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Old 12-12-2003, 12:31 AM   #1
staticnothing
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Distribution... giving and receiving...

Hello all;

I guess here's the question that the more seasoned filmmakers here could probably answer. Every time, it seems, I hear about a new movie that's out at festivals that looks interesting I ask myself "how can I see this movie?" I look for local listings and, even in Seattle, they can't manage to play all the good indie movies constantly, they've got to make room for the new ones. So then I wonder if I could get a copy of this movie on DVD or VHS or download it or *something*. Well, I go to Amazon.com and only the biggest named indie movies have DVD releases that are just like any hollywood DVD. But then the smaller ones (ie: something that I just heard played at Cannes or Sundance or whatever) never seem to make it to DVD. Even when I check the website for the filmmaker there's no way to order some little copy of their movie. This is really interesting for me. The amount of investment to make your own DVDs seems small compared to the investment to make the movie itself. Even I could take my movie and throw it onto a DVD and make it look semi-proffessional (at least the packaging). So why aren't more people doing this? Is it because they feel that only the big DVD making companies should be pressing these DVDs? Are home made DVDs (from computers) generally not very compatible with home DVD player systems? These filmmakers complain about not being able to make up the cost of their movies, but how do they expect to when they don't put any effort into promoting or selling their movie? I don't really understand, am I missing something?

My second question, sort of relating to what I was getting to up there: why aren't there more theaters that have indie movies? It seems like having a small theater that has a DV projector and a cheap projector would cost next to nothing to set up and would be swamped with indie filmmakers trying to get their movies played. Does it really cost that much to set that up? Is the market just too saturated with all of the Hollywood movies? I don't know. Independent theaters shouldn't be at all the realm of big cities. What do you say? Who wants to open up a chain of independent theaters... one in every small town?? Haha. I don't know if that's the best idea, but I wonder why it hasn't been done (or has it already been tried?).

Just curious;
Doug

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Old 12-12-2003, 01:02 AM   #2
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Re: Distribution... giving and receiving...

Quote:
Originally Posted by staticnothing
Every time, it seems, I hear about a new movie that's out at festivals that looks interesting I ask myself "how can I see this movie?" I look for local listings and, even in Seattle, they can't manage to play all the good indie movies constantly, they've got to make room for the new ones. So then I wonder if I could get a copy of this movie on DVD or VHS or download it or *something*. Well, I go to Amazon.com and only the biggest named indie movies have DVD releases that are just like any hollywood DVD. But then the smaller ones (ie: something that I just heard played at Cannes or Sundance or whatever) never seem to make it to DVD. Even when I check the website for the filmmaker there's no way to order some little copy of their movie. This is really interesting for me. The amount of investment to make your own DVDs seems small compared to the investment to make the movie itself. Even I could take my movie and throw it onto a DVD and make it look semi-proffessional (at least the packaging). So why aren't more people doing this? Is it because they feel that only the big DVD making companies should be pressing these DVDs? Are home made DVDs (from computers) generally not very compatible with home DVD player systems? These filmmakers complain about not being able to make up the cost of their movies, but how do they expect to when they don't put any effort into promoting or selling their movie? I don't really understand, am I missing something?
I also wonder why some films never see a DVD release. As many bad movies that are released by bad DVD distributors as there are, you'd think that a film that gets critical and viewer praise would be a shoe in to find a distributor.

Bubba Hotep, for example, was a favorite at every film fest it was screened at, yet it only got picked up by Vitagraph Films, a small branch of American Cinematheque that has never really done much other than rerelease obscure movies from the '60s and '70s. It looks good right now, because early box office success has given the comapny some money to expand to more theaters, yet it is still highly possible that Bubba Hotep may never see a DVD release.

At the same time, I'm walking through Blockbuster the other day, and I see some movie called Monsturd. Nothing against the makers of Monsturd, but I don't see thier site boasting the same critical and fan praise as Bubba Hotep's.

It seems silly that highly praised movies get shafted by distributors. I've heard a lot of distributors passed on Bubba Hotep because they thought the concept was better than the movie itself. Well, I'd probably have to agree with them, but who cares? This thing is playing to sold out crowds all over the US, that's money they passed up on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by staticnothing
why aren't there more theaters that have indie movies? It seems like having a small theater that has a DV projector and a cheap projector would cost next to nothing to set up and would be swamped with indie filmmakers trying to get their movies played. Does it really cost that much to set that up? Is the market just too saturated with all of the Hollywood movies? I don't know. Independent theaters shouldn't be at all the realm of big cities. What do you say? Who wants to open up a chain of independent theaters... one in every small town?? Haha. I don't know if that's the best idea, but I wonder why it hasn't been done (or has it already been tried?).
This is a little easier to answer. I used to run a theater, and I can tell you, throwing up a couple of projectors ain't the only thing you have to do to set up a theater. You've got to a) think about concession, b) make deals with distributors, c) think about all your basic costs (water, electricity, building rental, etc.), and d) think about the advertising. Owning and running a theater, I honestly don't know why anyone tries it. It is virtually built to make you lose money. The measly 100 bucks or so you get from some poor schmuck who wants to screen his film won't pay for your overhead, and if you don't get a deal with distributors, then you won't get people to come see movies (cause no one will be running out to see a student film that is supposed to be "okay").

Basically the reason why you don't see more indie thaters is because it takes a hell of a lot of money to run one, and they don't make a hell of a lot of money. Its' that simple.

Poke
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Old 12-12-2003, 03:05 AM   #3
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Those are some interesting things to think about as far as independent theaters. It gets me to thinking: there are always other alternatives to everything. I've been keeping an eye on iTunes and I have to keep my fingers crossed that people decide to buy in. I'm not sure if there is something like this for movies yet, but if iTunes is successful and if internet connections keep getting faster (on the average) than I can see over the horizon something more geared towards on demand viewing. I don't know the best way to make it work. What do you think, after there is a reasonable integration for most people between their computers and their televisions the ability to buy the digital movie viewing rights for like $1 or something. It's not much money, but if less than one percent of the country watches the movie you're still a millionaire, right? But, seriously, that might be years off. I guess there's no way to say. It would be nice to say "hmm, I'd like to watch this movie right now" and then have it almost instantly be playing on your tv.

I'm sure the one thing that would kill the industry before it gets off the ground is watching a good movie and then having a "BUFFERING...." screen come up and stop the whole show while you wait... hah...

Cheers.

Doug
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Old 12-12-2003, 10:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokewowplayer1
At the same time, I'm walking through Blockbuster the other day, and I see some movie called Monsturd. Nothing against the makers of Monsturd, but I don't see thier site boasting the same critical and fan praise as Bubba Hotep's.
After reading some stuff about Monsturd on the web, I should retract this statement somewhat. Monsturd is actually a nice little indi success story. It was shot on a GL1 for about $3,000 dollars, and it is now in every major video chain across the country.

It, like Bubba Hotep, was a fan fave at every fest it played at, so it deserves distribution as much as BH-T.

Quote:
Originally Posted by staticnothing
Those are some interesting things to think about as far as independent theaters. It gets me to thinking: there are always other alternatives to everything. I've been keeping an eye on iTunes and I have to keep my fingers crossed that people decide to buy in. I'm not sure if there is something like this for movies yet, but if iTunes is successful and if internet connections keep getting faster (on the average) than I can see over the horizon something more geared towards on demand viewing. I don't know the best way to make it work. What do you think, after there is a reasonable integration for most people between their computers and their televisions the ability to buy the digital movie viewing rights for like $1 or something. It's not much money, but if less than one percent of the country watches the movie you're still a millionaire, right? But, seriously, that might be years off. I guess there's no way to say. It would be nice to say "hmm, I'd like to watch this movie right now" and then have it almost instantly be playing on your tv.
This is kinda where we are heading. I'm not gonna be a pessimist and think that this revolution is going to destroy the theater experience (people thought VCRs would do that). But I feel this "digital" revolution is going to have a huge effect on the industry. The key is if the studios can step up and realize the oportunities that all this new technology holds. If they drop the ball and keep doing things the way they've always done, I can forsee the film market becoming so diluted that filmmaking will become a hobby forn everyone rather than a career a select few.

Poke
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Old 12-12-2003, 10:30 AM   #5
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Why wont they bring Fear & Loathing on DVD?
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Old 12-12-2003, 01:27 PM   #6
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I think Madstone is the only chain that is trying to get a large dv distribution base. They create their own movies and also have a growing chain of theatres. I look forward to the day that the super hi fi video projectors that Sony has is picked up. I saw a demonstration of these a few years ago, and they look fantastic. There was hardly any distinction between film and the projected video. You could see it when the image was paused, but it wasnít the fault of the projector, it was the fault of the compression methods of the video. The plan at that time was to install them in AMC theatres to coincide with Episode 2, but it didnít work out. I want to see the super bowl on a 60í screen. Now that would revitalize a theatre.
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