Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Distribution and productions

I seem to have missed a lot more postings on my favorite blogs in recent months than I even knew. For instance, I even got linked in Getting Real or is it Reel? by Karl Bauer. I seem to have read his post preceding and following that one, but that one... slipped through. I don't know how.

I bring this specific example up, because it discusses some of what I'm currently thinking about in terms of independent production and distribution. He is expressing very familiar frustrations with getting movies made, paid for and making a living. All of the big concerns for an independent moviemaker.

I find myself, as has happened before, with the knowledge that there is are untapped audiences out there.

For me, I look at the audiences that exist for the movies released by Synapse Films, Blue Underground, Panik House, Code Red DVD, Severin Films, Mondo Macabro, etc. Nearly all the movies on these labels are older movies, and I'm sure even a presentation of their combined sales figures wouldn't move a major studio into starting a production, but there they are.

And, yes, I'm sure someone knows that various of them have varying financial troubles. But then they often come down to the expenses involved in clearing complicated rights and properly restoring movies that haven't been well cared for, not to mention difficulties with distribution. These specific issues begin to fade off with new movies, including the distribution, with both video rental and sales stores seeming to increasingly favor new titles.

But, of course, the older movies come with reputations. Not all of them good, of course, but most of them... tantalizing. At least to the right kind of viewer. People are looking for these titles, so much of the work is done by merely making sure those people know that they're being made available and allowing them to spread the word... Anyone involved in that process, please forgive what I'm sure is a oversimplification.

But when a company like The Asylum can get their movies wide and consistent distribution, one must realize that with the right network and marketing, anything could get distributed.

I've said most of this before in one form or another.

Recently I attended a meeting of The Austin Filmmakers Meetup. There was much discussion of what could be done to progress in making the group into something that regularly produced movies. A good thought. When I left there was a general feeling that it could work to have several productions going at varying levels and work as a co-op, so one person's directing this and when there's no specific work for that, acts as a PA for something else, etc. Everyone stays busy.

It's a good idea. I think it will require a strong hand to keep all of those people motivated within the framework of an ad hoc group such as that, and I'm no longer sure that I consider making multiple short movies to be a particularly useful goal. Yes, completing Lakeside remains a top goal, and I think a completed version would go some distance in showing what those of us involved are capable of, but I'm unsure what I accomplish with another, and especially I don't understand what I accomplish by producing a series of them.

But the co-op idea is a good one. I think it needs to be something stronger somehow than just a co-op. It needs to be able to brand itself. There needs to be some kind of quality assurance built into the process.

Somewhere in there is the beginning of something. People of similar tastes coming together to assist one another and create a brand of sorts. Like the smaller version, it would need someone with a skill set much different than my own to keep it organized and moving, but I'm intrigued by the idea of trying to get some kind of ball rolling.

We'll see.

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