Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Independent Filmmakers Join the Club

According to the Los Angeles Times Business Section today, Independent Filmmakers do not "get it" any more than big studios. Richard Verrier interviewed two film creators who believe that people watching their films is bad... OK, that's not exactly what they said, but the irony is clear.

Gary Carter, the creator of Gangland Love Story, believes that he lost $100,000 from people watching copies of his small film online. Unfortunately, he makes no mention of how many viewers he thinks would have chosen to purchase the video, selling for $18 on Amazon.com.

But the true ridiculousness comes later in the article. As support for the proposition that internet viewing is harming independent films, the article cites The Hurt Locker, which won six Oscar awards despite making only $16.4 million in box office. The article states that more persons saw the film without paying than actually paid for it, yet nobody mentions that this volume of viewers might have been necessary to generate the level of attention necessary to be considered for an Oscar. It is assumed by everyone involved with the article that without internet views the movie would have made more money, but the more realistic reality is that without internet views, the movie would probably never have risen to the cultural radar at all.

While LA Times states that independent filmmakers are unable to deal with "internet piracy", it leaves out the fact that independent filmmakers are also least able to independently generate buzz about a film. For artists who make their work with the hope of people watching it, the position is odd. Let's hope that independent filmmakers catch on quickly that the Internet is the friend of the small film, not the enemy that this article seems bent on painting.

Yes, the market as it exists changes the way that people make money on content, but by embracing this reality, the great ideas of independent filmmakers stand a better chance than ever of being judged on the merits, maybe even judged by the Oscar voters.