Category Archives: Indie Film Platforms

Online Shopping Makes Indie Film Easier

Maybe I’m just a shop-a-holic and haven’t quite come to accept and admit it. But I think that – besides the advances in camera gear and the potential for internet distribution and marketing – e-commerce and e-shopping are disruptive elements in microbudget indie filmmaking.

Some of the stuff is maybe obvious – you can pre-order your camera online and it will be shipped to you. We shopped for our lights, shoulder rigs and follow-focus units in China and India, bought them with paypal and then had them shipped to our door – cheaper than you would have paid to “buy locally” ten years ago. Of course this isn’t just a technical question. It has also been made possible in large measure by sweatshop conditions in developing countries. And these conditions themselves made possible by repressive political conditions that make unionization difficult and often illegal. Is there anything that have a certain amount of blood spilled on it – including indie film?

But the possibilities are truly expansive and quite niche. We needed an iPad with a broken screen for our lead character, Santiago. Sure enough, we found an iPad with a broken screen that still functioned normally otherwise on ebay. It arrived at our door today from California, less than one week after we ordered it. It also arrived at the same time as a 5′ x 25′ roll of Neutral Density gel (which will allow us to darken the windows so that they don’t look blown out in the shots – the D7000 camera doesn’t have great dynamic range so we really need this stuff). We bought that from a surplus stock that someone in Calgary had and paid about half-price what you would at a store in Toronto. Before the internet, craigslist/kijiji and ebay that stuff may well have just ended up in the trash.

Nor do we need a clapper/slate to mark scenes – those classic devices of film myth. We all know them – the 2nd Assistant Camera holds them in front of the camera and calls out the scene number, shot number and take number. Well, there’s now an app for the iPad and Mac computer that automates the video file labelling process using a QR code (not surprisingly the app is called QRSlate). We downloaded it to an iPad (another one that we borrowed from Reece, one of our awesome camera operators) and purchased it in the App Store on one of our Macbook Pros. It arrived instantly, costing less than it would to rent a clapper from a rental house.

For health and sanity reasons I don’t recommend it. But you can practically crew up, gear up and do your pre-production paperwork without ever leaving your house – and for a fraction of the price you once could. This relative ease of filmmaking ought to come with a responsibility, however, to make films that don’t simply try to mimic the Hollywood model. Not to say that every film should be a call to revolution. Just that we don’t need any longer to be slaves to the levelling effect of mass produced commodity culture demanded by high cost productions.

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Filed under About BNY, Gear, Indie Film Platforms, Internet 2.0, Micro budget, Pre-production, Production Diary, Uncategorized

Dov Simens’ Movie Cloud: Walmart Or Saviour For Indies?

Dov Simens is a real showman – obvious from the video for his Movie Cloud IndieGoGo campaign – and runs a very popular workshop known as the 2 Day Film School that, apparently, Quentin Tarantino went to. Many years ago I read his book and while I don’t remember a lot of the details now, I do remember that he filled it with the kind of chutzpah about filmmaking that you see here – a sort of populist hammering about how you don’t need film school or Hollywood to make a movie – or even a lot of money. So, the Movie Cloud for which he is trying to raise money through an IndieGoGo campaign is very much vintage Dov Simens.

It remains to be seen whether Movie Cloud can rise above all the other attempts to create indie film platforms for production, financing, social networking and distribution out there. It’s a bit of a Wild West as a lot of people recognize the combined potential that has been created for indie filmmaking by the equipment revolution (HDSLRs, the RED, cheap gear from China & India) on the one hand and by the marketing and distribution possibilities inherent in the internet and video streaming. Already, in financing there is IndieGoGo and Kickstarter dominating the crowdfunding space and Slated, which is trying for a more “prestigious” and “professional” model of financing using professional networking. Stage 32 provides a space to social network with other film artists if you need to crew up or cast. Junto Box acts as a crowdsourced film studio that provides production and financing options. And platforms like distrify and Distribber – not to mention Hulu, YouTube & Vimeo – offer alternative models for distributing your film.

So, it’s not as though there aren’t people trying to fill the vacuum created by the gap between the number of indie films shot each year (Simens claims 50K) and the number of films released by Hollywood (around 200). But Movie Cloud – meant to be a movie bank, a virtual production studio, social network and Netflix-like distribution platform – is the first that I’ve heard of that tries to bring it all under one virtual roof. Is that kind of vertical integration a bad thing? (Walmart, cough, cough) Probably in the long run. I wouldn’t want to see the monopolization of indie filmmaking/distribution as a “solution” to the present dire situation. But right now the main problem for indie filmmakers is trying to find any place to get financing and/or distribution so the more the merrier. And with Simens mercurial touch, Movie Cloud is sure to blow wide open indie filmmaking in the internet 2.0 world. That makes their IndieGoGo campaign one worth supporting, even with a cautious eye to the future.

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Filed under About BNY, Indie Film Platforms, Internet 2.0