February 27, 2014

The Only Way to Save the Movie Industry is to Give Up On Your Dreams & Stop Making Indie Films

"We believe if we can convince enough aspiring filmmakers to give up on their dreams, the industry will become solvent again, returning to a thriving and viable state." Yes, you read that correctly. Actor/Director Kentucker Audley (who runs the NoBudge website and makes no budget indies himself) wants you to give up filmmaking and stop flooding the market with your mediocre films. Before you get out your torches and pitchforks (Audley is not being serious), let's take a look at what's actually going on in the independent filmmaking industry. Despite the satirical brashness of Audley's request, there are legitimate economic concerns stemming from the influx of indie films into the market. Here's a brief breakdown:

Background

For the past 30 or 40 years, independent filmmaking has sustained a viable business model, at least for the most part. Far fewer independent films were being made, and there were far fewer methods of distribution. As a result, great independent films could make their way through festivals, get picked up by distributors, and make significant theater runs, thus turning profits for all parties involved. Not to mention that independent film-hungry audiences had very few ways to view indies other than their local theaters. Essentially, films could effectively cut through the noise in decades past, and make their way to audiences through traditional means.

Kentucker

Cut to the year 2014. The DSLR and Crowdfunding revolutions have created an atmosphere where independent filmmaking has been democratized to the point where it's available to anyone and everyone. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing (we'll talk more about that later), but it definitely creates a veritable plethora of economic problems for the industry in its current state.

The Problem

Several articles from major publications have surfaced over the past few months, which point out an array of problems that stem from the influx of independent films into an already-saturated market. Here's Manohla Dargis in an article from the New York Times.

There are, bluntly, too many lackluster, forgettable and just plain bad movies pouring into theaters, distracting the entertainment media and, more important, overwhelming the audience. Dumping “product” into theaters week after week damages an already fragile cinematic ecosystem.

The problem here stems from the fact that many of the independent films that are picked up for distribution are guaranteed a limited theater run (mostly for the press that it generates), despite the fact that they're primarily slated for on-demand distribution through the likes of Amazon, Netflix, etc. Because so many of these indies are guaranteed a theater run, they inherently drown out many of the films that would otherwise shine through with that distribution model.

In another article over at Salon, Beanie Barnes argues that these trends of overproduction and distribution actually make for a sad state of affairs for anybody looking to be employed by the indie film industry, especially considering the declining state of wages and labor practices in the industry:

All industries have to adapt to stay relevant and viable, and film is no exception. That is especially true in the U.S. where, unlike some other countries, the government doesn’t fund production as a cultural initiative. And if the challenges in the industry are not addressed, everyone in it stands to lose.

There is a very hard line between market competition and market saturation. With saturation, demand grows only if the population grows. Indie film seems to have hit that saturation point. And if the only way to help the industry grow is to increase the population (in this case, the audience), then the industry has to get serious about looking at how to increase demand.

Kentucker to the Rescue?

This brings us back around to Kentucker Audley and his petition to put an end to mediocre independent films. Here's the petition, in full:

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 2.50.05 PM

Our goal is 5,000 signatures. We believe if we can convince enough aspiring filmmakers to give up on their dreams, the industry will become solvent again, returning to a thriving and viable state. Film critics and film audiences will no longer be overwhelmed by the glut of mediocre indie productions, while the truly inspired and talented filmmakers will easily be discovered and embraced, able to receive the wide acclaim & financial gain they deserve. Distributors, theater owners, tastemakers, as well as audiences and critics, will delight in having far fewer films to choose from.

Note: if you're an indie filmmaker with commercial promise, please continue making films. (Don't sign) This list is made for the mediocre filmmakers who would otherwise be clogging up the indie arteries with undercooked, half-assed or nobudge productions. This includes anything small scale, anything personal, of course all mumblecore, and most other work with developing visions. (In other words, if you don't already have your artistry perfected, please sign up.)

I, Kentucker Audley, will be the first to sign up & look forward to you joining me in this quest to find another passion.

We hit 5,000 signatures and the industry is saved!

Thank you former indie filmmakers!

Please spread to all your talentless filmmaking friends.

Kentucker Audley

Despite the overly satirical tone of the petition itself (which is somewhat reminiscent of Swift's A Modest Proposal), it's almost impossible to deny that the film industry needs far fewer films in order to remain viable with its current business model. However, that brings up another important question: should we be striving to keep the independent filmmaking business model of yesteryear alive through sacrificing our passions for the greater good, or should we strive to change the business model to accommodate the influx of indie films into the ever-changing modern distribution landscape?

A New Way Forward

In terms of the two options presented above, it's no stretch of the imagination to say that most of the filmmakers I know, including myself, are greatly in favor of the second option, especially considering that we all start out as mediocre filmmakers.

How the overall indie business model needs to change in order to accommodate the needs of filmmakers, distributors, and audiences alike is a discussion for another day. However, it's clear that something needs to change in order for independent filmmaking to become a viable industry once again.

What do you guys think about the state of the independent film industry after the DSLR and crowdfunding revolutions? Does this well-aimed piece of satire from Kentucker Audley do anything to shed light on the issue? What can be done to put the industry back on track? Let us know down in the comments!

Links:

[via Filmmaker]

Your Comment

166 Comments

I agree that there is an over-saturation of independent films being produced and if you obviously don't have the talent and have been making films for years with no type of accolades or achievements then maybe you should consider doing something else. As the article states, we all start as mediocre filmmakers but I believe the great films will shine regardless of how many films are out there. It all comes down to how great the story is, the execution, and the passion behind it to get it where it needs to be, such as festivals and such. If it's a film that even your friends don't think is great or you aren't confident in then why pursue and dump more money into the marketing and distribution? We all know how many films enter in festivals and how man features get adapted from books, short films, etc but regardless, the great ones are gonna make it through if that filmmaker is passionate enough and has done a good job in getting an emotional reaction or keeping people entertained. At the end of the day films are entertainment and we have to remember, whatever it is we are creating, needs to be keep people interested and our main issue lies with people trying to be original with concepts instead of focusing on a story and it's characters and making it unique.

February 27, 2014 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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"I believe the great films will shine regardless of how many films are out there."
Unfortunately, I'm not so optimistic. The market is flooded. When you go past saturation point, the ability to connect to an audience is inherently and mathematically more difficult. Having passion, talent, and a good movie does not guarantee you get noticed. There's just too much noise. Everyone is yelling to be heard. People say, "well, the cream will rise to the top." No, SOME of the cream will rise to the top. And often because of luck or advertising dollars. The rest will be drowned out by the noise. It's a fact people need to accept. Great artists today will be unappreciated just like they were way back when. And far more so now, as more people become artists.

February 27, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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The only way this petition could really make a difference is if the entire team at the Asylum (www.theasylum.cc) signs it and stops producing their "movies". They are one of the biggest threats to the ecosystem that Kentucker is seeking.

Then again, isn't the music industry a similar situation? And yet I've never heard of a petition to stop all the talentless musicians from saturating the market with their noise. And musical instruments and DAWs have been much more accessible for much longer than cameras and NLEs.

February 27, 2014 at 6:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Darren

You can't stop change. The digital revolution has destroyed the old bussiness model of a lot of industries (music, books, communications), and ours is just another one of them. We have to accept that and move on.

February 27, 2014 at 6:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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@Darren - the music industry has been there since the 1950's. Once (virtually) anyone could afford a Tele or a Strat to go along with a Fender amp, he was deemed a musician. The music itself also became simpler compared to, let's say, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven. So, what happened after that ...
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PS. These days, one can go to a Guitar Center and buy a used Strat clone for ~ $50, a new 15w modeling amp for $100 and be ready to gig.

February 27, 2014 at 8:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

The best choice is always to let the market sort itself out. The companies that are best at making/distributing/marketing films will succeed and the ones that are not will fail. It may mean new models for doing buisness in the industry will emerge. The end result will be better films

February 27, 2014 at 6:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Bert

This is funny. But it's sort of encouraging people to look at it the wrong way, which I hope they won't. But here's the sad facts: the problem is the bussiness model, and it's only going to get worse.

In fact, I think the idea that cinema\movies are an industry is a dying idea. We have 4K on our phones now, and we still think we can wow people by telling them a good story? Making a film is getting to be as easy as writing, and I'm sure that pre-printing press people were angry at how easy that invention made it to make books in huge numbers and make 1 job to replace 10 or 100, but that's just how it's going to be.

February 27, 2014 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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The criticism of the NYT piece, 'too many bad movies', applies to Hollywood too. It's releasing plenty of garbage, due to the point made by the Salon writer: it has increased the population.

Thirty years ago, Hollywood was funded by the domestic box office, TV, and video sales/rentals. Foreign revenue was an afterthought. That turned around in recent years, so a huge chunk of the revenue is from foreign sales. And Hollywood is playing to its new customers, at the expense of the domestic viewers. Hollywood no longer cares about appealing to the domestic market.

As to mediocre film, there was always a market, made by low end production companies and students shooting 16mm. You didn't see much of it.

Today, there are two big changes to production: excess education & low barrier to entry.

When Spielberg, Coppola, Lucas, etc., graduated in the late '60s, there were very few film schools. Today, not only does every college seem to have a cinema program. There are also dozens, if not hundreds, of trade schools, masquerading as art colleges. Many of them lack accreditation, and they all seem to charge extremely high fees, in the neighborhood of $20,000/ year. You can make a lot more money teaching lots of people about your trade than you do practicing it. The trade schools release thousands of people into the industry every year, and there are only so many jobs. These people start out willing to work at any price to get experience.

Then there's the low barrier to entry with DSLRs. Anybody can buy a cheap camera now. That leads to two more issues. There are the amateurs buying cheap gear and gathering friends to work for free. And there are the low end productions reasoning that a cheaper camera means everything else is cheaper, namely labor. (Yes, I know some high end productions use this gear too, and pay real wages.)

What does that mean when someone comes up with $50,000 to shoot a movie? As you've no doubt noticed in discussions on this site, that means the producer/director will feed the crew and spend the rest on gear. Why settle for a 5D when you can buy a Scarlet? Why waste money paying an editor, sound mixer, and a colorist, when you can buy a Mac Pro and Premiere/Avid/FCP/Resolve?

That leads to one more point. How many blogs push gear, gear, gear? How many push skills?

February 27, 2014 at 6:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Charlie

I agree re excess education. I have turned down a number of job offers from schools. I can't sit in front of a class of 100 kids with a straight face. It's a scam.
The sites push the gear because a) the manufacturers have marketing budgets, b) the gearhead audience will give you lots of clicks and comments, and c) actually learning stuff is boring and hard.
Still, the cream does somehow always rise to the top. That's the part that amazes me every day.

February 27, 2014 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

And, d) America believes technology solves all problems.

So there's no need to work if the gear will do it for you. I remember the first time I saw 5D video, on a corporate shoot of an executive in a white shirt in a white room. I thought, wow, if they lit this, it would be stunning. The experienced shooter and director were gushing, "See this? We don't even need to light it!"

February 27, 2014 at 8:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Charlie

To much education? This is a silly comment. I've been teaching film for about 20 years (undergrad, grad, prestigious and unknown programs). For many students, a realization hits that they are not the talent they thought (or told everyone), but for others-- they realize they have something to say, know how to say it, and learning from their collaborators (as a Prof. I know I'm just a small part, that classmates matter more) has made it clear that IF THEY ARE LUCKY, they may find a place in the industry.

Likewise, anyone who wants to explore their desire to be an artist by going to school- why do you care? I'd rather have someone in debt who tried, than someone working a crappy job "wishing" and mad because they didn't.

Could one learn without school? Sure. BUT for many, going to school, being around a community of likeminded folks IS the reason.

(I say this believing that there are many film programs that don't cost a lot, and ways of paying that won't find a student with too much debt.)

February 28, 2014 at 6:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Chriss

I hope Kentucker stops making movies! Terrible Filmmaker

February 27, 2014 at 6:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sam S.

I wasn't considering looking this guy up, I have no idea whom he is or how he's in a position to push such an agenda, but then your comment changed that...

... I guess he's just made a lot of the same features that he's railing against, and finally decided that he should stop doing that?

He could actually just continue practicing his craft and not try to distribute it...

This kind of thing would make sense if it were coming from an A-Class producer/director, speaking out to his or her A-to-C-tier producer/directors; it's kind of ... not important coming from this place, but he's now getting extra publicity so good for him.

Disclaimer: I don't slander others' work, but I also don't try to drag people down with me. The cream ALWAYS rises to the top as long as you persevere and hone your craft. If you don't rise, it's not the fault of other filmmakers. =[

February 27, 2014 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kholi

They want to save a business model that is dying. Moreover, who gets to decide which filmmakers are truly inspired and talented, them? Hell with that.

February 27, 2014 at 6:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

People should make as many fantastic or crapy movies as they feel. That's like saying "since too many people are painting, you shouldn't express yourself by painting." I think this is fear based. "If too many sucky movies are out there, then people won't be able to find my great movie" type of thinking. Be free creative and create.

February 27, 2014 at 6:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I realise that this is being done in humor, but its wrongheaded even as satire.
I remember the days when you could carve out a living making absolute rubbish. Those days are better?
Just as 99% of soundcloud are wasting their time, so are 99% of no-budget filmmakers. And?
Personally I love having all this stuff to wade through. And just as I don't care whether the people who write the blogs I read are paying their health insurance, I don't care if 'indie' filmmakers are paying their student loans.
Its not my job to care. My job is to be entertained. And if you entertain me, I will pay you with money, or my 'clicks' or some other metric that earns you cash. If not, well they're aren't too many trust fund filmmakers who get beyond the 2nd one without either getting a lot better or going into auto racing. So if you're no good, you're broke, and I probably stopped watching your film 5 minutes in.
The idea that somehow 'good' art is being swallowed in the tide of the mediocre is a myth that's never stood up to much scrutiny, despite coming into existence 5 minutes after the invention of the printing press. More is better. The more democratic the access the better. If it makes 'gatekeepers' and 'tastemakers' (critics, fest programmers in this instance) have to work overtime, let me repeat: as the consumer, I don't care.
We are in the midst of a golden age in the amount of good visual storytelling being made. Seriously. If you need to divide it into studio/indie, features/TV/web its you who are stuck in the 20th C. I'll watch a 45 second TVC, 3min music video, a 5 minute short, a 200min feature or 12 hours of a Belgian TV drama, and if I enjoyed them to me they are all the same.
And the consistent quality across all of it will be mind-blowing compared to even 10 years ago.

February 27, 2014 at 6:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

Totally agree.
What is happening is the same that happened to indie music in the last decade,
The market changed, some big players got broke but things moved forward and we still have good music, do we?

February 27, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Martin

perhaps more people should go to film school!

February 27, 2014 at 6:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ryan

it's better to say. Stop making stupid films with large budgets. This call is comparable to say "hey guys, please do not cook healty and affordable food", please stop making cheap and healty food, wine and natual cigars, beacuse we need to save all these poison industries that make a lot of money.

February 27, 2014 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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abraham

It's a silly question, because the reduction of the number of indie films is not going to happen. This is just a pretend discussion. It's like trying to stop technology or culture from changing. Good luck with that.

I'm sorry all us filmmakers that didn't get at start in the 70s have to take a new route, or perhaps no route at all, but times change. The really good, important films are not in the theatres anyways, so if you are expecting to go to the local multiplex and see something like SUN DON'T SHINE (starring Kentucker Audly) then you will be pretty disappointed, and rightly so. To find those great, new, interesting and important films you're going to have to do some research and consider your movie viewing time incredibly valuable.

February 27, 2014 at 7:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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This 'article' is the biggest load of bullshit I have read anywhere in a long time. You say the petition is satirical but the whole piece here is written completely straight-faced. It's trolling at the highest level.

Make as many films as you desire and physically can!

February 27, 2014 at 7:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

You realize that satire derives its subject matter from real-world issues, right? Just because the petition itself is satirical doesn't mean that there's not a deep-seeded problem with the business model of the independent film industry. That's what the article is about.

February 27, 2014 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4283

A deep seeded problem? What exactly does that mean?

February 27, 2014 at 9:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Wow, so you think there's an actual point this this crap? Your deep "deed-seeded" (you mean deep-seated) problem is that 14 year old kids in the Philippines can use DSLRs to potentially make better films than you and get it seen by more people than through your precious cinema model.

ADAPT OR DIE.

February 28, 2014 at 5:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

I'm not sure why you're being so needlessly rude, especially considering that the point I made at the end of the article is that both filmmakers and the industry need to adapt in order for independent filmmaking to be an economically viable practice in the future.

February 28, 2014 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4283

Sign me up.

February 27, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

I SAY LET IT DIE! I don't care about the current Business Model. I am not in it. I will either Make it to the table or break the table trying! The Cream will Rise and I'm All in for a Free market!

February 27, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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PayDro

You're telling young men and women to give up on their dream before they even get a chance to show what they're capable of. What if one of them is the next Wes Anderson? Spielberg? Coen?
Sure, bad movies are being made. But that can stopped by having money been given to them. By giving the director money the people are putting trust into them that they will come out with a good product, right? How about the producers taking a closer look at the product before writing them a check. It's partly the producers fault too. This is an issue in which fingers are to be pointed at more than one group of people.

February 27, 2014 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mario

It's nothing more than a transitional period (although who knows to what?) and a boom in anything albeit cultural or industrial is likely to saturate and destroy certain things but out of that comes so much more. Where money is being lost and people go unseen, new people find a way to make a living and their art is discovered. Even something as brutal as a forest fire which is nothing but pure destruction when it's in motion can leave soil being more fertile than it was before and from that grows loads of other cool shit. Okay so not the same thing but I was pretty stoked with that analogy... And I too am of the school of thought that if you are good (and work damn hard - important bit) you'll stand out from all the crap. Basically people need to stop worrying and keep adapting. The most exciting thing about all of this is that nobody really knows what the rules are and we are the ones making it up... Just like making a movie eh ;)

February 27, 2014 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

Saturated or not, do what you love to do. Otherwise whats the point?

February 27, 2014 at 7:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Peter

Yup - what he said.

February 27, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

It's not an Indie problem, It's a service problem. Make a better service and everything will fall into place.

February 27, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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MoD

Tim Wu wrote a spot-on piece in The New Yorker that points out just how ludicrous Dargis's NYTimes column was.

It's a great read.

Here's a link: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2014/01/sundance-independe...

February 27, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Shawn

Film Festivals need to start paying for screenings: Film fests are popping up all over the U.S. with sponsorships and staffs and money to spend- they screen movies to the economic benefit of mid-sized city X, to basically zero benefit to the filmmaker other than exposure.

I can't image the last time I went to a Jazz Festival or Blues festival or whatever and the artists themselves were there for free. Chefs at food and wine festivals get a paycheck for their participation, why on earth do starving filmmakers fly all over the country to screen a film for free.

It doesn't seem to make sense to me.

February 27, 2014 at 8:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Doug

Translation: The big studios are upset that they have competition. Guess what? I'm not asking anyone for permission to make films.

The big book publishers are also upset about having competition. They hate the fact that authors have access to print-on-demand services.

February 27, 2014 at 8:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Glenn

Book publishers are upset that the "names they had created" don't need them anymore since they can make gazzillions via e-publishing which has essentially no physical costs and instant distribution. The moving image industry is almost there. A $1,500 (4K!) camera, $1000 worth of lights, $1,000 worth of accessories, a $1,000 4K recorder, a $1,000 editing station - all rentable in any large city or college town - and an online distribution at anyone's fingertips.
.
But you know what's even cheaper than that? Online journalism. All you need for that is a cheap PC and a web site. And I am saying that as an occasional practitioner of this endeavor too.

February 27, 2014 at 8:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Although several good arguments are shown in this forum, giving up on my dream is not going to happen. Even though the cinema is in the toilet for the moment, its not the indie film makers faults, its the big budget company's faults for releasing these films and not giving young directors a chance to make films, so they are forced to put their own money into short films that company's ignore unless they turn a profit. I don't see myself doing anything else but making films, until I get the shot, I will keep making short films. I don't agree with you Audley, I want to pursue my dream, and nothing is going to stop me.

February 27, 2014 at 8:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Chris

Oh dear, did you read the article before launching into a monologue on your dreams?? it's satire.

February 27, 2014 at 8:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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eckel

Unpopular opinion puffin says: Youtubers are the problem. Not all of them, just most. Those who make popular videos try to make something out of it for all the wrong reasons. Case in point, Fred. There, I said it.

February 27, 2014 at 8:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ghostie

What about a petition for the abundance of bad "Hollywood" films? There plenty of those these days as well.

February 27, 2014 at 8:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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derek

Let the industry flounder and die. If it can't sustain itself, it doesn't deserve to survive.

February 27, 2014 at 9:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jake

What artistry is ever perfected? Looks like everyone who ever made films before needs to sign.

February 27, 2014 at 10:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Caleb

Just like any market, if the flooding stops then the birth of new platforms, systems, solutions will not be realized. I don't think stopping filmmakers from making films is a valid solution. Who are we to say whats not good or whats good when it comes to artistic expression? Every member of the audience is entitled to his own critique. The triumverate relationship in art appreciation is the bottomline --- artwork - artist - audience. The main problem of the industry as I see it is that the FEW PEOPLE that represent the gatekeepers like the critics, the distributors, the festival curators, etc are those that are now IMPLODING. They are now at a loss as to what will be accepted and what will not be accepted by the audiences. This is because the INTERNET happened and the audiences now have access to more information and more art. So yeah, DON'T STOP MAKING FILMS! We need the implosion of a corrupt system that has been trying to control the minds of people for so long.

February 27, 2014 at 10:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jane

As the head honcho of the Toronto International Film Festival, the biggest and best film festival in the world (remember it used to be called the "festival of festivals"), I have always felt this way. There are too many movies being made and amatuer people with video cameras should stop making movies.
Read all about how I really truly feel, no satire: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2010/09/09/howell_too_many_c...

I said this back in 2010 you amateurs.

February 27, 2014 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Piers Handling ...

I just think it's hysterical that they used a pic of AJ Bowen, the current king of pointless crap movies.

February 27, 2014 at 11:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jeremy C

Brings up interesting points and troubling issues for sure. Blogs like these are part of the problem as well IMO. It's all the business of "being" a filmmaker, not making films? The press should be strictly about films, not everything leading up to or after it?

February 27, 2014 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kristian

I feel exactly the same, this site does post some good articles and helps us all keep up to date with new technology (though it's pretty much all camera or camera support updates). The problem is there are far to many camera owners/operators positioning themselves as experts with poor tutorials, a fascination over a single concept (shallow depth of field, the bloody film look and high frame rates etc) and truth be known most of them are just self produced shooters, for example, Phillip Bloom touts himself as a film maker, he recently shot two clips of the moon and a city with a very long lens in 4k, he edited back and forth to a little music with digital punch ins and called it a film?? He has loads of tutorials and reviews but not once has he shown you how to use a light meter, touched on light theory or even narrative concepts for covering a scene (crossing the line, the triangle coverge system for dialogue). Now I know I seem very critical but I have to be, millions visit his site and others like it, slowly positioning the bloggers as experts and walk off into the unknown armed with a vimeo account. Over time I've seen a kind of sub part to the industry emerge with nonsens titles like "filmmaker" and "videographer/videography" turning up on business cards (Cinematographer or camera operator/lighting cameraman is seriously not a good enough explanation?). It's so bad that institutions that just want to capitalise on your thirst for knowledge have develop education plans around these terms and there is now videography diplomas In the UK (Real film schools and post grad degrees still know what they are doing and do not offer degrees in these stupid fields but one day they will)

If we could just tone back the endless and usually flawed tutorials from people that are not educaters and drop the reviews for overviews we might just find people turning to real education or self study and possibly not creating endless money making trends with kit hype.

My rambling two cents.

February 28, 2014 at 6:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Wow Anthony, you seem to be pretty clueless about what Mr. Bloom actually does. He is a filmmaker in the truest sense of the word. He makes mostly Docs so the "triangle system for covering dialogue isn't necessarily his forte. Perhaps you should educate yourself before spouting nonsense on the internet. Also, what have you shot lately?

February 28, 2014 at 9:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Vance

Please do educate me on what Mr Bloom does? I have him down as a documentary film maker with a solid history in news casting, most notable job was on Red Tails as the DSLR operator and I own a few of his short films he was DP on (The Host and That Day). He makes lovely videos outside of this solid body of work, Skywalker Ranch being one of them but he calls them films and has placed himself as an educater to literally millions of followers per year which I don't agree with.

Filmmaker in the truest sense of the word?.... So he's a producer? What is it with camera folk who think they suddenly "make" films because they own a camera? You don't get sound, art, costume, make up or lighting department people calling themselves a "Filmmaker" do you?? your just dumbing down what ever it is your doing while at the same inflating your status to this mystery filmmaker role for those who don't know better.

I was gaffer on two projects this month and I'm having a meeting tonight for a DP role on a low budget web series, past works have been working with BMW for a season of Superbike racing with John Laverty and your typical corporate conferences. Shot three shorts last year.

What's important is "what have I tried to teach lately", nothing. I'm not qualified to just like most of these camera bloggers that Mr Hardy re blogs.

February 28, 2014 at 12:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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please feel free to come back and comment when your as successful as Philip bloom , thanks :)

February 28, 2014 at 7:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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james

And you Vance? Where is your expertise directed? Camera, lighting, sound? You have a page or Vimeo account etc (genuine interest)

February 28, 2014 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sweet!

February 28, 2014 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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patrick

Dang I had been predicting this for ages. People just getting excited about how cheap the next cool gear is... Now we got too many film makers and too many film. Lol we don't foresee or plan for the future. Nofilm school makes it worse by making film making info available to the average joe...

February 28, 2014 at 12:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Bunmi

I had a short film in production and I stopped and haven't picked it up again. Filmmaking is a lot of work, and I started to ask myself "What's the point of making this film?" Yes, it may air at some festivals (after I've spent more time and money submitting it) - but so what? There are tons of short films at the festivals - and there are more festivals springing up all the time. It will be one of thousands, and ultimately, it will get me nowhere. I'm very practical; I have limited time and resources - they are better spent elsewhere.

February 28, 2014 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ed Wright

If you can live happily without making films then you did the right thing. Possibly, though, the same spark that originally motivated you to start the production of your short film will draw you back to it at some point.

February 28, 2014 at 6:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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That is a very stupid statement... You can bet there are far more writers or paintors than filmmakers, do you think they give up writing or painting just because there are thousands of others like them? off course not.. if you have a passion just pursue it instead of worrying about other people's work.

February 28, 2014 at 10:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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It's not a stupid statement. To whom does he owe it to finish his film? Nobody. In my opinion, the only true reason people should be making films is because they CANNOT NOT make them.

February 28, 2014 at 11:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

Most of the supposedly "professional" Hollywood films I come across are mostly talentless, boring or propaganda rubbish.

I have several hundred cable channels of unwatchable programming here. Looking for something remotely watchable is like searching for a needle in haystack.

I would love a channel devoted only to Indies.

February 28, 2014 at 1:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Chris

Of course most Hollywood films are boring and full of commercial propaganda, that's because those films make MONEY. Why else would a stupid movie about Logos make soo much cash....

February 28, 2014 at 6:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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fufg

Legos that is.

February 28, 2014 at 6:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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fufg

Do all Americans put an 's' on the end of Lego?

"You can play with your Legos once you've finished your rices."

February 28, 2014 at 3:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pippy

Agree 100%.

February 28, 2014 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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maghoxfr

I'm sure in the USA it would be considered a problem, however in South Africa where film and film production were always held back by expensive gear, film developing costs and lab costs especially for films made in other languages the digital age certainly revived the local film industry.

February 28, 2014 at 1:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Willie Bouwer

You people are total fools. You should have given up on your dreams and not even bothered to write this nonsense. I suggest that you give up then go away quietly into the night.

February 28, 2014 at 2:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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zapboy

What an absurd idea. It's like telling people to stop mining oil because it is running out. They just won't because more and more is needing it. People needs more movies with insight an quality. To my belief, no few number of film-maker can bring the industry up. The more people there are, the greater the possibilities, this is the biggest chance for all film-maker, not just by lowering production cost, but also in trying to get better collaboration.
More importantly the indie film-maker shall be the audiences, which means more film-maker, more people demanding good film, this will alleviate the whole industry. We need this more than ever.
The same thing has happened, and still happening in the IT industry, it should not be stopped, it must not be stopped.

February 28, 2014 at 4:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tồm

I completely agree. I think this dude is an old geezer and has his granny panties in a wad. Why don't they just make better films? What he's saying is like saying cooks should stop opening small business restaurants cause it's hurting McDonald's. Completely dumb. I, along with a much larger number of 5,000 aspiring filmmakers will keep on keepin' on.

February 28, 2014 at 8:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Will

Are too many people making music and or other forms or art? Yes, always have always will.

"Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life."
Ray Bradbury

February 28, 2014 at 5:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Martin

Seriously? Good movies will always find their way to audiences. If an audience spends 60 minutes watching pure crap its their own fault. Going back one step who releases these movies or showcases them? They should remain doing quality control. Youtube and Vimeo doesnt bother me the least since everybody can decide for them selves when to stop watching or what to click. We're not mindless click-tards, atleast so I like to think of people with cinematic interest.

Basically opening up the indie market the way it has been happening over the last 5 to 10 years through DSLRs and other technology reminds me of what has been going on in the music industry just before all this. Bedroom Producers (plenty from the US and UK) get heard over soundcloud producing amazing music with cheap software. These people have careers now. PERSUING THEIR DREAMS.

The people hurt by all this are the big music labels that keep holding on to an ancient system that simply isnt valid anymore. The result: most of these talents are signed to or start up their indie music labels and seek distribution deals. This is what the industry doesnt like, because its not making the same money off of artist like when you sign a stupid youtube kid and make him into a multi million dollar franchise (yeah bieber)

So. Getting back to filmmaking I think all the same rules apply. Quality Control is something for the companies funding, distributing and last but not least the producers have to ensure. If 10 no-talent directors show up at a producers office, his reaction, according to this article is, oh well so many I guess I have to make atleast 2 or 3 of their movies. This is just plain dumb.

In the long run, people don't have the time and money to make endless movies supporting themselves unless they do manage to make a profit. Which usually happens by finding a target group that actually likes and supports your art. If not, your latest short just gets lost like a tiny grain of sand in the online video hosting desert.

Last but not least, what is up with the sidenote: "Note: if you’re an indie filmmaker with commercial promise, please continue making films. (Don’t sign) "

So, everyone is supposed to be based on how michael bay or JJ abrahams they are?
I can't believe this is the same site posting behind the scenes footage, interviews and diaries of greats like tarkovsky, bergman, bunuel etc.

I say never let go of your dreams! If youre an untalented hack and you just can't get it in your head that you're doing the wrong thing in life so be it. If you are a hobbiest film maker making dreadfull lowbudget scifi with terrible actors. Enjoy yourself.

Actually these people have been around in the 80s and 90s. It just wasnt as easy to get your material out in the world...

So the big question to me is. Why isnt there stronger quality control for festivals and blogs who actually promote indie-pictures?

February 28, 2014 at 6:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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JVDB

I agree that quality is an issue. But how does the average viewer judge quality? They way that they always have: if the movie gets into theaters, its assumed to be quality, since we all know that only quality movies make to theaters. Right? Why else would the spend all that money on advertising if the movie sucked? At least that is the perception which has been drilled into our collective brains for decades. Want to be eligible for an Oscar? Get your movie into an LA county theater for a week before any other distribution. Direct to DVD/VOD is still looked upon as a failure for a movie. So, it is all about the theater. To further the perception, no critic talks about a movie that has not been in theaters for less than 7 days. No theater will play an indie movie on Fri, Sat or Sun at prime time. You could not pay them enough because if the studios saw that theater play anything other than a studio film, that theater would be blacklisted.

So, how to correct it? Put in place an award show for quality indie films. Create a rating system separate from NPAA. Create marketing outlets not tied to standard media outlets - an indie movie discovering app for Smart Tvs would work. The point is we currently have all the distribution outlets we need for the modern viewer. We just need to market the films as quality films and help the audience discover these films using the efforts of everyone. I'll start by offering to collaborate on building the Smart TV app.

February 28, 2014 at 12:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tim

Good article, but it's a tricky one. A lot of indie filmmakers (and I'm one of them) will shoot this article down because obviously "well I'm an indie filmmaker, screw you !"

But it's very true that there's just too much crap out there, I'm not going to pretend to be some great filmmaker (I've yet to prove that), but when I see the "hot" stuff on Vimeo, I'm just baffled. I can count on one hand the truly "memorable" short films for example that I've seen out there, most of it is absolute trash since and this is the biggest problem with the DSLR boom is that ANYONE, fricking anyone can make a movie, and that leads to 95 % of trash, plain bad movies from people who obviously have no understanding of the medium, with poor framing, composition, bad acting, forgettable and bad writing, I might be unfair but it's real.

Obviously, you can't stop them from trying, but it probably stops really good movies from getting recognized. If you wanna be recognized, stand out from the crowd, and god knows that's not easy, I believe that if it's really really special (and not people just kissing ass in Vimeo comments), it will go through and you'll get your break.

February 28, 2014 at 7:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jax Teller

I've been pushing hard to make my first film, preparing for months from script to gathering a team who would work on the project. Now that I've put it up on Kickstarter : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/481898714/hunger-a-horror-short-abo...

Why the hell would I want to give up on the project? It's my dream and passion and the hardwork is part of it, I knew that when I stepped in to this merciless industry. Yeah, maybe we should stop making films because we're passionate about them and just becomes mindless audience queuing for the next franchise sequel.

February 28, 2014 at 7:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I am not sure you got the point... the guy was not being serious. He just wants to adress a problem in the film industry by making a satire. He does not want us to stop making movies just because we are amateurs... What he is saying is that we need to re-think the whole system and find a way to have a sustainable industry again. He does make a point though, if this is your first film, it probably won't be very good, and that is okay. Just do not try to advertise it as it was a masterpiece.

February 28, 2014 at 10:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Piero - well said.

February 28, 2014 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Shane

Well said Usman. Indie is where the creativity is and I'd always support it. Btw, keep doing what you love. Your project sounds good. Good luck!

February 28, 2014 at 7:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Joe

Some people work for 10-tousands of hours and don't even get recognized, but indie filmmakers that have real passion for film will some day get discovered. I think that is the road to a solution. Producers and distrubuters in the industri have to look for the people that have real passion for filmmaking - People that live and breath film every day and is constantly approching to tell stories from a new perspective. The finance is definately there, it's just that todays indie-filmmaking-marked is way to focused on gear. Blogs, forums and websites forget why film cameras were invented - To capture moments. Great filmmakers can tell stories with their Iphone.

February 28, 2014 at 8:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Great topic, thanks for posting. While I do see the risk in market saturation that the authors are pointing out, I think the focus is being grossly misdirected onto bad indie filmmakers. It's hard enough to get indie films to be seen by ANY audience so to suggest they are responsible for the decline of an entire industry is a bit much. Bad films don't turn people off from watching movies. Just as filmmaking has been democratized, so too have reviews of films and distribution channels. We have newer ways of finding out about films, newer ways of watching films and newer ways of avoiding shitty films and finding the good ones.

The democratization of storytelling tools has of course led to an influx of mediocrity and… well… shitty films… but it has also allowed voices and stories that have been repressed by the dominant financing structure to rise to the top. It has paved the way for new incredible stories that simply do not get made when you follow the financing rules in North America.

What we're seeing now is (hopefully) a pickier audience increasingly interested in content over polished look, story over sensationalism. It's no longer good enough to make an okay to create a great looking film with a mediocre script. Because too many people are doing that. You have be doing something, saying something that actually grabs people's attention, that leaves a lasting impression. It requires creativity and fantastic ideas - not just a production crew.

February 28, 2014 at 8:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gabrielle

listen to tge bearded one! :D he knows a few things! :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdmhNPwxGuk

then read this:
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-closing-of-the-scientific-...

we are just giving up being humans more and more, like a cancer we are creating too much information without meaning because we lack it inside. It´s just a normal result from the path we choose to follow as a species, not a film, music, cultural industry stuff problem. :) It´s a much bigger problem that most of the people don´t want to look at! :)

devolution as evolution maybe! :D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=499Ty_JU2bo

February 28, 2014 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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guto novo

I don't think too many films is a problem. The people who are serious about it will continue to make them and get better at it. There's also a burgeoning desire for good, episodic television and I don't think that's going away - it's going to increase. Add to it that India, China, Brazil and other countries are becoming more middle class, there's plenty of room in the world for more films. Would I like to see less films about 20-something angst? Yeah. But like I said, the people who stick with it will become the next generation of indie filmmakers and hit TV series creators. And everyone else will find a job somewhere or start a home pickling business or something else that makes them happy and doesn't take so much time and resources.

February 28, 2014 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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djfern

You know, when I read about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas talk about distribution getting difficult and the end of free movie making, not guided by the dictats of the big studios, I thought, and hoped, that with their billions of dollars of personal fortunes each, and they being, probably the 2 biggest and most infleuntial names in cinema, they would help redefine film distribution, the Single Largest problem why we have formula crap films, and whily good indie films don't make it to cinemas easily, or aren't regularly profitable, no matter what the budget or whether they are good or bad films. Quite frankly, I am disappointed that Spielberg and Lucas, with their clout haven't actually put a process in place, replacing the old and redundant (not to forget painful and slow) traditional methods of film distribution.

February 28, 2014 at 9:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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sanveer

Well, as studio owners, the current system suits them just fine. They are, as mentioned in the HopeforFilm article, have the funds for the blockbuster mentality. In fact, Spielberg has virtually invented the blockbuster with "Jaws" (simultaneous North American box office release and a hit with thrill seeking summer crowds). And, believe it not, anyone with a DSLR is technically his competition because the pie chart can be sliced only into so many pieces. Hope for film, as it were, is from someone first testing, then finding and funding the alternate production and distribution system outside of the major studios and theater chains. My suggestion posted here a while ago was to combine a small studio lot with a chain of 50-100 smaller theaters under one umbrella. The controlled shooting environment is often needed for a higher production value and the brick&mortar theaters are needed for bring the fans. In basic terms, this would be a mini-Hollywood outside of Hollywood. And because the Hollywood system more or less works, there's no reason this mini-Hollywood shouldn't.

February 28, 2014 at 10:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Seems like you might have read this already:
http://trulyfreefilm.hopeforfilm.com/2014/02/2014-the-era-of-abundance.html
but it makes my point pretty clear. I don't think there is any alternative other start to strategize on what a new infrastructure / end-to-end solution would be. Our current system is structured around concepts with no present-day applicability: scarcity, control, the ability to focus attention.

February 28, 2014 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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We also have the "era of abundance" in music and TV (and, as has been said in various articles and posts, art and literature) and have had it for quite some time. The high end film making has pretty much been a solitary holdout from this notion due to its high entry and delivery costs.
.
PS. One question I have long had for the industry insiders like Mr. Hope is why there are so few (almost none?) movie theater chains that are dedicated to smaller/independent films. The existing technology - a higher end consumer front projector, Class-D audio amplification, a hard drive/Blu-Ray based video source - makes the investment into such 40-100 seat theaters fairly affordable while maintaining and even exceeding the audio/video quality of the large screen rooms. The online distribution is unquestionably cheaper but that's often offset by the cost of marketing. Any thoughts? Comments?

February 28, 2014 at 9:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

I disagree with this petition. It is like blaming Line 6 or ProTools for bad music and the current state of the music industry. As somebody already pointed out, the DSLR revolution is benefiting underdeveloped countries or countries that just don't have a strong film industry, like Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, etc.

Have you ever seen Peter Jackson's early films? They were TERRIBLE! What would have happened if he had stopped practicing and given up on his dreams?

The film industry is making the same mistake the music industry did. Blaming everything on technology. Good films will eventually receive the recognition they deserve, shitty films will disappear.

February 28, 2014 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian Delacroix

"We got the tools and we got the talent" - Winston Zeddemore / Ghostbusters

Most indies don't get a theatrical run. If you're lucky enough to get a distribution deal and a theatrical run, even a short one, someone in the industry thinks they can make money from your work. Don't worry, it's cool. Don't be like Dr. Peter Venkman:

"This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"? Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"

Oh, and here's the trailer for my indie comedy coming out in June. http://youtu.be/nQzXP_UzCpg

February 28, 2014 at 10:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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