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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

I was excited about the possibilities of VOD for indie films until I read this

In a piece at The New York Times about the likelihood that many of the films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — which starts on Thursday — will skip theatrical distribution and be released on demand, I found this, buried way at the bottom:

[M]ost filmmakers have a more pessimistic view of digital distribution, saying that the money from those deals does not routinely reach them.

That comes 892 words into an 1120-word piece. That is what we call burying the lede.

So, for 892 words, when we thought we were reading about how indie filmmakers are maybe going to survive in an era when no one seems to want to pay for stuff, we were actually reading about how middlemen are going to make money off filmmakers by not paying them for their stuff.

Now I’m depressed again.

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  • LaSargenta

    Oh. Shit.

    Now what?

  • Steve Gagen

    It’s depressing isn’t it – but was ever thus. There are business-types who are good at getting (and keeping) the money, and there are creative types who get duped. Just as most artists have always starved, while the art-dealers have alsways grown sleek and fat!

  • Karl Morton IV

    How is this news? Are you unaware of the entire history of Hollywood?

  • Danielm80

    The article is by Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply. I’m surprised they didn’t miss the lede altogether.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I don’t know what article you read, but the one I clicked through to wasn’t about indies “skipping” theatrical for VOD. The one I read was about how almost none of the movies are being offered theatrical releases. That how VOD is the only for the majority of these films to ever see the light of day.

    Also worth mentioning is the very next sentence:

    There is also a shortage of publicly available statistics to support a booming on-demand market.

    I read that (and, frankly, the rest of the article) as saying that, right now, no one is making money on independent film.

  • Nope. The money that viewers pay to watch movies on demand is going to *someone.* Licensing fees that Amazon and Netflix, etc, are paying to stream films are going to *someone.*

  • Are you? Independent films did not really exist until the 1960s or 70s. Filmmakers like Roger Corman created their own distribution companies, and the money they earned went to them. When distribs bought films at Sundance in the 90s, the acquisition fees went to the filmmakers.

    What are you referring to?

  • RogerBW

    Bad filmmaking drives out good?

    I.e. the really big mass market, where you have to gain mindshare if you’re going to make money off small individual payments, doesn’t care how good or bad your film is as long as it pushes the right buttons. So the one that costs less to watch will probably win.

    OK, back to patronage.

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