DIY DistributionApril 10th, 2011 | Posted by in Uncategorized
Distribution is a big concern for anyone who makes movies, especially those who do it independently. After completing a film, getting it seen—as intended—is obviously important, and it can be a challenge. But the unknown filmmaker isn’t the only one who can have problems with the traditional distributors. Even well-known filmmakers have decided that there are better ways to distribute than giving their movies up to the big distributors.
Now, I’m no fan of Kevin Smith, but I’m interested in his distribution plans for the upcoming Red State. Rather than go through his normal distribution channels, which had been Miramax, then The Weinstein Company, he has decided to try it on his own with his newly formed SModcast Pictures. Instead of the normal release, he is doing a roadshow-style tour, which features a Q and A with Smith, before the traditional release this October (the film was here in Seattle last week). Though it sounds like an original release model, for someone who has used the internet and social media extensively, like Smith has, it’s really not. It’s your basic limited release, version 2.0. It still plays in a limited number of theaters, and ends in a traditional release.
A more interesting idea that’s more rooted in where the form is going than where it has been is David Lynch. His website had been subscription-based with short videos, including an animated series of shorts, though most of it would have been considered “content” as opposed to “short films.” It’s now a mostly music-based experience, but the idea is the same. Lynch is taking, and with the new focus on music, enabling other artists to take, control of his own creations. It doesn’t matter if doesn’t appeal to a mass audience—if it’s too abstract, too challenging, too weird.
When the creators are in charge, they can be sure that what the audience sees is what they are intended to. The internet is the clearest way for that to happen. I don’t say this because I work for an independent, internet-based distributor; I say this because this is simply where everything is headed. Traditional movie theaters will never disappear—or I certainly hope they don’t. There’s something about being in an auditorium with the big screen and the enveloping sound that no home system, however good it is, can compare to. But ticket prices aren’t getting any cheaper, other people’s cell phones aren’t getting any less annoying, and the audience is becoming more and more accustomed to watching what they want when they want to.
I want to give a big thanks to IndieFlix’s own Charley for telling me about Lynch’s site (click here for his great posting about it on IndieFlix’s old blog). What do you think of these well-known filmmakers distributing their work themselves?