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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Age Of DIY Consent: Desperate Times Call For Cavalier Risks


Microbudget filmmaking--or as it's known these days as "zero-budget"/"guerilla" filmmaking--is at a crossroads. As the DIY filmmaker, we're sometimes asking ourselves: Is this worth it? I'll admit that in a macro-centric-industry, one that is in a constant flux, it can be disheartening to still be a "micro" player. Big changes are happening. For content producers, Netflix is looking like less of a venue for streaming content, as they will probably lose their core audience soon. For the social media pioneers, an online earthquake will push followers to start trending Google+ sooner than later. With such industry-redefining events happening, how do we micro/DIY folks look to nab the eyes and ears of the masses?

I hate to sound like a broken record but I still think it'll come in innovation and a knack to be REALLY cavalier in how we tell, brand and deliver our stories. The dust hasn't settled yet. DIY is still very much alive and--more importantly--is a vital mindset for our independent industry. DIY has evolved from its original rebellious connotation; it is now the embodiment of new media enlightenment. Consider this video ad for Nokia. It was shot on a cell phone.


The production behind "Splitscreen: A Love Story" may have been well funded and of course is in a position for broader reach with the branding of Nokia behind it but it still employs the cavalier sensibilities of risk, experimentation and bravado.

The bottom line is this: It's good to be a struggling DIY filmmaker right now. Because we are pushed up against a wall of doubt, expectation and limited resources, we are the most dangerous players in the arena. We WILL get our content across to our focused audiences--if not the masses! We don't need to follow a yellow brick road to Hollywood fandom. We're going to off-road it to cinematic validity!

I like to look back at some fundamentals I wrote about for Cinefile near the end of last year in a piece titled "The Urgent Need For New Indie Filmmaking Myths":

"The fact of the matter is that the popular notion of "indie cinema" has been lost in translation. The myths of the hunger artist pushing to get their voice and work heard have been mishapen to represent a filmmaker merely crawling through film festivals for the sake of mirroring that unreachable Tinseltown lifestyle. Independent cinema for me was never about that. Let Hollywood be Hollywood. That business model works for them. For me, independent cinema is still coming to fruition. It's thinking outside of the box [...] Basically, individuals of influence in the indie realm need to start creating new myths for the coming waves of talent. The sad truth is that some film schools and institutions are still preaching and training future James Camerons; in other words, they're creating falsified notions for young filmmakers. To think that going to film school, reading a "How-To" book and submitting to a high profile festival is the one and only ticket to success is beyond ludicrous [...] We need to introduce the myths of alternate exhibition systems (e.g. digital downloads) as being the premiere--not secondary--avenues for indie artists. We need to introduce the myth of becoming the self-marketer as being a vital asset to directing/producing your film; thus throwing away the notion that solely making the film will suffice."


Our DIY movement was sprung from a need for change. Everything I have been writing, linking, referencing and highlighting in this FREE CINEMA NOW website has (hopefully) highlighted that fact. What I want to see from my peers are their continued efforts in producing engaging content. Don't be discouraged if you're not getting a thousands hits on YouTube right this moment. Keep creating. By creating, you're cementing your online brand/identity. Keep building your audience through social media pages like Facebook, Cinefile and the newly introduced Google+.

Stay strong. Stay alive.

Stay needed.

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Note: A good guide for new media filmmakers can be found at "New Media Rights Advice To Filmmakers"

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