I’m working on my contribution to my workshop panel at SCMS and have found myself thinking quite a bit about the relationship between digital video (DV) and the recent DIY culture that has grown up around it, which we’ve certainly seen among some of my favorite film bloggers. Because this is a workshop panel, I have a little more room to speculate and point towards interesting possibilities rather than reaching conclusions (which is kind of nice). These thoughts are all over the place right now, and I’d love to hear from indie filmmakers (and other interested folks) on some of these issues.
With that in mind, I’ll be tracking a few links to blog entries, websites, articles, and other materials that have been informing my thinking on these issues. I’ve already mentioned my interest in the buzz around My Space: The Movie and my curiosity about Dylan Avery’s Loose Change, which calls into question many of the claims about the September 11 attacks (I’ll try to write a short review later, but the doc does raise some interesting questions).
But as I’ve mentioned, I’m also very interested in the DIY community that seems to be forming in (or near) my corner of the film blogosphere. In particular, Sujewa has been incredibly active, not only in promoting his Date Number One, which I can’t wait to see, but also a punk rock DIY ethos. He’s also asking some important questions about whether DIY filmmaking can be a “day job,” which I think is an important question when it comes to the autonomy of the filmmaker and his or her work. I’m inclined to disagree with Sujewa to some extent and suggest that it’s relatively rare that a DIY movie maker can earn enough to make it a full-time gig, even if the quality of work is quite good, but I’m certainly open to hearing from others who might be more optomistic than I am.
David Lowery also discusses some of the issues at stake with regards to DIY, namely the distribution question. Of course digital distribution has been celebrated as an alternative to theatrical release, but like David (and Sujewa), I’m still pretty attached to the big screen (and here, I find David’s comparison with the music industry quite helpful). David also discusses the role of a filmmaker’s signature in using DIY priciples, specifically when he discusses the marketing/promotion of Mark Cuban-Steven Soderbergh experiments with “day-and-date” release for Bubble, which relied heavily on Soderbergh’s reuptation as a pop experimentalist.
There’s also a nice collection of links at Self-Reliant Filmmaking, where Paul Harrill has been asking some interesting questions over last few weeks. He also mentions the International Documentary Challenge, which sounds really interesting (and I think this short form can be an effective way of putting together an interesting doc).
I do have another question that may be difficult to answer: I’ve noticed that my digital DIY culture, is well, pretty much a boy’s club. I’m certainly aware that women are doing interesting work in independent film and video, but I can’t help but think that the construction of this version of DIY filmmaking has somehow been coded as male, and I’m wondering what might be producing that perception.
Finally, just a couple of additional pointers to atuthor Rick Schmidt’s website, where he is proting his filmmaking manual, Extreme DV at Used Car Prices, and to the Lost Film Festival, which looks like an interesting venue.
Update: Here’s some more information about Four Eyed Monsters, one of the more interesting self-distributed film projects I’ve encountered. Their video podcasts are highly entertaining and do a fantastic job of creating demand for the film (one of the film’s directors, Susan Buice, notes that each episode of their video podcast series has been downloaded 50,000 times, which would not be an insignificant audience for a low-budget indie).