like filmmakers, now that the tools of the trade are so accessible and so many have taken it up, are in the same boat that aspiring painters, all visual artists, writers and musicians have been in for a long time.

November 19, 2013 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Taylor

I should add that I'm not a filmmaker but someone who dropped by to learn something.

November 19, 2013 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Taylor

Our films would have more value if we learned to trust more in the benevolence of the creative impulse. A qualitative action has the potential to travel far further than a quantitative one, regardless of the medium used for transmission. I personally bury all my short films on usb sticks inside watertight containers for future generations to dig up. I wonder if they'll have Quicktime in 2082? In any case, I except their stories will still be built from the mystery that is the human condition.

November 19, 2013 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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AidyCzyk

FWIW, in the olden days - before there was even TV - shorts were shown before the main features. That's how the Three Stooges came about. These days, shorts have been replaced by commercial advertising and even the features length has been curtailed to be able to cram more showings into a weekend.

November 19, 2013 at 9:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

So, let's wrap this up then and thanks to everyone for chiming in on this whole issue.

This whole idea of ownership of material seems to be confusing. Ownership equals eight to exploit within the system. Think of it like trading cards.

Exclusivity. I don't see this as exclusive or limiting, it's just about focussing the right attention in the right way at limited times. If people want to see your film at other times then they can just ask. The system works very much like a feature release window. That's good training.

Financial rewards. I don't know what financial rewards could be possible but you couldn't impose that on the system, it would have to find it's own feet. I think many assumed I was suggesting charging people to watch films. Yes, of course you could. It's more about creating exciting dynamic trading and exhibition strategies which get people excited based on a set of tools with complete flexibility. No -one really seems to get the partnership between creator and consumer which to me is the most exciting part, that idea of patronage. Ah well.

Finally, not a single person has mentioned the giant elephant in the room. No. Not piracy. Film is not like art for one particular reason that is very important to me. It's a collaborative art form. If I buy a Warhol then 's a Warhol. Yes, he had a studio and people creating work based on his methods, screen printing unique copies and that's the same as it's always been but the work is fundamentally that of a single creator.

Film is not this. Director's take all the credit and this is both unfair and wrong. The artistic and singular input of a huge collection of talented individuals, actors, production designers, camera dept, wardrobe, production etc. Etc. Contribute to the process. I don't think it's possible to claim ownership of a film in the same way as a piece of art.

Not a single person mentioned this but to me it's the single greatest reason why this would never work. Resentment. Fascinating.

November 20, 2013 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Very thought-provoking piece, Robin. It's always good to see people thinking aloud about the future of media, whether that's distribution models, artificial scarcity or whatever it happens to be.

While I admire your fine art aspirations, I disagree with your premise and the analogy. Most of the examples you use in your article, from works of art to second hand cars, are physical things. Physicality is inherently ownable: only one person can own a Warhol, even though many people might see it. You cannot enforce that same ownership with digital media without resorting to draconian DRM, and we all know how well that's worked out for the music, film and video games industries.

What you're effectively talking about is going back to the past: treating films as though they are physical things shot on celluloid that can be 'owned' and then shown in a highly controlled manner. This model just doesn't exist any more, and trying to apply it to the way people now consume media just doesn't work for me. Plus, you're talking about a creative medium that is the antithesis of scarcity in many ways: when you make a film (or I write a script or whatever) we do it because we want it to be experienced by as many people as possible. Some people create art for private, personal reasons, but what we do is tell stories, and a story is nothing without ears to hear it and eyes to see it.

I'd much rather be talking about this in a pub with you over a few pints, because its the kind of fascinating conversation that could run on forever, but in closing I'll say one more thing:

The problem that you're trying to address here is one of 'perceived value', but I think you're concentrating on the wrong word: 'value'. You should be concentrating on 'perceived'. This is a marketing and packaging problem.

People consume films in many different ways across different cultures: if a Bollywood movie is less than 4 hours long, the Indian public feels short-changed. And yet we in the West assume a feature length movie HAS to be about 90 minutes because, well, it just does, right?

Wrong. That's just our cultural expectation. If Vimeo or Netflix or any other distributor was to start curating a high quality short film channel, marketing it strongly to people who feel like watching a decent, self-contained piece of drama but don't have two hours to spend, it might sell. I love watching films of an evening, but often I only have an hour before my Mrs gets back from yoga, so instead of a full movie I'll watch an episode of a TV show or something instead. If Sky had an on-demand Short Films channel complete with trailers and reviews, I'd probably watch it. And I'd probably love it, too. And then search for more films by directors or writers whose work I'd really liked. And suddenly people would start making short films and earning money for the good ones.

Don't you think that's a more realistic approach than treating film as fine-art? Be interested to know your thoughts. Maybe over a pint!

November 20, 2013 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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And, if a short film is successful, it may lead to a sequel. And then another. And there's your TV series in a nutshell. In other words, people watch "shorts" all the time. They never stopped watching it. From daytime soaps to "Mad Men".

November 20, 2013 at 2:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

+1

November 20, 2013 at 3:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

Thanks for the thoughts richard, it's been really fascinating seeing everyone's point of view. Definitely one to mull over a pint one of these days. Luckily I don't have to come up with the solution, but from the response it's clear people feel we could do with one.

November 21, 2013 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Loved the freshness of this article. Well done.

I think that the idea of digital distribution with this cannot work. However, I think it can and should be done. Like you said, supply is the key issue. Thus, the best way to manage this system would be through actual art or film showings. Similar to what painters do, you hold an exhibition and only make ONE physical copy of your piece and sell that to the client for whatever they plan to do with it. It's a onetime sale like an art piece. If it goes up in value, the client makes the money and that's why they'll take the risk. Don't worry about not getting your five percent because if your work goes up in value so does your name and future works.

In short you'd have to hold the equivalent of art exhibitions for painters, sculptors and the like. You have some displays showing different films in different locations and have a price tag beside it or auction it. Heck, you could probably get a group of filmmakers together to do something like this or even start showing your pieces at present art exhibitions. You just need to find a progressive gallery. I think it's worth a shot and a damn good idea you have. Keep on it!

November 21, 2013 at 8:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Daniel Pisterzi

What if Netflix worked with Vimeo to create playlists of short films based around various themes, similar to how they do with the TED talks?

November 20, 2013 at 6:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Interesting article Robin. I definitely agree that short films have little value (currently) and that the nature of Vimeo / Youtube has effectively flooded the market with films. But I think that's why you have to look past Short films, a general audience are not interested in Shorts in my opinion, and why should they be when they are used to longer narratives (the success of TV in recent years and bingeing on series speaks to this). Long form is the desired narrative form, in the same way that people don't buy individual short stories, they may buy anthologies, but there is no market value for individual stories in the same way.

I'm also not sure that there should be a value for shorts, as you mentioned yourself you got the value out of your short making it. And that kind of hits the nail on the head, shorts are for filmmakers and the filmmaking community, a chance to flex your muscles, hone your skills, driving lessons for the big journey of making a feature. And I think they should be left like that.

That being said I like the idea of curating exhibitions online and think this is something you should start, online film festivals would be really exciting (I've sort of done that when judging for film festivals online) and it's a lot of fun having films curated for you. I think Vimeo would be a great platform for that, but again it relies on advertising, pitching to the right audience and finding the time / enthusiasm / funding to do that. And monetising shorts isn't going to happen anytime soon. It's very important to debate this though! Also you never said what you are doing with your short?

November 20, 2013 at 2:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Exhibitions and curatorship are what festivals are all about. Perhaps we could take it local and reach out to an ever growing body of filmmakers. Atom films first started showing short films and touring them... before hte 5d craze, but it makes me wonder if the site was just a few years before it's time.
Screening live is important as that's truly social. It's too easy to tune out another short online. But a small touring fest like Future Shorts has tremendous potential as it can take it's body of programs anywhere and then offer a prize to locally produce a film. This is the future I think. Capitalize on your fanbase (in this case filmmakers).

November 20, 2013 at 7:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kevin

I've said this before, but personal experience has shown...

- Made several shorts in film school. Didn't serve me at all.
- Made two DIY feature films. Sold both.

So, unless someone wants me to elaborate, I'll say what Michael Rymer said to me at a cocktail party (it's less glamorous than the sentence sounds, I couldn't even afford a drink at the time and worked at a clothing retail shop...)
"Shorts? Can't sell shorts, mate. Even if you could, would you want to be a short film director as a career?"

Don't get me wrong, they have their function (ie. Learning tool, pitching tool, festival admission/mingle card, resume padder), but ultimately a feature will (more often than not) speak 10x more. As my colleague would say, "No one f**kin' watches shorts. But fests still screen them."

November 20, 2013 at 3:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brock

Spot on. Shorts are interesting, but ultimately they are just like demos. Carrying a story for 40mins is not the same as creating multiple story arcs that span 90mins. It's nowhere near the same discipline.

November 21, 2013 at 8:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MightyMouseFilmMaker

Well, as probably the only person in this conversation who's actually made both a 40 min short and a feature film I can tell you with great certainty that they are exactly the same discipline. It's exactly the same discipline as making a 30 sec short, it's just harder the longer your film is.

And when did feature films become all about multiple character arcs? It's perfectly possible for a micro short to tell multiple story arcs and equally possible for a successful feature film to carry only one story arc.

At the end of the day shorts only have no value if we accord them no value. That's where we're at now. I can't change that, but if we could we might improve the health of all film forms.

November 21, 2013 at 9:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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That's a very big assumption. I made the comment because I have done both, several times. Ignorance is cheap? Maybe pull back on the ego.. What movies don't have multiple story arcs? If only the lead character progresses, we're back in film school. Linear stories with no connection from the viewer to the people the characters interact with. It's the first sign of a virgin screenplay. It's also a sure way to limit the emotional connection to a movie.

November 21, 2013 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MightyMouseFilmMaker

Haha, I feel bad for you if you've been through the pain of making several 40 min shorts, that's got to be harsh. Ignorance is cheap and I'm not going to apologise for calling you out on it. You're confusing your own taste with what audiences can and do want to see. If Castaway, Buried, or Wrecked, or to a lesser degree Gravity, did nothing for you then that's entirely up to you. I've got pretty thick skin so you can insult me to your heart's content but to demean not only successful directors and films but film schools as well... Kind of have to applaud you.

Anyway, you pick a tone to write in don't be surprised if that's how a response comes back. I can't wait to see all your forty minute shorts!

November 21, 2013 at 3:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Good name drop, that always goes down well!

It's funny isn't, we actually all watch shorts constantly but no-one calls them that. News items could count as shorts, youtube videos certainly do. That argument is basically a load of crap.

What you mean is no-one gives two shits about the abbreviated version of their beloved feature films. And no, we probably can't change that.

However, cricket was losing audience figures fast and somehow found a way to make T20 sexy enough to revitalise the game, creating a field in which those who wouldn't make it as test players could use their talents differently.

Yes, that's an enormous stretch but what I'm aiming at is the same basic idea.

November 21, 2013 at 9:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I suppose I could always say, "This director I once met at a party told me _____(Fill in anecdote)____"

I can't meet you halfway on the cricket example, but I'll see you on 'youtube/news items/etc' are shorts. Most definitely, they are. Was this thread geared to news items though? Legit question, I commented on the thread at a poor time so I skimmed. I gathered they were referring to a 'traditional short film' (ie. narrative film under feature length, not news items, commercials, etc.)

If anyone is making a living off 'traditional short films' I'd love to hear about it! (Seriously, that's a sweet gig!)

November 21, 2013 at 8:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brock

I know man, it's ridiculous how splintered and messed up the whole landscape has become but the worst we thing we can do is just moan and bitch about it. For me the appeal of features is really the premium nature of all the contributors, it's just where all the people I want to work with are all working. I love the work, I love the collaboration and I really felt the mechanism to getting there was so obscure and difficult and unhelpful that I wanted to see if we might be able to make the ramp up there a bit smoother. Probably not but an idea's an idea!

November 22, 2013 at 2:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I hear ya. And don't get me wrong - I'm not bitching and moaning about the filmmaking process. Like I said, my shorts didn't really serve me any, but that doesn't mean squat as there are tons of examples where they launched careers.

Obscure and difficult should be the motto of the film industry... or the entire entertainment industry, for that matter. My follow-up feature was the definition of obscure. In a nutshell, the project went from a 15k, no-name cast with a skeleton crew to a much larger budget (still pitifully small compared to 'low budget' films) with some recognizable names attached and a large production team behind us in less than a few months. Fast forward 20 or so days after principal photography and we sell US rights (and others), sight unseen. I'm still a young pup in this game, but even I know that's not the normal process of things.

All in all, makin the damn thing (feature or short) is all that seems to matter...

November 23, 2013 at 1:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brock

People have been bugging me to see the short film I talk about in the post. Obviously, I can't actually show it at the moment because it's doing its festival thing but we did just throw up a trailer which you can see here:

https://vimeo.com/79989738

November 21, 2013 at 11:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Great article. The only place shorts are making money is YouTube. And they can make a lot of money virally but it's a crap shoot. I personally know two Youtube artists who make their living from Youtube sketches from anywhere $2-10k per month average, as well live appearances, most of the content is shot on webcams or point and shoot. Some shorts have also acted as career launch pads for directors but they need to go viral, such as the upcoming Ricardo de Montreuil's "The Raven" or Andrés Muschietti's "Mama". But I feel all those movies left enough questions to create a movie from, perhaps they were written as a pitch. They all have excellent FX which make them stand out compared to a lot of other shorts, similar to the Fede Alvarez demo reel "Ataque de Pánico!" that went vital getting an agent and his first movie gig "Evil Dead." These days standing out and putting the word out is the key. Just my humble two cents...

November 21, 2013 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PhilP

Excellent piece of writing Robin - well presented ideas and very thought provoking.

However I find a few issues/flaws with you propositions (apologies if these have already been discussed - I haven't read all the other comments yet).

The first is with piracy. You touched on this, but failed to really mention the biggest issue is that the majority of fine art (which you base most of your comparisons on) is a physical asset, whereas the majority of film these days is a digital asset. As such, I see the only way for your model to be fully successful is for it to be offline, and for films to be traded and screened as hard copies only. Of course, that would require a huge amount of trust to ensure these hard assets are not copied. But systems do exist, such as coding random pixels of every copy so at least the sources of leaks can be identified.

Following on from this, you refer several times to your new definition of the consumer as the collector. Well, what about the viewer?

With fine art, people want to see the original physical asset. Often a print or reproduction isn't good enough (this goes without saying for any art that is 3D such as sculpture). Someone may own a print of the Mona Lisa (for example), but they'll still want to see the real thing... so they can admire the texture, brush strokes etc, and also for sentimental value. However, I'm sure they don't care where they see it: as long as it's presented well, it could be anywhere!

I don't think think the same can apply for short film with digital distribution/screening, and this ties back to piracy. If the "original" of the film is acquired by a collector and screened on their online gallery, and that copy is ripped by a pirate and then the pirate hosts the film (in exactly the same quality as the original) on their own online "gallery", then that immediately makes the collectors assets worthless. Viewers of the pirated copy will have seen something which is 100% identical to the original (something that a fine art print/reproduction can never be) and therefore have no reason to go to the "gallery" where the original "hangs". This renders the collectors assets worthless, and destroys and value in collecting completely. What's the point of paying to collect pieces if identical copies are floating around the web? Is the copy if an MP3 track on iTunes server any more valuable than the one I downloaded? No, it's not (although I did pay for the privilege of downloading it).

Ok, so you did say: "What’s more, any copy of the film outside the ecosystem would also be worth far less than the ‘original’. It’s only within the framework itself that the value has any tangible meaning". Well, only if your target audience is the collector. Your target audience should be the viewer. As I've said above, if it is the original (and with digital piracy a copy can be 100% identical to an original) the viewer doesn't care where they've seen it. They will enjoy the film just as much if they see it on the pirate site as if they see it on the gallery site.

Take the whole thing offline, and you open up a whole discussion about factors outside the film itself that can affect the viewers enjoyment (such as cinema quality - Mark Kermode's (rather naffly written) "The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex" hosts some great thoughts on this topic).

One other problem with your model which I'm not going to get into in a lot if detail as I'm writing this on my phone and my finger is getting sore from tapping (so sorry for typos, haha) is that the majority of fine art (etc) is created by an individual and the majority of film is created by large groups of cast and crew. This, of course takes us back to the topic of finding the film in the first place and remuneration for everyone involved.

November 26, 2013 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nez

Yes indeed Nez. The issue of piracy I actually did address, more in terms of creating a system in which pirating actually had no meaning. I,e. The ability to watch something was not what gave it value but rather the chain of ownership, as tenuous as that might be. My feeling, rightly or wrongly, is that any kind of subscription model will knock out most casual piracy at the first hurdle. I actually think you could happily circumnavigate piracy fairly easily with the right model.

Your second point is the more valuable one. Your the only person to have raised it and as you'll see me mention above it's where the whole thing falls down. Fine art is more often than not created by studios of artists working under the main artist so it's not so far fetched but yes, the basic idea of ownership doesn't work.

If nothing else I hope this maybe got some people thinking about what the value of their shorts actually was and maybe to think in longer time frames of a body of work rather than just project by project.

November 26, 2013 at 3:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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For sure, if nothing else you've opened up an interesting discussion, given loads if good for thought and offered a "solution" or at least option I've certainly never encountered before!

I've often thought that Vimeo would do well to have an advertising supported Freeview digital channel to showcase the week/month's best work (curated or by popularity, or both). I'd watch that , for sure. Sometimes I want to just lazily sit on the sofa, flick on a TV and be fed manageable chucks of engaging quality content without having to use a mouse and without having too much choice (the internet). I think that would be ace.

Ithere could also be the prion of slots where the filmmakers/producers themselves can actually pay to have their films featured in a prime slot.... perhaps.

Vimeo's AppleTV app is awful.

November 27, 2013 at 5:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nez

I don't know if its the cuts or the order those clips where put in the trailer but something about that trailer kind of gives me a cheesy feel. I'm sure the writing is good but the trailer doesn't do it for me.

November 27, 2013 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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waymakerproduction

Tony Gilroy had a tough time getting Michael Clayton shot and distributed. Even with the Bourne series and his track record he still had a very difficult time getting distribution and promotion lined up. It almost didn't happen.

Ridley Scott said of 'Blade Runner' that it was an artistic venture born out of his artistic training and background. Yet, he also said that we are in a business and it's our job to put as many "bums" in seats and ultimately make money. I whole heartedly agree.

I love the thinking in this post and we can take a lot of good ideas and challenges away from it. But ultimately, as filmmakers we want our films to reach the widest audience possible within the market we're aiming for. Is Michael Clayton all things to all people? No. But it's very close to being all things to all people who like that type of story and style. Same with Blade Runner. So, why set up a model that inherently limits our wides possible target market/viewership?

It boils down to promotion, marketing and turning no's into yes' when it comes to reaching our audiences. It won't change if we have Tony Gilroy credentials or Tarantino credentials of working in a video story pre-Pulp Fiction. What all the greats have in common is that they dug deep and created not only their films but the environment to distribute them.

Look, Before Enlightenment Man Carries Water. After Enlightenment, Man Carries Water.
So while the technology has changed, the game hasn't. Filmmaking, like business and life, is a contact sport. We not only have to make the films but we have to make the environment we need to flourish.

December 2, 2013 at 4:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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i think thats a really rad idea,

March 14, 2014 at 6:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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HVisuals

I feel that short films are the wave of the future as people’s attention spans grow shorter and shorter. I believe that short films can be monetized and I am out to prove it. I just successfully raised the funding for my martial arts proof of concept short film which I will be shooting at the end of July..

I have also created a distribution model to monetize the Black Salt short film. Through my distribution model I have already sold 293 VOD pre-sales for $2.99. My goal is to sell 50,000 VOD’s. I refuse to give my short film away for free, but I will give away the 30 second trailer. If we can monetize short films it will change the distribution landscape forever and filmmakers could at least make a living. Join me on my crusade to monetize short films. www.blacksaltfilm.com. If anyone would like to give me feedback on my distribution model email me: owen.ratliff@gmail.com

June 1, 2014 at 1:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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