Monday Links

Working through some thoughts on Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price, which will hopefully be posted in the next day or so, but the short version is that you should consider me as part of the “underwhelmed” camp.  In essence, I’m not sure that Anderson is really saying anything particularly new.  There is a relatively long history of giving some content or service away for “free” in order to sell something else (TV and radio are or were “free” for a long time, with broadcasters selling the audience’s attention to advertisers, to name one example that still guides current debates about digital distribution), making his claims that “Free” is “radical” or “revolutionary” ring somewhat hollow to me.  I’m still sifting through some ideas, however, before I write a longer review.  For now, a few quick links:

  • Karina Longworth has linked to several videos designed to promote various Mumblecore films.  The first three were produced by Mumblecore director Andrew Bujalski and feature parodies of Elvira and Dracula, complete with homemade effects.  The segments were produced for Canadian television, and as Karina observes, the goofy humor and low-budger effects work well.  The other is an ad from BBC 4 promoting the broadcast of a few Mumblecore films that, well, looks like something left on the cutting room floor of Reality Bites II: The Mumblecore Years.  Complete with quick cuts and “young attractive people standing in front of graffitied walls,” the actors in the advertisement seem about as connected to Mumblecore as Winona Ryder and Ben Stiler seemed to “Generation X.”  The BBC ad is worth watching just to see how Mumblecore is packaged as a concept.
  • This is several months old, but this Google Maps mashup, which allows users to post pointers to their favorite arthouse theaters is pretty cool.  There is a related article on the place of arthouse theaters in local communities, both from PBS’s Independent Lens.
  • Matt Dentler has an interesting post on “Arthouse TV,” in which he observes that at the recent Sundance Producers Summit, a number of indie executives discussed the ways in which independent movies now find themselves competing with quality television such as Mad Men, True Blood, Big Love, 30 Rock, and The Office. This is something I’ve been discussing with collagues for a while now.  Given the success of HBO and others in positioning themselves as providing quality television, the “distinction” associated with independent film isn’t always as clear.

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