Guest Post: Gary Baddeley “Towards A Sustainable Independent Film Community”
Information needs to be shared. To fix this thing of ours, we have to speak up and out about what we want and how we operate. I was recently approached by an old friend, Gary Baddeley, about helping him do just that. Allow him to give you the details. Help him out, okay? - Ted Hope
Ted Hope and I live at opposite ends of the independent film world. I distribute niche-focused documentaries while Ted produces some of the most acclaimed films in our industry. Despite our operating in very different ways and with disparate budgets, we agree that we are working in an “industry” that is not adequately addressing the needs of the independent film community. We both seek to develop new business models so that the independent movement can return to sustainability.
As President of The Disinformation Company, I've been involved in breaking down some of the barriers between filmmakers and fans. For instance, in 2004 I helped director Robert Greenwald release his first two political documentaries, Uncoveredand Outfoxed via fan-organized screenings and DVD sales (both retail and direct to consumer) -- before a theatrical run. As crazy as it sounds today, the “organize your own screenings and sell direct” model didn’t exist back then and Robert and his various partner organizations, starting with MoveOn, essentially invented it. His current company, Brave New Films, grew out of that experience and is now at the forefront of progressive activism through film.
We subsequently suffered through the not-so-slow demise of DVD sales as consumers shifted towards downloading and streaming movies online, legally or otherwise. In 2008 we chose to release a movie that I produced called 2012: Science or Superstition on iTunes several weeks prior to the DVD street date. It turned out to be a good move and we’ve pushed hard to place our films on cable VOD systems as well as the various iVOD platforms. Our “digital” business is now bigger than our DVD business, but it suffers from a whole other set of problems, principally a series of gatekeepers and toll-takers.
The one constant, despite some successes, is that it is incredibly hard to market and distribute our films effectively. The level of investment of both money and effort is simply not sustainable, even for the most dedicated of filmmakers, like George Langworthy and Maryam Henein, whose documentary Vanishing of the Bees we’re releasing this month after years of effort by the co-directors in creating awareness for the film and the important issue it highlights.
For the past two years, I've engaged a variety of Internet entrepreneurs to help me think about these challenges. I've now partnered with a few of them to pursue a new venture focused on enabling filmmakers to foster direct relationships with their fans, to more efficiently market their films, sell tickets to screenings of those films in theaters and other venues, and release the films on as many platforms as possible. But we need your help. We want to hear from as many of Ted's readers as we can. We need you, the filmmakers, to let us know what your needs and priorities are so that we can build the best services possible to help you market and release your movies.
We hope that you’ll be interested in helping us to start solving some of the problems we all face in the world of independent film. If you take 5 minutes to fill out this survey, you will begin to see how we are thinking.
We really looking forward to meeting you, assisting you, and becoming part of the solution to building a sustainable independent film community for the creators, for the financiers, for distributors, for exhibitors, and for the audience.
|Gary Baddeley is the CEO of The Disinformation Company (www.disinfo.com), producing and distributing documentary films. He is also a co-founder of Orson a new technology company that is developing software as a studio for the independent film community.|