Microcinema Pitfalls

I’ve been a bit more tuned in to microcinema lately as a result of talking more with my old pal Jason Pankoke from Micro-Film magazine and reading his new Champaign local microcinema ‘zine, C-U Confidential. (Listen to Jason’s recent appearance on the radioshow.)

However, my enthusiasm for radically independent film and video is still tempered by technical glitches that detract from the story and action, rather than add to it. One recent film I saw, made in the serial form, was very well put together, except for the sound, which was often difficult to hear and plagued with continuously inconsistent ambient noise. I acknowledge it may bother me more than an average viewer, but even some non-video-geeks I talked to noticed the more egregious examples.

So, I can completely empathize with Film Flap’s Five Things I Hate about Microbudget Movies. In addition to poor sound, I agree with:

One of the most frustrating things I’ve come across is discovering a movie I have no possible way of seeing. It’s wonderful to hear about a film that does great at a festival, but tragic when it isn’t distributed in any form. If it’s only going to be available on the obscure fest circuit, what’s the point? If no DVD is coming, why torture me? Release a version on the internet so those of us not living in city “worthy” of your movie can see it, okay?






One response to “Microcinema Pitfalls”

  1. JasonP Avatar


    I have to agree in general with Film Flap’s assessments … I’ve obviously seen enough micro-budget work to verify that these annoying qualities crop up time and again. I’m sure part of it has to do with viewing “unfinished” work, with the filmmakers probably hoping that, once distribution and/or sales come to pass, that it’ll be worth the bother going back and smoothing out rough edges. (Obviously, tinkering in post can do little about atrocious performances.) Sadly, I have also watched “final release versions” on commerical DVDs that retain bad edits, inconsistent sound mixing, and so on and so forth.

    Specifically in regards to Film Flap’s observation about the availability of movies, I think one has to remember why movies play the film festival circuit in the first place – in the hopes of attracting distributors that will help bring in sales to pay for said movies. Even micro-budget pictures cost *something,* often meaning that filmmakers *still* owe money to one or more people. If you have the responsibility to pay those people back for investing in your film, then you really don’t have the flexibility of handing out your movie “for free” to your potentially adoring public. Filmmakers also count on sales to help finance their follow-up projects.

    Now, if your film has been languishing for an extremely long time without a berth in the marketplace (such as a little ditty from Nashville that we both know and love), *then* maybe it’s time for the filmmakers to make a compromise with themselves and everyone else to insure that the film (and all the hard work put into it) isn’t for naught. To wit – if a movie only plays in a director’s home theater without an attentive audience to watch it, does it ever really make some noise?

    I’m uncertain why Film Flap indirectly singled out J.T. Petty’s SOFT FOR DIGGING (via hotlink) as indicative of their “Let us see your unreleased movie already!” diatribe. Vanguard Cinema released SFD on DVD two years ago this month; it’s still listed for sale on Amazon.com.

    As for the movie serial in question, yeeeeeeeeeeesssss, the sound needs major work, and the filmmaker knows it. I can observe that the quality of the soundtrack of episode 3 is much better than in 1 and 2, but I think what he should do is simply finish editing together his opus, let it sit for a bit, and then go back and do a total overhaul to clean up the audio and balance the levels better. JB needs one or two sound technicians on his side who can give him objective guidance in ironing out most if not all of the problems, a lot of which probably stem from using the actual on-location audio recording for the dialogue.

    ~ JasonP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *