By Lance Weiler, December 22nd, 2008

Lisa Salem reports -
ENDING THIS YEAR WITH A REMINDER OR A PRIMER – WHICHEVER THIS MAY BE FOR YOU…

“The number one threat to a filmmaker nowadays is not piracy, it’s obscurity.” (Matt Hanson at Power To The Pixel 2007, re-quoting from Tim O’Reilly).

I want to end the year by going a little retro, so in a kind of year-end look-back-as-a-means-to-moving-forward, I’m posting these three videos from Power To The Pixel ‘07.

I went to three festivals this past fall: Power To The Pixel ‘08, Sheffield Doc Fest and CPH Dox. At all but Power To The Pixel, filmmakers were frequently asking me why the issues of self-distribution and audience-building were so important, and how to jump in and get an overview of who’s doing what, what’s going on… and why.

I think these videos are a really great introduction.

These presentations made a huge impact on me at the time. Although I’d been following the self-distribution conversation for a while, it wasn’t until I heard the Head Trauma and FEM case studies that everything really seemed to gel for me. It was then that I knew where I wanted to go, could see the way forward and had a notion of what needed to be done. Not only that, I was exhilarated at the prospect. I felt as much creative potential in the possibility of gathering an audience around my film as I did in the filmmaking process itself – and as well, the level of need for doing it also finally became clear.

TWO OF THE HIGHEST RISKS OF OBSCURITY FOR A FILM ARE:

a) Not understanding how big the risk of obscurity is and

b) Not understanding that, ultimately, only the filmmaker can save their film from obscurity.

(- Either, at least, by understanding the dynamics of the situation (understanding the risk!) and figuring out how to facilitate/oversee a scenario where others can help match your film to it’s potential audience for you, or by doing it yourself.)

These videos are good because they highlight this very clearly and speak specifically to the real threat obscurity poses. Better though, they offer inspiring examples as to how these obstacles were overcome, what kind of initiative and attitude it took, and how much fun can be had in the process.

LANCE’S HEAD TRAUMA CASE STUDY

Over and above anything specific Lance says, it’s his headspace and playfulness with every level of the process that are the most informative.

ARIN AND SUSAN’S FOUR EYED MONSTERS CASE STUDY

Arin makes the point that in today’s climate, learning how to build and connect with an audience should really be thought of as no different from learning how to shoot and use a camera.

SELF-DISTRIBUTION PANEL

This panel is great because it’s really valuable to hear the filmmakers dialogue about their process and the issues they’re mulling over. I especially like it when Jeremy Nathan says:

“I think the only solution is self-distribution – through models that we’ve just heard this afternoon – because those are the models that I think are delivering dollars into people’s pockets – even if it’s small money, it’s still money coming back. Because otherwise it’s a fiction – films don’t get seen and you don’t get paid, so why bother? It’s too painful a process.

- and when Matt Hanson speculates about ducking out of the money-and-audience-at-the-end syndrome into a new system altogether.

GOING BACK TO BASICS

So whilst these videos are more general and don’t explicitly relate to audience, it’s good to look at the big picture. The thing to take away is that the audience is there for us to connect with, and that it’s neither up to others to give us permission to do that, nor is it solely upon others that we can relinquish the task.

For more visit Pollinate

LISA SALEM set out to walk the whole of LA pushing a baby-stroller with a video-camera attached to the end of it, facing inwards. When people approached her, she invited them to walk with her while she videoed their conversations. She posted those videos to a blog and in the process attracted a large and intrigued audience to what she was doing. Since then, Lisa’s been looking at the process of audience-building in detail. She lives in London now and when not working on her film-portrait of Los Angeles “WALK LA WITH ME”, she runs workshops that help filmmakers be more independent.

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Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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