Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Self-Reliant Film Store

Monday, November 20th, 2006

I get a fair number of emails asking me to recommend this or that book, or asking what films constitute a “Self-Reliant Film canon” and so on. So I thought that I’d add a modest Amazon store so that I can simply point people towards books I recommend, movies I like (or want to see), and so on.

You can access the store by clicking the link below and, after this post loses prominence, you can always access the store by clicking on the SRF Store in the menu bar at the top of the site, just under the banner.

Purchasing through the store will help offset the costs of server space, etc. so if you do purchase something, thanks a bunch!

Finally, if this feels crassly commercial, please note that the header of the SRF store says “Stuff to Buy or Borrow.” Knowing what you need and don’t need to buy are good principles of self-reliance. If you got some of these things from your local library or a friend I’m sure Thoreau and Emerson would be proud.

Click here to enter the SRF Store.

I’ll be doing holiday stuff over the next week. When I return I’ll be doing some posts related to a new film project of mine. Happy Thanksgiving!

A Swarm of Angels

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Matt over at FresHDV had an interesting post the other day about A Swarm of Angels, which is a self-described attempt to create “cult cinema for the Internet era.”

On one level, this isn’t that different than what I wrote about in my last post: Filmmakers using the internet to raise funds for a project that harnesses the collaborative nature and spirit of the internet. Still, some key differences make me skeptical about its potential for success, at least compared with a project like Lost in Light on Have Money Will Vlog:

First, instead of trying to raise $1500, they’re trying to raise a little over half a million dollars. I have no doubt that it is possible to raise that kind of money over the internet, but this project is essentially asking people to pay about $18 to participate. Maybe that’s reasonable? Personally, I would rather give money to a more personal project like Lost in Light

Secondly, the project is trying to enlist 1000 people to help create it. Again, I think you can find this many people to collaborate on a project. Firefox, Wikipedia… these are great examples of internet, open-source collaboration. But are 1000 heads better than one (or even 20) when it comes to feature filmmaking? Snakes on a Plane, as one previous example, isn’t exactly Exhibit A for the so-called “wisdom of crowds.”

Reservations aside, I’ll be interested to see the project evolve and I wish the best of luck to the participants. All one thousand of you.

Gotham Award Nominees

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

IndieWire has a story on the Gotham Award nominees. Eugene Hernandez clearly seems nonplussed by at least a few of the selections, stating that it’s “a selection of films that may stun some observers” and then reporting that indieWire asked IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd to “reiterate the criteria” for nomination.

While I respect indieWire’s attempt at so-called “objective” journalism, wouldn’t it be so much more interesting for them to just come out and say what they really think instead of having us read between the lines? Hm. Perhaps an editorial is in the works?

Clearly, of the five nominees for Best Feature, a couple, maybe even three, seem out of place. Of course, which two or three depends on your definition of “independent film.”

There will probably not be any disputes over the “indie cred” of the “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” nominees: Steve Barron’s “Choking Man,” Richard Wong’s “Colma: The Musical,” So Yong Kim’s “In Between Days,” Jake Clennell’s “The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief,” and Goran Dukic’s “Wristcutters: A Love Story.” Congrats to the nominees.

UPDATE: IndieWire gets response from the indie (and indiewood) community and finds lots of questions and criticism.

David Lynch self-distributing Inland Empire

Friday, October 13th, 2006

David Lynch has decided to self-distribute his new film, Inland Empire. The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Says THR:

After a flurry of rumors pointing to just about every indie studio in the business, director David Lynch has worked out a deal with French producers Studio Canal to self-distribute his three-hour epic digital video feature “Inland Empire,” in the U.S. and Canada. Producer Mary Sweeney said the plan will “explore a new model of distribution.”

Lynch will work with well-known theatrical and home video partners to launch his epic fever dream of a film, retaining all rights to the low-budget project in each service deal. The partnerships will be announced within the next week.

If you’ve read any of the press about this movie so far, you already know it’s a labor of love for Lynch. He shot it on DV over two and a half years; he says he’s never going back to film. To me, DIY distribution is a logical next step. What makes this noteworthy is DIY is so often associated with younger filmmakers trying to “break in.” Here we have an older, established filmmaker going back to basics.

Of course, some will say that Lynch’s decision to self-distribute is simply a response to the fact he didn’t receive any offers, or good offers, from major distributors. I have no idea if Lynch did or didn’t get offers but, even if that’s true, one shouldn’t take that as an indication of quality: Should we be surprised, especially in today’s climate, that this film scares off distributors? Lynch has never made blockbusters, this film is 3 hours long, and it’s reportedly one of his most impenetrable movies (and that’s saying something).

Self-distribution (or brokered self-distribution, like IFC’s First Take or Truly Indie) is, more and more, the way that the real labors of love reach audiences these days. Is it surprising, then, that Inland Empire is any different? Yes, a little. But that makes me that much more interested.

Until we hear more about how the release will unfold, you can watch Lynch, and IE stars Laura Dern and Justin Theroux, on YouTube doing Q&A at the New York Film Festival. More indieWire coverage here. The reviews from NYFF and Venice have already begun.

And, speaking of getting back to basics, here’s an amusing review from the past.

Amazon Unbox, or: The Price of Immediate Gratification

Friday, September 8th, 2006

You’ve probably heard that Amazon has gone live with it’s movie download service — Amazon Unbox. In the interests of movie-loving consumers everywhere I decided to visit the site for 30 seconds, role-playing as a prospective customer to this new technology, to report my first impressions.

Here’s how it went:

0-5 seconds: The Unbox page loads.

6-10 seconds: Oh, ok, it’s the same old stuff. Hey, there’s a list of what other people are buying. What are the tastes of the early adopters? Lots of TV shows, Office Space, The Family Stone, Walk the Line…

11-15 seconds: Wow these seem overpriced to me: The Matrix via Unbox digital download is $9.88, while the DVD from Amazon is… the same price.

16-20 seconds: Oh hey, look: I can get The Matrix on DVD from one of Amazon’s Marketplace Sellers, for $1.98. That seems reasonable for a mass-produced piece of Hollywood entertainment that’s seven years old. Plus, if I buy this DVD I would have a permanent hard copy that can be played on a DVD player, unlike what the Unbox regulations allow.

And it’s at that point that I stopped looking.


Unbox is clearly aimed at people wanting immediate gratification. I can’t WAIT two-to-five days for The Matrix to arrive in the mail — I need it now! But I think you always pay extra for immediate gratification — sometimes in cash, sometimes otherwise.

I would, however, consider using Unbox for movies that were otherwise not available on DVD. Something tells me that this might take a while to materialize, but Amazon says its in the works.

One final note: The Unbox page for The Matrix says those with DSL might need about 68 minutes to download. (Cable modem speeds are MUCH faster.) If you have DSL, it will take you longer to download this movie than it would to drive to your local video store. Then again, that would require that you interact with human beings. You make the call.

UPDATE: Beyond the issues outlined above, there are apparently some pretty insidious things buried in the agreement Amazon asks (read: demands) of its customers. Read this fancifully titled post from BoingBoing for more.