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Should we create a new D.I.Y. filmmakers co-op in NYC?

I know of several (at least 4 off the top of my head, myself included) filmmakers who live in NYC, have day jobs, and are planning on or are actively working on shooting & or releasing new features this year.

Perhaps people in this situation - filmmakers who are working outside of Hollywood methods (financing from studios, budgets in the millions, using guild labor, etc.) or indiewood methods (smaller version of Hollywood methods) should think about forming an association - a coorperative or a co-op - where labor & resources (including money) can be exchanged in order for each member of the co-op to be able to make & distribute his/her features.

This is how this NYC DIY filmmaker co-op could work:

- Let's say there are four members in the co-op - all writer/videographer/director/editiors who also blog and have some experience with self-distribution and are capable of filling in for any production or distribution role on an ultra-low budget DV feature.

- Let's say I need a sound recordist for my feature shoot in March. Co-op member X can put in 40 hours in March recording sound for me. Let's say I can pay $500 for her services. We come to an agreement on an hourly rate for her sound recording services - let's say $20 an hour. Let's say the film requires 30 hours of sound recording work - so, that would be $600 worth of work. So, me & Member X agree that I would pay her $500 for the work, & that I would owe her $100 worth of work on her project (or I can pay her cash for that if, by the end of the year or some agreed upon point in time, I have not put in $100 worth of work on her project).

- Then let's say Member X needs to promote the DIY screening of her feature in the fall. Let's say 300 media outlets need to be contacted. I owe Member X $100 worth of work, we set my hourly rate at $20, and then I spend 5 hours contacting media outlets & helping Member X publicize her screening.

So on and so fourth.

The four members in this hypothetical co-op will have four times the resources for DIY production & distribution than just any one member of the organization - and that is a major difference in the amount of resources & talent & skills available.

If any NYC based DIY filmmakers (not filmmakers whose career plan includes just being rescued by indiewood or Hollywood - or not people who are solely gambling on indiewood or Hollywood, but artists who already have or are deeply interested in making & distributing their own movies themselves, regardless of whether they end up collaborating with indiewood or Hollywood on some projects in the future) are interested in exploring the idea of a co-op further, get in touch (

We could try it out for a year, & if the experiment is a horrible failure, we could go our separate ways. On the other hand, if the experiment is even a mild success, then we would have a much better way to make & distribute movies than just all of us working alone.

Also, the need for a lot of funds, gear, crew, and possibly even actors would be greatly reduced (or, for some projects, may disappear entirely for some categories of need) if a filmmaker is a member of a healthy & well-functioning co-op. Meaning, if you are a part of a co-op, making movies would be far easier for you.

Here's part of a definition of a cooperative or a co-op, from Wikipedia:

"A cooperative (also co-operative or coöperative; often referred to as a co-op or coop) is defined by the International Co-operative Alliance's Statement on the Co-operative Identity as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise[1]. It is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.[2] A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or who work at it."

Read more about the concept at Wikipedia. And get in touch if you want to try to start a new DIY filmmaker/self-distributor co-op in NYC.

- Sujewa


mao365 said…
Sujewa, this is a terrific idea.

Once I am settled back in NYC, I will definitely follow up on this with you.

You have very good ideas. Thank you.
Julio said…
Hi Sujewa,

It seems like an interesting idea. have you checked other similar/related organizations such as

Maybe they can provide information and interested parties.

The Sujewa said…
Hey Julio,

Thanks for the link, will check 'em out.

Yeah, it's a good idea to see who else is or has been doing something similar in nyc.

- sujewa
The Sujewa said…
Hey Yongsoo (mao365),

Thanks for the positive words. Yeah, when u r back in nyc we'll have to look at this idea together.

But, in the meantime, since we are both on the web, we can still do some of the work necessary (like getting the word out to filmmakers about the co-op possibility).

Talk to you soon.

- Sujewa
Eric Escobar said…
Hey Sujewa,

This is similar to what me and four of my friends have done in San Francisco, CA. We formed the Kollective at Kontent Films. The extra dimension for us is that we also do directing-for-hire gigs in the SF ad community. We just started our third year and have managed to balance making a living while still making a life. You can see what we do at

The Sujewa said…
Thanks for the info. Eric, will explore.
Arin Crumley said…
This is exactly what I've been dreaming about for almost a year.

Check out an experiment called that I've started to get this kind of a thing going.
The Sujewa said…
Hey Arin,

Yeah, you told me about your idea when we talked at your birthday party in December '08. Some of the details in this very rough plan are from that conversation (people keeping track of the amount of work put in by others on their project/also on the projects of others is an idea from our conversation in Dec).

So we've got at least a handful of people interested in this concept, we should set up a live meeting of interested folks to set up a trial run of this thing.

- Sujewa
The Sujewa said…
Also, projects created through this arrangement need not be non-profit projects & their $s return model can include selling tix & DVDs of the finished film to customers.

Maybe what I am thinking of is not a co-op but a loose association of writer/directors & other filmmakers & actors who help each other out w/ getting their movies made & distributed.

- Sujewa

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