If you've not read them already, David Lowery's ruminations on self-distribution are well-considered and well worth reading. His two posts on the subject have been linked to and blogged about by some others, so I won't be covering it in detail here. What makes his considerations worthwhile, I think, is that it's not breathless fist-pumping "WE'RE TAKING BACK THE CINEMAS NOW" kind of rhetoric. It's essayistic stuff -- he's unravelling a thread, trying to find where it leads. One notion that Lowery keeps returning to throughout the posts is music, namely indie rock distribution. (We seem to have a common fondness for Aimee Mann.) Lowery notes, and I agree, that for all of the parallels between DIY music and film, it isn't a perfect analogy. Generally, it takes a lot more technology, people, and work to bang out a good short film than it does to bang out a great single, and the difference between an LP and a feature-film is even greater.
I've got some more thoughts on this, but not enough time to dig into it. More later.