Saturday, August 09, 2008

2 example of relatively poor/not focused on wealth building & ultimately marketers of an intellectual product who have reshaped the world

Being an agnostic, I approach religion primarily as a human creative/intellectual product (which allows me access to any positive universally human elements contained in religions while shielding me from superstition, tribal mania & other "down sides" of religion). And the dissemination of religion, the work being performed by religious organizations, as possibly interesting & useful (to base other organizations/work on) examples of how humans organize to carry out certain tasks, to help themselves, in many cases.

Let's take a look at 2 religions; Christianity and Buddhism, from the perspective of analyzing success or failure of these two organizations (very broadly speaking) on Earth. And to see if there are any ideas that are useful to indie filmmakers in the story of those two organizations.

Christianity is said to be a little over 2000 years old. Buddhism over 2500 years old. By any current/modern day standard of durability of an organization; a company, a nation, etc., these two are massive successes.

Christianity reshaped Europe, and then was itself reshaped by the Enlightenment. Buddhism reshaped Asia, and was itself reshaped by European colonization & competition.

Both organizations (again, very loosely speaking) offer ways with which for their audience (to use an entertainment industry term) to deal with existence. On a smaller scale, movies perform a very limited degree of the same function (often offers escapism, sometimes offers hope, sometimes useful instructions, and sometimes community & support for various projects).

What were the big corporate and intellectual competition for these two organizations, in the beginning? I guess you could say the Roman Empire for Christianity, and Hinduism for Buddhism. Though their competitors at time of inception were wealthier, better organized, & more powerful, both Christianity and Buddhism - 2000 to 2500 years later - have out survived and have achieved far more than the Romans or Hinduism of long ago (this one is a little bit difficult to see; but Buddhism led to a reform in Hinduism, and at present Hinduism is largely confined to India, while Buddhism is an international religion; also is relevant to a lot of "secular" life in Asia). How was this possible?

There are many answers to that question, but two that are worth looking at, from the perspective of an indie filmmaker, are: 1. universality/ease of access - it was relatively easy - after a while - for anyone to buy into/become a part of the two religions mentioned; far more easier than becoming a Roman to a useful degree or battling with the caste system and other limitations/barriers in Hinduism, and 2. focus on the need of the audience/being able to adapt relatively quickly to the need of the audience/missions of service.

As indie filmmakers compete with Hollywood for audiences, it may be useful to analyze how low cost, service oriented intellectual & emotional products such as religions (in this case Christianity and Buddhism) became, ultimately, far more successful than their bigger & wealthier competition at the time.

Indie filmmaking is very accessible for filmmakers, we should look at our films and see if they are also accessible for people who share our space & time with us; perhaps, even if we are generally focused on niche stories & story telling, ever so often we could make more accessible movies in order to bring in new customers/audiences to better support our on-going filmmaking & distribution practices.

Also, one of the key elements that have lead, in my view, to the success of Christianity & Buddhism in this world is their focus on service. Are there ways that individuals & organizations with the ability to make & distribute movies - indie filmmakers of the present basically - can be more useful to the community/people who live near where we each live (or for that matter, anywhere in the world - since our reach is long now due to the web)? Assisting people is a great way for them to learn about, and hopefully get a positive impression of, your organization, or you, and maybe ultimately your movies.

Religion is magic, and cinema is also magic. The fact that religious organizations (again, outfits that disseminate ultimately an intellectual & emotional product/experience, much like movies) started by relatively poor but committed people have achieved vast successes on Earth may be a source of inspiration and hope for indie filmmakers who compete against much wealthier & powerful rivals.

- Sujewa

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