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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two ideas DIY filmmakers do not have to accept

1. DVD is not a public exhibition format.

Well, that depends on the venue. In a small room, say one that seats around 50 - 100, it may be perfectly fine to screen using a DVD. I know Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker has successfully screened (without technical problems) his movies quite possibly hundreds of times thus far using DVDs. I've also screened Date Number One about 20 times so far, to crowds that range from 25 - 100, using DVDs.

HOWEVER, some venues may have trouble using DVDs; not sure why this exactly is, 'cause DVD players work perfectly fine for millions of people - so, it is a good idea to have your movie on Beta or DigiBeta or some other pro tape format. Also, many film festivals may also request your movie on a pro tape format for their screenings.

Another option is to screen using MiniDV. I've tried this - using a MiniDV camera as the playback source, works fine. If you have a feature you'd have to get it on a MiniDV or DV tape that can hold it (i think some tapes can hold 90 - 120 mins.). Plus you'll have to make sure there is a MiniDV or DV deck, if you plan on doing several screenings; so that you do not wear out your camera by using that as a deck.

But, if you can't afford to create a pro tape version of the movie or you just don't want to do it, and specially if you are producing your own screening, DVD might work - based on size of the venue, distance from screen & power of the projector, desired image & audio quality, etc.

2. Filmmakers make movies, distributors distribute.

Distributors have advanced that idea; that if you have to do the "difficult or unsavory" work of distribution, you are not being a filmmaker. This is completely false, specially for DIY filmmakers; filmmakers should know everything there is to know about film distribution & marketing & have experience with it & be able to carry it out if need be, otherwise you maybe making movies just to watch at your house only.

- Sujewa

2 comments:

jmj said...

I have to say that I don't totally agree with you about DVD being a legitimate form of exhibition. While it may be "fine" or "okay" it's not great. Especially when you consider the time, effort, and money that filmmakers like myself put into creating meaningful visuals. If I shoot something on 720p HD (or even MiniDV for that matter) and it only gets projected on DVD then my image quality is being severely degraded and my color saturation is being grossly muted.

Instead of concentrating on lesser forms of media we should be pushing for a new model all together. No media. That's right, no media. Forget DVDs or paying to have Beta dubs made. The true future of DIY distro should be completely digital. With a laptop plugged into a projector any venue can play a full res quicktime file. The filmmaker just need put the film on an Ipod or some other small hard drive and send it to the venue. Then you have zero degradation.

In most cases the only image loss would come from the various quality of projectors (some still don't play full res HD). Even in that case it has to be better then playing on DVD.

If we move forward as artist in DIY distribution we have to demand that venues play our films in the best form possible instead of taking what we can get. To me it's no different than a painter expecting a gallery to have good lighting or a band wanting a venue with a good sound board.

This is something I feel film festivals are severely lacking in. They of all people should be on the forefront of issues like this. Think of how much money filmmakers could save if they didn't have to pay for Beta or Digibeta dubs to send out! And even if the film is being shown on DigiBeta it is still a loss of quality (considering most people have moved on to 720p HD).

Now all this being said, in these early stages of the process you have to work with the most prevalent technology which unfortunately at this time is DVD or Beta. All I know is if I ever decide to go on the road with one of my films I'm bringing my laptop.

The Sujewa said...

True, any video projector that can plug into a DVD player should be able to plug into a laptop (at least I think that's the case).

Yeah, I am all for showing/screening using the best possible medium; but just as shooting on DV when 16 MM was not affordable, I am all for getting the work screened even if the only way to do it is to use DVDs.

But, like in all things, each DIY filmmaker will have to make (& should) their own decisions re: presentaion. With each film/filmmaker I present at Lo-Def - for example, I am looking forward to exploring all possible presentation possibilities (except perhaps 16 MM or 35 MM or another film format, we are not set up for that now - but who knows, all things are possible in the future).

- Sujewa

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