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Reflecting on From Here To Awesome

To my mind, the biggest problem (as a filmmaker and cinephlie) is that the system is set up in such a way that audiences don’t have TRUE choices for content. The system favors the safe and familiar and “what’s worked before”. I wonder how many cutting edge, iconoclastic filmmakers have been passed over in recent decades because some suit couldn’t reduce their work to “it’s like RoboCop meets Pretty Woman”? I’d like to see this flipped on its head so that audiences have a portal through which they can access a vast array of content on demand and pull it toward them, rather than having distributors push selected content at them. This portal would navigate though a variety of methods including searches, intelligent recommendations, keyword tagging and metadata, and good old word of mouth through a social network that would also allow fans to interact and communicate with filmmakers thru live and recorded video as well as text-based discussion. For the suits reading this, “its like DirecTV meets Amazon VOD meets iTunes Store meets Facebook meets Google meets Video iChat meets Coppola’s Little Fat Girl all packaged into a 60″ HD television with webcam, harddrive, and broadband built-in”.

If today we are “Here” and our goal is to get to “Awesome”, i think we are right on the brink of the next “ipod moment” — a moment that changes the way content finds its audience. today’s independent filmmaker is moving closer to what we at Sabi Pictures call the interdependent filmmaker — one who embraces the value of community-based solutions for everything from education and production needs to sharing your audience with like-minded artists. my vision of “awesome” is a universal framework that supports the artist and his or her audience cyclicly. allowing the filmmaker to retain ownership of his or her work is paramount to the evolving models of distribution and I believe that Arin Crumley’s idea for a universal distribution agreement is a brilliant concept for defining a new relationship between filmmakers and outlets. the technology is such that the only thing holding back the low budget (yet equally skilled, compelling and entertaining) filmmaker from monetizing their efforts is an audience equipped with the tools to find them.

Being a part of the first wave of the FHTA project has been a massive awakening and education in terms of elevating my understanding of what can be done with a motion picture once it’s locked and ready for the world. It has emboldened me to truly take ownership of my films, to give myself permission to fail, to assert and define my place in the film world, to brave the ever-evolving models of self-distribution and to have courage in rejecting the conventional route toward distribution for independents such as myself.

the distribution opportunities provided by FHTA were not an end result in and of themselves. they were a door that opened to a whole new journey. I learned to pursue these opportunities with vigilance, to build upon them and to let them inspire new ideas for building an audience. if you’re not pushing your filmmaking forward in some manner every single day, then you’d better go out and hire a great publicist (and a team of interns) to do it for you. that, or turn in your indie credentials right now. haha!

I received a vast “DIY” education from Lance Weiler and Arin Crumley. I now understand how to build and sustain an audience and the importance of creating a framework for the filmmaker to interact and make himself or herself available to the people drawn to the work. I now know the value of transparency and the importance of giving myself permission to fail as I experiment with the newly emerging distribution models. I now know that I’m not alone in wanting to change the status quo by retaining ownership of my work and I know it will happen for us soon. It is only a matter of time, planning and effort.

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