Digital Video May Be Cheaper, but That Doesn’t Mean You’ll Profit

Wired News covers the problem the digital-video only film studio, InDigEnt, is having sustaining success and making money for itself and the filmmakers who take a chance on producing ultra-low-budget flicks on DV instead of film.

The problem, of course, is not getting the movies made — it’s getting them distributed, since that’s where the money is, and it’s a competitive game locked up by the major distributors and studios.

Movie-sports mogul Mark Cuban has put together a DV production company that looks a little more promising, if only because he owns a theater chain. That company’s co-founder tells Wired, “If you don’t own the means of distribution, there is no valid production model.”

It’s just a version of the Times story I commented on back in November, about aspiring independent filmmakers who have basically bankrupted themselves producing a film that has been shown at prestigious festivals, but not been picked up for distribution.

Having inexpensive and high-quality means for production at your disposal is both important and remarkable. But the old saying about the better mousetrap isn’t true for media: just because you make a better film doesn’t mean the world (or distributors) will lead a path to your door.

The business model of the modern media cartel is premised on control and full exploitation. Time/Warner, Sony, Viacom and their brothers-in-arms have no interest in letting outsiders in, unless they can make a good bet on buying up the rights and exploiting the hell out of whatever film they get. But there are so many people trying for those few opportunities, it is a buyer’s market — which means most sellers lose.

If you’re a rich bastard like Mark Cuban you have a better shot at challenging the movie cartel than a guy with a DV camera, Final Cut Pro and 10 grand in credit card debt.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t cracks in the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard. There’s plenty of ways to get a film or video seen — they just take a little more work and creativity, and lower expectations of fame and profit. But if it’s fame and profit you seek, you’re better off whoring your way up the ladder at a studio than striking out on your own, anywy.






One response to “Digital Video May Be Cheaper, but That Doesn’t Mean You’ll Profit”

  1. Jason Scott Avatar

    I’ve mentioned this in a few places; the article is kind of crap, another set of whiny filmmakers complaining because they thought a half-baked work and a semi-baked media plan would ensure some idealistic concept of “success” in their minds.

    Fuck that noise. You know, the BBS documentary has no distribution company but myself, and I’ve done really well by it. You know why? It doesn’t suck and it appeals to its choice audience.

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