Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Self-Distro Action & Talk: Ekanayake, Baker, Lowery Playing in DC in Spring, Lowery's Self-Distro Essay - The Sequel

I am producing two upcoming indie/D.I.Y film screening events for other filmmakers and several events for my own movie, all events happening in or near Washington "City of Love" DC:

Date Number One in DC in March & April

In March & or early April there will be 1 or 2 benefit screenings that use my new movie Date Number One. The events will happen in the DC area and once all the elements have been finalized, I will announce who the events will benefit (both very worthy causes). All the info. (venues, dates, etc.) coming in mid-late February, stay tuned. Date Number One reviews should be hitting the web in late Feb.

Related: Regular screenings of Date Number One will start in DC at some point in April. Info. coming in Feb.

Kelley Baker playing in DC in April

In mid-late April (exact date tbd, will know in a couple of days) the Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker will be here to play his movies at Capital City Microcinema (& possibly other local venues).

David Lowery playing in DC in Spring

In late Spring (will announce exact date this month) David Lowery, famous indie film blogger & sexy Texas outlaw filmmaker, will be here for another Capital City Microcinema event (and yes, there is also a chance that Lowery will play other local venues too).

Indie film self-distro talk in action babies, check it out. Makin' it happen in zero zero sixxx.

David Lowery's Self-Distro Essay Part Two

And on the talk front, David Lowery posted part 2 of his thoughts on indie self-distribution.

Like I predicted back in December '05 (I am pretty sure I did), 2006 is gonna be The Year of Indie Self-Distro in the US of A!

How To Make Friends In Indie Film

Just got through talking (via e-mail, phone) w/ a couple of indie filmmakers that I've gotten to know recently through the web, people who live very far from DC. I am helping them set up screenings in DC and I plan on hanging out w/ them when I play my new movie in their cities (if they are around & not busy). So basically my network of indie filmmakers is growing, specially since I started this blog. I wrote down some things indie filmmakers can do to grow their filmmaker network, see them here at the Date Number One Movie Blog. Definitely check it out if you are an indie filmmaker, maybe it'll help you turn your self-distribution & touring dreams into reality.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Motlagh's "My Break Ups" to Premiere at San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

Amir Motlagh's excellent short documentary "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces" will have its US festival premiere at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, which runs from March 16th- 26th, 2006. The film screens in a program called Mystery Arcade Shorts Program with two screening dates: March 19th at the Kabuki 3 at 5:45 PM and March 23 at Kabuki 4 at 7:30 PM. Complete fest program goes up on the web on Feb 14th (a nice Valentine's Day gift isn't it?). Catch this doc all you Frisco kids. It's about a painter, as remembered by his daughter. And it's also about moving to America.

Amir tells his stories through the use of poetic images, narrations, home movie footage, and with the help of music that he composed & created. His previous short "Still Lover", a romantic-drama tale told using still photos, was popular on AtomFilm. He is currently at work on a feature called "Whale".

An '04 NPR Story on "Afro-Punk", A Documentary by James Spooner

Have not heard this NPR story before. It's pretty cool. Includes Spooner talking about his motivations for making "Afro-Punk". Check it out here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Houses Burning, Bands Playing, Trixie DVD

Trixie DVD is a label started by Fugazi's Brendan Canty. The label makes movies - live performance videos - featuring indie bands from various places. The other interesting element of each of these videos (called Burn To Shine 01, 02, etc.) is that the house that the bands perform in is set for demolition. At the end of the video they show the house being torn down. A comment on mortality, the transient nature of things, just a cool art concept? I don't know, perhaps all of the above. I saw their first DVD - featuring bands from DC area, and it was excellent. Go here to learn more.

On an indie/DIY filmmaker interest note, Trixie can be a model for us. Just make the movie, make it available through the web site, get it to retailers who would have it. Then you can of course set up some theatrical screenings (at actual movie theaters or any other venues) to promote the movie & the DVD. Completely avoiding Hollywood & Indiewood gatekeepers & also no doubt making some much needed cash for the current/future projects/the prod & distro work, getting the project out with the power of a web site, DVDs & some screenings. Of course you would have to do press - blogging, submitting the DVD for reviews, etc. But you've got to do press & publicity work no matter how a film is released. Look into it baby, look into it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

3 Indie Filmmakers On Self-Distribution

In the order that their fully formed & detailed (at least around 1 page long) manifestos, musings, thoughts & strategies re: self-distribution appeared on the web w/ in the last 6 months:

Sujewa Ekanayake (yup, that would be me),
related: interview that states reasons & clarifies plans re: current distro project
related: The DIY 2005 Film Movement
current distro project: Date Number One, 2006 film

David Lowery
current project (production): The Outlaw Son

Caveh Zahedi (thanks GreenCine Daily for the link!),
current distro project: I Am A Sex Addict, 2005 film

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The New & Ultimate "Date Number One" Blog Is Now Alive

Here's the new blog for my new movie. Prior to this we had the production blog, and then I started the road blog (On The Road With Date Number One) - which would have covered just the distro stuff. But this new blog will cover everything about the movie - distribution news as it happens and notes regarding the production of the flick, and whatever else that comes up. There's a nice new pic from the movie there now.

Now I am off to try to meet the 2/1 Seattle International Film Festival deadline (even if I don't get in, having a big deadline is a big motivator). More about that at the new blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Withoutabox gets into the self-distro game, More on Sex Addict distro

And all this from IndieWIRE. I must say that so far in '06 IndieWIRE has been doing a kick-ass job on covering subjects relevant to Filmmaking for the Poor or covering DIY filmmaking & distro related items. I've been linking to their docs a lot lately. Go IW!

And the latest news items are:

Withoutabox is getting into the self-distribution game w/ a pilot program that includes distro of "Four Eyed Monsters" (here's some good news, I think, for all you F.E.M fans out there, maybe now perhaps the filmmakers can get out of debt some & move back out of the parent's house). Read all about it at this IndieWIRE article.

Caveh Zahedi's new flick I Am A Sex Addict will be a part of IFC's new Day And Date release initiative. Read all about that at this IndieWIRE article.

Later on DIY Players!

Didn't care about "Annapolis" 'till I learned Roger Fan is a star

Yup, the actor from Justin Lin's "Better Luck Tomorrow" is a lead in the upcoming Hollywood sailors-boxing flick "Annapolis." Justin Lin is also the director and he is the reason that Fan is a star in this movie. Read all about it here at this SDAFF article. And to give praise when praise is due, good job Hollywood in giving the director gig to an Asian-American filmmaker & making one of the stars Asian-American. I am gonna check this movie out to see if it is good.

I wasn't a fan of "Better Luck Tomorrow" but the fact that the cast was Asian in an otherwise ordinary suburban-kids-gone-bad movie was interesting.

OK, must get back to blogging about DIY movies & related events. Will let ya know what I thought about "Annapolis" after I see it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The New World is excellent

Did it really happen that way? Did the Native Americans really move that way? What exactly was the kind of relationship that Princess Pocahontas had with Captain John Smith? Was the Native American tribe's way of living so "pure" in real life, as Smith observed in the movie? I do not know. But, if you think you will like a deeply involving, meditative, beautifully shot, well acted, well scored movie that gently rolls by, and is somewhat of a hallucinatory experience, then go see Terrence Malik's The New World. This movie is the first candidate for my top ten list for this year. I am going to have to see it again. It's not indie/DIY, but it is most excellent. Swelling orchestral music, epic shots of nature, a beautiful girl/woman, a confused man and a noble man, it's all there. Some thought's I had during the movie:
* man, America didn't always exist as I know it, looks like a lot of work was done to bring it to the current level
* was it possible for those two civilizations to meet & work well together, instead of how it went down?
* that's the best cinematic representation of the reason for Thanksgiving I've ever seen
* I guess people worked a lot back then, hung out - took long walks with each other, what would it be like to not have movies, DVDs, music, the internet, blogs, e-mail, cell phones, etc? it may be cool for a while
* what is this world?
* those people in history books were actual, fragile people with emotions, creatures who could bleed & break, they did not know the future the way I know the past, the way I know their stories
* dude, this movie is making me high
* that actress is beautiful
* how come I do not see a lot of Native Americans in DC?
* what if I used Malik's filmmaking style to tell a very contemporary story - a romantic-drama thing? is anyone doing that at the moment? maybe Amir Motlagh's new film will resemble this idea a little. Amir's got some atmospheric, beautiful stuff going on in his movies.

OK, that's enough for now. Go see The New World.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

IFC Films picks up Zahedi's "I Am A Sex Addict"!

Saw some awesome news in IndieWIRE today: IFC Films has picked up Caveh Zahedi's new film I Am A Sex Addict for distribution. I spoke well about Sex Addict a couple of months ago, and many others have also found it to be an excellent movie. Sex Addict was the #1 film in my Fave Movies of 2005 list. Zahedi was self-distributing the film up to this point, due to lack of distributor interest. So it is very cool to see a deserving indie get picked up (even if it is after many people have sung its praise, many festival awards, and after the filmmaker launched a self-distribution effort).

Here's a part of the article from IndieWIRE:

"IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring announced a pair of pacts as Sundance begins. Caveh Zahedi's "I Am A Sex Addict" is described as a look at "the life of an insecure young man who becomes addicted to prostitutes, and finds himself unable to stop even though it destroys all of his relationships. He decides to make a movie about his predicament..." The movie debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and won a special Gotham Award for an undistributed movie."

Rock on Caveh! It is about time that hard working & innovative indie filmmaker got some solid film industry attention & support. Looking forward to seeing the flick again when it opens in DC.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Let us now discover a filmmaker condemned to death for tarnishing Egypt's reputation

Getting condemned to death in a developing country for making a movie (I single out the developing world for this honor because in the developed world we do not condemn artists to death, we just boycott theaters & stuff, which usually leads to a bigger box office) is a sure way to get some attention from this blog. To be fair, the condemnation received by filmmaker Jocelyne Saab does not seem to be coming from the Egyptian government, here is the relevant text from the IndieWIRE article:
" Today, a new wave of violence and controversy is surrounding the film, [in which] polarized Egyptian public opinion [is resulting in] a love or hate stance and propelling debates concerning freedom of speech and FGM into the public sphere. This whole frenzy culminated with an article recently condemning me to death for tarnishing Egypt's reputation. "

FGM is female genital mutilation.

The movie in question is a fiction feature, a drama called "Kiss Me Not on the Eyes", in competition in Sundance. The film seems to be about youth sexuality in Egypt.

By the way, the article, an interview on IndieWIRE, caught my eye this morning because it is titled: "I was sipping my coffee and staring at the Nile. I was asking myself, 'why is everything so hard?" That gets my film biz headline of the day award. Sipping coffee and staring at the Nile is always a very interesting situation for someone like me who lives very far from the Nile and likes coffee.

Anyway, enough hype, check out the excellent interview at IndieWIRE. Looking forward to checking out this movie.

And here's another article that sheds more light on the plot of the movie. Apparently the movie deals with Sufi poetry. Very cool.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah

Photo Copyright 2005 Theoretical Entertainment

The Write about 52 D.I.Y. Films In 2006 Project
Film #2: The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah
For Week # 2 - January 8 - 14, 2006
A review by
Sujewa Ekanayake

The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah
A film written and directed by Chris Hansen
Length: Feature
Year of Production: 2005
Starring: Dustin Olson, Ellen Dolan, Joseph Frost, Heather Henry
Co-Writer & Music By: David Lovic, Producer: Brian Elliot, Director of Photography: Damon Crump, Editor & Website Designer: Josh Marshall
Production Company: Theoretical Entertainment

Unlike Jesus - the most famous messiah in my part of the world, Brian - the messiah in Chris Hansen's pseudo-documentary The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah does not have a large following. In fact his followers at the beginning of the film consist of just two people, his brother and sister - two people who, due to their birth relationship, probably could not stop supporting Brian the messiah even if they wanted to. Increasing the number of his followers is one of several objectives Brian the messiah tackles in his own laugh inducing, under-prepared and ill-informed way during the course of the movie. Now, if you are religiously inclined, you may be moved to whisper to yourself at this point that a movie making fun of the messiah concept may be a bad idea. However, Brian the messiah repeatedly states, when faced with such questions regarding the validity of his messiah claim by various characters in the movie, that he is not THE messiah but A messiah, a regional messiah. Trust me, this messiah offers no real competition to Jesus or for that matter to other more ordinarily human religious leaders of ancient or modern times. Brian the messiah also adds that the federal government had a role in him discovering that he is the messiah for the 100 mile area starting at the center of the town. Messiah was filmed in part in Waco, Texas. And judging from the closing credits of the movie, it was made with the support of the local government and various businesses and residents. Perhaps Waco is attempting to distance itself from the grim spectacle of the David Koresh/Branch Davidian tragedy. At least they seem to have a sense of humor. So who is this regional messiah that hails from a town in Texas? What is his mission, what problems will he have to overcome, what adventures will he take us on?

Brian the messiah (Dustin Olson) is a thin, balding, possibly middle aged man who looks like an older Neil Patrick Harris. As Brian the messiah Olson even sounds a little like Harris. Or perhaps I've seen too many episodes of Doogie Howser, MD. Brian the messiah lives with his wife Cecelia (Heather Henry), brother Aaron (Joseph Frost) and sister Miriam (Ellen Dolan). Those three characters appear to be in their later 20's or early 30's. Brian's brother is not too bright. Brian's sister worries a lot, looks out for her brothers and does not speak much. Brian's wife is happy that he pays the cable bill. Brian seems to get along pretty well with his wife, except when she interrupts his "messiah time", which I think lasts from 3-5 PM or something every day. Brian believes that he is descended from a long line of messiahs - except that his father and others may not have claimed their messiah identities and perhaps suffered because of that mistake. Brian also believes that he has special powers and is able to perform miracles. One funny scene shows Brian performing a "miracle" called the Miracle of the Fruit. Brian wonders what grand mission he should undertake, and what plans God has for him. Other then sending vibrations of peace through the town, shouting unwanted advice at pedestrians at a street corner, reflecting on the possibility that his mission in life could be to help heal people's stomach pains, Brian the messiah does not have a solid idea about his divine purpose. But as the film gets close to Act II, a way is found to help discover God's special plans for Brian.

Brian's sister Miriam insists that Jesus did not have a posse and that his followers were known as apostles, but Brian claims that a posse is the modern version of apostles and that he may be able to get some and discover his true purpose if he held a grand celebration to announce his existence. Thus a plan is hatched to rent the town hall, have a rally to announce Brian's messiahship, introduce himself to "his people" and create an opportunity for God to tell Brian about his special mission. Two major problems confront Brian and his siblings when it comes to holding the rally: coming up with the rental money for the town hall and coming up with the money to buy a large quantity of specially designed t-shirts. Brian believes that t-shirts aimed at kids will reel in families to his ministry. Brian decides to raise the necessary cash by performing messiah services for hire: baptisms at a lake, praying away unwanted guests and similar tasks that call for his unique gift. The degree of success achieved by these fund raising schemes lead us to two surprising developments at the end of the movie.

The rally does happen and it changes Brian's life in a completely unexpected way. By the end of the movie it became clear to me that even though Brian the messiah may be massively deluded, he is uncritically loved and supported by his family. That is perhaps as good as any divine gift or special designation that can be had by one of us mortals.

See another still photo from this movie here
Read another review of this movie at The Chutry Experiment

Thursday, January 12, 2006

War In Sri Lanka, Films, Peacemakers

US To Back Sri Lanka In War Against LTTE

Looks like the US is going to back the Sri Lankan military up if war breaks out again with the Tamil terrorist group the LTTE. Most excellent (as in, the threat of US support could make the LTTE think twice about starting the war back up on a large & open & obvious scale). Not sure exactly why Sri Lanka has not yet used its massive army (I believe the government armed forces outnumber the rebels at this point 20:1 or about 100,000 strong gov't forces against 5,000 or so LTTE fighters) against the LTTE despite recent violations of the cease-fire agreement. Maybe because of the high civilian casualties that will result when fighting an open war against a guerilla group - both among Tamils and everyone else, both from traditional organized, collateral damage heavy, warfare conducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the relatively indiscriminate suicide bombing tactics used by the LTTE. Nothing pretty coming from this situation. Peace and not having a whole bunch of people killed & seriously injured is preferred but seeing the fascist military dictatorship of the LTTE being destroyed is also very attractive.

Films Inspired By The War

And here are links regarding 4 films that were inspired by the war in Sri Lanka:

The Forsaken Land

Cannes 2005 Camera d'Or award winning Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthy Jayasundara had to flee Sri Lanka due to the Sri Lankan military's displeasure with his movie. His film is called The Foresaken Land or Sulanga Enu Pinisa in the Sri Lankan language Sinhala. As this event shows, for some people in this world movies are not just entertainment, but a matter of life and death or staying and possibly getting imprisoned, killed or going to France and being a sort of an international cinema artist in exile. Perhaps Jayasundara will make a movie about his post-Cannes life, about being banned in Sri Lanka, being on the run. That would be an interesting story.


Here are two takes on the film Saroja, a film about two young girls caught up in the war:

Looks like this is the site of the company that produced the film, a positive review & links can be found here.

And a not so favorable review from WSWS, which thinks the movie is government-friendly propaganda.

The Terrorist

Article and links about the Indian film The Terrorist, a drama about a female suicide bomber. A story believed to be inspired by the activities of the LTTE.

Death On A Full Moon Day

Purahanda Kaluwara or Death On A Full Moon Day (well, title officially translated to the English speaking world as Death On A Full Moon Day but the actual meaning of those words is something like Full Moon, Darkness. there I go, flexin' my limited Sinhala skillz) by
Prasana Withanage is an award winning and initially banned film that tells the story of a blind father who must accept the government's word that his soldier son has died.

You can buy a DVD of Purahanda Kaluwara from here.


Nonviolent Peaceforce

Nonviolent Peaceforce, a US non-profit with US & international peace workers, is active in Sri Lanka, attempting to get both sides to honor the ceasefire, protecting civilians and in general doing what they can to try to bring peace to a troubled land.


This Sri Lankan NGO has been active in development and peacemaking in Sri Lanka for a long, long time.

Angry Filmmaker On The Road In Early 2006 In US & Europe

Just got a tour announcement e-mail from Kelley Baker, aka the Angry Filmmaker - DIY filmmaker & distributor, re: his early 2006 touring activities. Here's the word directly from the man himself:

Kelley Baker says:

" It's 2006 and I'm still ANGRY! You gotta love consistency...

So what's up? I have named the new tour for 2006. It is...

The Angry Filmmaker's "Frankly Hollywood, I don't give a damn!" Tour 2006. Like I said, I'm still Angry, just look at what's been coming out of Hollywood lately. No wonder their numbers are down.

I want to thank all of those people who helped me come up with names, and those who helped me decide.

Now the important stuff. I am heading to the UK in February. I am in Dublin the week of February 13th, (screenings and lectures to be announced), at the macrobert in Stirling, Scotland, (Feb 21-23) and Calendar House in Fallkirk, Scotland (Feb 24). Then it's on to London. I'm waiting to hear back from some other venues, so I will be announcing a lot more UK dates shortly.

I am also booking the Spring US Tour and those dates are starting to fill up, March 13th thru Memorial Day. If you want to talk to me about booking, please drop me a line at

You know I want to see you all... "

Angrily yours,Kelley

Monday, January 09, 2006

Messiah Pic # 1, Review Is Near

In this scene from The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah, Brian, the Messiah for his city - not THE messiah but A messiah (Dustin Olson), accompanied by his loyal brother Aaron (Joseph Frost) and sister Miriam (Ellen Dolan) prays a prayer of blessing over the work of a road crew filling potholes, just before asking for a little donation to ‘defray the cost of’ his big messiah rally.
Photo Copyright 2005 Theoretical Entertainment

I just took a brief spiritual break and checked out a few scenes from Chris Hansen's new flick The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah. They were funny & intriguing. I am looking forward to checking out the entire flick tonight or tomorrow AM, as soon as I am done with this shoot out that I am having right now with a very short pimp (while Tom Waits' Anywhere I Lay My Head plays in the jukebox, some of the stray bullets are hitting the jukebox & causing it to play various show tunes). So, in the meantime, before I break out my Messiah review, in anticipation of it, presented above for your enjoyment is a still from the flick. Enjoy. More soon. I get Napoleon Dynamite type vibes from this project.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Baby We're Linked From GreenCine Daily!

Filmmaking Accomplishment #1 of 2006: getting listed & linked in the Bloggish section of the most excellent film blog GreenCine Daily.

Yes kids, getting publicity for this film work propaganda disseminating web based tool is an actual filmmaking accomplishment. Gots to have press or no one will know about yer flick.

Time to par-tay. Well at least for a lil' bit. OK. D-o-n-e. Now it is time to go do some editing on the movie. Except I am a little worn out from the partying that I just did.

Check out something worthwhile here: David Lowery reflects on DIY film distribution. I've been leaving waaay too many comments there today.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"Race Films" in Baltimore, Feb. 8-22

" "Midnight Rambles", late-night screenings at segregated black movie houses, provided a screening venue for African American filmmakers and a counterpoint to the often demeaning black roles in Hollywood."

At the Creative Alliance.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ninjas Need Love Too

This is John Stabb Schroeder (one of the original DC punk rock stars, of G.I./Government Issue fame) playing a ninja who goes on a blind date. A still from Date Number One, the ultra low budget D.I.Y. film that I am editing at the moment. Thought I play with the image adding function of Blogger today.

Photo Copyright 2005 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The New US Indie Film Frontier: D.I.Y. Distribution

(Originally published in Watch This Movie blog on Monday, October 24, 2005)

Making Distro Low Budget Indie & D.I.Y: Searching For & Building The New U.S. Indie Film Frontier. Thoughts On Expanding & Developing A New Field Of Existence For The American Indie Filmmaker, A Sub-Goal Of The "Date Number One" D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself, completely independent) Distro (distribution) Project.

By Sujewa Ekanayake

I am the maker (Producer/Screenwriter/Director/Cinematographer/Editor) and the distributor (D.I.Y. ultra-low budget self-distro effort including a 2 year U.S. tour) of the upcoming U.S. indie feature film "Date Number One" The film is being edited at the moment and the low-budget/no-budget pre-distribution promotional & publicity work will kick into a higher gear on Dec. 1 with a talk at Kensington Row Bookshop in Kensington, Maryland about the making of the movie I expect to begin theatrical screenings in Spring '06 - most likely in April, starting in Washington, D.C (the film will also be submitted to festivals world wide starting in Nov/Dec of this year). The primary goals of the self-distro project are of course to get the film seen by a lot of people and to make a profit from the project. There are secondary goals for the distro project, they are: 1) to see if an unknown, ultra-low budget/no budget filmmaker can successfully mount an ultra-low budget theatrical distribution effort for an ultra-low budget/no-star DV feature, and 2) to document the experience, make the notes available to the general public/other filmmakers so that they may be able to use the experience in distributing their own movies. Real indie distribution exists in the indie rock world to a very high degree, but, in the indie film world, at this point in time in the U.S.A., the same is not the case. Distribution, real indie/D.I.Y. distribution, is a new frontier for development in the U.S. indie film industry/scene and I will be jumping enthusiastically into that field of exploration.

So what may be the layout of this new frontier that I am attempting to discover more directly and further illuminate through the "Date Number One" self-distro project? Glimpses of this area can be seen by examining the distribution stories of "The Debut" and "Robot Stories" I do not know the exact dollar figure for the self-distribution expenses on either of those projects, and I do not know if the filmmakers (at least the directors) of those projects were able to make a living through the self-distribution process during the distribution period or eventually were able to pay themselves adequately for the work performed on behalf of the films. One of the questions that I expect to answer for myself through my distro project is whether self-distribution can be a day job for an indie filmmaker. I sense that D.I.Y. distro can pay the bills/keep the filmmaker/distributor alive, given the right film project and given a filmmaker/distributor who has relatively low living expenses. I know that in the indie rock world disciplined and committed bands make a living through touring and performing their work and through selling their songs on CDs and other formats. Can something very similar be done in the indie film world? Can an indie filmmaker side-step the entire Hollywood and Indiewood distribution culture and mechanisms (except when collaboration with those entities is a massive benefit for the project and do not compromise ownership and control of the project, here I am thinking about arrangements Jim Jarmusch makes for his movies) and make a living through self-distribution? Just as Fugazi and Ani DiFranco do in the music world, it may be possible for one or more filmmakers from a given film project to make all the money they need for a given period of time through working on distribution of that project. It may be possible to make a living through making and distributing quality art/indie ultra-low budget, no-star movies. With DV technology such movies are easier and more affordable to make now, just add years of hard work, talent & skill to make them excellent (see Rick Schmidt's book "Extreme DV At Used Car Prices" for info. on making DV features for under $3000 and for an intro to the basic work necessary), and through touring, selling DVDs and other low cost D.I.Y. distro efforts (possibly Video On Demand? see GreenCine for info. on that , and see my web page for the D.I.Y. 2005 Film Movement for more info. on the punk/indie rock industry/scene & Amir Motlagh, a CA based indie filmmaker who tours often, inspired approaches to indie film distro) it may be possible to make money back, make a profit, and perhaps even make a living. The New U.S. Indie Film World may already contain but can certainly contain, in significant numbers in the very near future, filmmakers/directors who distribute their work through touring, through DVD & other accessible methods, and do this as their primary or only source of income. To be able to do so without having to become entangled in Hollywood or Indiewood and the limitations imposed by their economic needs, processes, protocol, preferences and prejudices would mean the achievement of a new level of excellence in the business side of American indie film. To be able to do so will also open up new creative vistas for the filmmaker. If the filmmaker is able to self-finance (through profits, fame, connections and most importantly experience gained from previous self-distro projects) and self-distribute a given low-budget art/indie project, she can have greater control over the cost of production, casting, subject matter, aesthetic choices and all other aspects of her movie. Indie-distributors-for-hire services offered by companies such as Artistic License and Truly Indie may be useful in expanding self-distro campaigns for certain features (perhaps after the filmmaker/distributor makes some money back from several dozen theatrical screenings and a lot of DVD sales or other project related revenue sources created by the initial self-distribution efforts, because hiring another company to expand self-distribution will most likely be more expensive than doing the work directly yourself). I will explore all these tantalizing possibilities through the "Date Number One" self-distro project from Spring '06 to Spring/Summer '08, and will report the results of this experiment.

And a parting, somewhat related, thought: more indie film theaters/screening venues may have to be created/the economic possibility for creating more such venues may exist at this point. Just as the birth and development of punk and indie rock gave rise to dedicated venues to perform that work, the increase in production due to DV and popularity of the indie process may be an opportunity for opening more indie theaters that cater mostly to art/indie low-budget/D.I.Y. films. Creating and operating such venues can also be a day job for the indie/D.I.Y. filmmaker. Something worth looking into (check outthese venues for examples and possible inspiration: Ragtag Cinemacafe, Northwest Film Forum, Storefront Cinema

Sunday, January 01, 2006

How to come up with $7300 for your '07 feature

Yup, I said '07, as in 2007, as in the year that begins about 365 days from now.

Here's the simple strategy:
Put $20 away in a piggy bank or a bank account or a treasure chest buried in your back yard EVERY DAY THIS YEAR. By 1/1/07 you should have about $7300.

$7300 is plenty to shoot a no-budget/ultra-low budget indie DV feature with. If you need tips on working on such a budget check out some of Rick Schmidt's low budget filmmaking books, such as Extreme DV Filmmaking At Used Car Prices. Extreme DV has tips on making a DV feature for under $3,000.

So what are you going to do until January 1, '07, until you save up that $7300? Hone your craft. Figure out how to write your scripts or how to improve your screenwriting skills. Figure out how to direct better. Figure out how to shoot and light. Master sound recording. Master editing, learn Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc. really well. Learn graphic design, try it out. Learn web design, there are cheap & easy ways to make a good web site. Research self-distribution and other distribution options, companies, individuals that you may need to connect with on that front. Take one or more acting classes, learn about what your actors have to go through so that you can become a better director. Start a blog, a sure way to generate some press for your career and projects. Finish up a bunch of scripts. Make some shorts, make them excellent without using a lot of money (and definitely do not pull from your savings for the '07 feature).

Before you know it, it will be January 1, 2007. Then if you did well on your save-$20-a day project you'll have the $s you need to start production. And if you used your 2006 to refine your skills, the money you saved in '06 will be put to good use in '07.

Good luck. Do things and things will get done.