Tuesday Links

I’ve reached that nice part of the semester where class prep is starting to feel a little more routine but I haven’t yet accumulated a stack (or multiple stacks) of papers to grade, so I’m slowly but surely starting to map some ideas for future projects (hopefully more on that soon).  For now, a few links that are worth checking out:

  • The New York Times has an interesting round table, organized by Manhola Dargis and A.O. Scott, on the state of indie film culture.  For people interested in these issues, there is quite a bit of useful material here.   The article is framed by the discussion of the ongoing crisis in indie distribution and worrying that “serious, middle-size movies will become an endangered species.”  But what’s notable about the discussion is its openness to video-on-demand and other new formats, referring to them as a “new era of spectatorship.”  On a quick skim, one particularly astute observation comes from Howard Cohen of Roadside Attrctions who observes that the 90s “boom” in indie profitability benefited from the advent of the DVD.  Now that the format is seeing declining sales, indie films are especially affected.  Others, including Cohen, deconstruct the idea of a past “golden age” of cinema during teh 1960s and ’70s, noting that audiences for films such as 400 Blows likely weren’t significantly larger than today’s art-house audience.  If I’m reading the article correctly, it looks like this will be the first in a series of articles investigating the transformation of independent film distribution and culture.  And based on what I’ve seen so far, it should be well worth following.
  • Some interesting research from Silicon Alley Insider on how people use Twitter.  Some of these findings seem relatively consistent with what I’ve seen in the past: slightly more than half all who use Twitter are female.  Most people rarely or never tweet, and 10% of people who tweet account for 90% of all tweets.
  • Eugene Hernandez has a post on a Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) panel on the role of social media tools in helping to preserve and cultivate a vibrant indie film culture.  Worth noting is Ted Hope’s efforts to champion “DIWO cinema” (do-it-with-others) as an alternative to the more-widely discussed concept of DIY.  Hope expands on these ideas in his blog.  Implicit in some of my work on digital distribution is the idea that fans can become participants in the promotion of a film, and in some cases, can become involved in creating the film text itself.  As someone who relishes talking about movies (as you might have guessed by now), I think this is an interesting discussion.
  • On a relate note, Patrick Goldstein has a thoughtful article on the complicated efforts to find distribution for Richard Linklater’s critically-acclaimed Me and Orson Welles.
  • Henry Jenkins offers part two of his response to David Bordwell’s blog post on transmedia storytelling (I addressed some of these issues the other day).  One key takeaway: For Jenkins, “the core aesthetic impulses behind good transmedia works are world building and seriality.”  I think he’s probably right about this point and correct to add that these storytelling impulses may work better for some genres than others.

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