The story of getting a film made ........again!

Consuming Moving Images

Full CinemaAccording to an article in the Los Angeles Times recently, cinema attendance is significantly down. I believe the same is true for our domestic market. I live in Kilkenny, Ireland which is a town (a city by Royal Charter going way back let it be said) of about 25,000 people. Those who know me are aware of my constant gripe about how badly served we are, cinema wise which is a four screen cineplex. Cinema owners are business people first and will therefore show the latest 3D FX driven star vehicle ahead of lesser ticket selling, though perhaps more thought provoking low budget fare. But there’s a problem, that which used to pull the punters, no longer is. At least not in the numbers from only a year previous.

Up until recently, we had two DVD rental stores in town then one of them closed, even after having diversified into gaming, mobile phones and internet access. That store was an indie, what’s left is a store from a nationwide chain – Xtravision, which apparently has its own debt problems. I decided to rent The Black Swan on its DVD release, but when I got to the store, they had all been rented. A whole night had been planned around watching this film and there I was left empty handed. I took myself off to HMV and bought the Blu-ray version because I got a copy for my iPod as a bonus. But the point is, I was quite prepared to buy rather than be inconvenienced by yet another night of unavailability. The Social Network was unavailable to rent for an entire week. Now I can also download from iTunes and that’s great but here’s the thing, I don’t want to wait in future and more than likely will buy or download before I even check if it’s available for rent. The rental store is a model that’s dying, like the VHS tape, it’s had it’s day.

While my demographic is finding the cineplex a wasteland for good films, networks like HBO are stepping into the breach with some excellent dramas. But even there I will much sooner wait to see reviews and catch the buzz on these things before spending God knows how many hours following before concluding that it’s not for me. If I subsequently hear that something is worth watching, I’ll buy the box set. I guess that means that time is more precious to me than money, but isn’t it for all of us?

How we watch, what we watch and when we watch it is in flux right now and will probably remain so for a number of years to come. That’s not such a bad thing when you think about it. When producers fight for your viewership, be it on cinema screens, TV, PC, iPod or whatever, quality will most probably win the battle. Or is that just a little naive?

But this is where it gets interesting, as predicted by Chris Anderson in a video in 2006. Long Tail economics are now kicking in at an accelerated pace. This has to mean enormous potential and opportunity now for low budget independent films, because it is now possible to chart a business model that will sustain that activity, without endless reliance on either state funding or for that matter crowd funding. Like everything else in the market place, if what you produce is good, it can now sell.

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  1. Very true Pat, great blog.
    But that video and the facts contained in it are 5 years old. In web land, an eternity. What is the picture like now? I am sure it is strongly leaning towards the thin end of the long tail and this is where opportunities are ripe for plucking for the artist seeking a distribution method for their work. The thing is he or she may have to sit on it for a long time and wait for revenue to come in and that is the new business model emerging. This model will effect how films are budgeted and structured to payback investors. Brave new world, waiting to be populated.

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