EDITORIAL- 22/7/2010: INDIES ARE AS INDIES DO
By Andrew L. Urban
One of America’s most daring indie filmmakers, David Lynch, has donated a
unique self portrait (see image) to the production team of a new doco about his
life, limited edition copies of which will be sent to fans in return for a
donation of $50 towards the film’s budget. (Either it’s a very low budget film
or it won’t be a very limited edition ...)
Australian filmmakers – like their indie counterparts the world over - have
always had two giant mountains to cross: raising the money and finding
distribution. The internet has offered an opportunity for the latter, which has
yet to be harnessed by Australian filmmakers – and now one indie production
group is trying to climb both mountains at once.
"avoiding the traditional movie release model"
Australian thriller, The Tunnel, commences filming this month (July 2010),
with producers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey avoiding the traditional movie
release model. They will distribute through internet piracy networks (the
bit-Torrents) in a controversial bid to reach out to the increasingly dominant
online audience. And financed at a frame at a time, online.
Set in and amongst Sydney’s underground tunnels, The Tunnel follows a news film
crews’ journey into Sydney’s underground hunting for a story, until the story
starts hunting them. It is the feature debut of Award-winning director Carlo
Ledesma and starring recent Tropfest Best Actress award-winner Bel Deliá and
Black Water’s Andy Rodoreda.
It’s being called the 135K Project: 1 frame = $1, 135,000 frames = 90 minutes =
1 movie. They say: “The Internet was meant to be a tool to connect us. It was
meant to break down borders and liberate. Now we have an entire generation who
are being labelled criminals for using that tool. But perhaps rather than
wasting millions of dollars fighting a losing battle against internet piracy, we
should try and find a way to embrace the possibilities that this new world
"money raised on the internet"
In other words, this team is making their movie with money raised on the
internet and then releasing it on the internet for what normally would
constitute illegal downloading – but as it is with their consent, it won’t be.
“Buy a frame or two, blog about it, follow us on twitter, seed and embed the
finished film when it’s released. Whatever you can do. It will all help and show
the world there might just be another way. Who knows where that might lead?”
In both these cases, potential consumers are pre-buying ‘tickets’ to the movie.
That notion could be taken further, with presales for the DVDs, for example. The
‘old world’ model of releasing a movie into cinemas has been broken for a long
time as far as indie filmmakers are concerned, and there has been little support
and no appetite for finding alternatives.
These two examples (and there are others, like the filmmakers who offered
producer credits to anyone who worked for nothing, with a back-end profit deal)
should help encourage the inventive minds of our creative film community to
explore new paths to funding and distribution.
"Some thoughts at random"
Some thoughts at random: sell exclusive DVD rights to a supermarket chain and
launch your film on DVD; reverse sell the book rights to the screenplay;
build-in a significant product placement element: look what Tom Hanks (producer
and star) did with Fed Ex in Cast Away (2000): the whole story was a giant Fed
Ex ad - but it was a great story. Commercially popular films don’t have to be
crap. Not all of them are.
Australian filmmakers can and should reinvent the indie moviemaking system,
instead of trying to copy the studio system.
Published July 22, 2010
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David Lynch self portrait. Would you buy into a movie about this man?
Innovative financing & distribution workshops by John Reiss in Sydney & Melbourne.