Friday Links

I finally caught Inception last night and may have more to say about it later.  My basic impression of the film was that it was more clever than good.  The dream sequences seemed far too linear and scripted and far too much like 1980s action movies–cue the snow chase scene with explosives–to be convincing as dreams, unless you’re Michael Bay, I guess.  Still, the concept of implanting thoughts in people’s dreams is an interesting one and  plays with some of the tropes of the conspiracy thriller.  More on that soon, but for now, here are some links:

  • Jason Sperb offers an excellent reading of the overuse of the word “maverick” when discussing independent filmmakers.  It echoes one of the beefs I have with defining “independence” as an intangible category, a la the Independent Spirit Awards, but he also points to the strengths of two recent studies of independent film production by James Mottram and Sharon Waxman.
  • Inside Redbox offers an interesting tidbit that actually offers me some encouragement: apparently public libraries lend more movies than either of their major competitors, Redbox or Netflix.  These numbers don’t include Netflix’s streaming service, which would change these overall numbers considerably (and I’m a little skeptical of their methods for counting the number of movie “rentals”), but it’s easy to forget that libraries are a major source of media content.
  • Speaking of Redbox, they are starting to move more assertively toward offering a small selection of Blu-Ray discs in their kiosks at a price of $1.50 per day, rather than the $1.00 price for normal DVDs.  Also related, more information on the cost differences between streaming video and mailing DVDs for Netflix (see also NewTeeVee).
  • Ted Hope has a thoughtful post weighing the “filter problem” that challenges both consumers and producers of independent film.  Hope’s central question is one that has haunted indie filmmakers for a while now: “when we all have over 1000 films on our To Watch list, how do we begin to make a choice?”  See also Hope’s Curator’s Note at In Media Res, which presents a short clip associated with Braden King’s transmedia project, Here.  The YouTube clip accompanying the note is engaging, and as Hope argues, it’s crucial to expand our definition of transmedia storytelling beyond the genre texts (The Matrix, etc), with which its typically associated.  Perhaps one (limited) answer to Hope’s question is that we all contribute to the process of finding, discussing, and curating the stories that interest us whenever possible.
  • Documentary Tech has a series of posts about what promises to be an intriguing documentary, Nathaniel Hansen’s The Elders.  The most recent post offers a flavor of the interviews Hansen has conducted, while an older post traces Hansen’s fund raising efforts through Kickstarter and the audience response to some of the interviews he had posted online.  But like many recent documentaries, Hansen seems to be succeeding in combining online and film content.
  • And in news that has my inner-documentary fanboy grinning, Helvetica and Objectified filmmaker Gary Hustwit has announced the third film in his “design trilogy,” Urbanized, a film focused on issues of urban design.

Update: I missed this before, but Cinematical has an article about SnagFilms’ second annual Summer Fest, an online program of new documentaries posted prior to their television or theatrical debuts.  The lead-off film, The Age of Stupid, did have a one-day event screening, a simultaneous premiere in dozens of cities across the US and beyond, but many of the planned films are relatively new, including Videocracy, a documentary I caught at this year’s Full Frame.


  1. Geoffrey Long Said,

    August 2, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    For the most part, I’m totally with you on Inception. If it hadn’t been quite so beautifully shot, it would have been completely a gimmick flick. And I completely agree with you and the good Mr. Hope – it’s true that sci-fi/fantasy/conspiracy genre flicks might be easily suited to transmedia due to all the worldbuilding inherent in their production, but there’s all kinds of nifty things yet to be done with things like romances, comedies or documentaries. Thanks for the links!

  2. Chuck Said,

    August 4, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    Thanks for the comment, Geoffrey. In some cases, I think my bulleted lists cause me to be imprecise because I think you’re absolutely right about the potential for other kinds of transmedia narratives, especially documentary, where transmedia can be used to extend the life of a story, in much the same way that DVD extras do (at minimum updating the “characters” in a personal documentary). I should have been much clearer there.

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