Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My sensible advice

I'll start with a bit of a correction. Jon Jost's movies are available HERE on Vimeo for $10 or $15 each.

Watched a long interview some Germans did with Jon Jost on YouTube.

It was posted a few years ago. His movies, he said, were then seen by a couple thousand people at film festivals and that was it. But I'm not sure what he was spending on them. It was reported elsewhere that he made several on digital video that cost a hundred or a hundred fifty bucks each. He shot a movie in London for a few hundred dollars including airfare. Being seen by a couple of thousand people was probably pretty good relative to the cost.

But he might try selling his DVDs for less than $30. He said on another YouTube video that he filmed scenes for some of his movies without permission in restaurants in Portland and elsewhere. You think they'd put a stack of DVDs by the cash register and sell them to customers thrilled at the possibility of seeing an arthouse film shot in that very restaurant? If you're paying fifteen bucks for lunch, what's another five dollars? Not terribly good advice, I know. That's wouldn't solve much of anything.

I saw another video on YouTube of a guy talking about self-distribution. An English guy had made a terrible action film for a few thousand dollars and was looking for a distributor. He lived in a high crime area and had some local English gang members appear in the movie. He had DVDs duplicated and packaged for $2 each and arranged to have them sold in local shops for $5 each, cheap enough to be bought on impulse and too cheap for anyone to bother bootlegging. He made over $20,000 that way. The distributor he approached told him to just keep doing what he was doing.

I never understood zero budget filmmakers charging so much for their DVDs. I suppose there must be a reason for it. I'm fascinated by extreme low budget movies, but other than those of Mike and George Kuchar, I haven't found any of them especially enjoyable. I can't see paying thirty bucks for something I very likely won't want to sit through more than once or twice.

Back in the silent era, a studio boss supposedly got into the movie business because his mother saw a movie theater and told him it was a great business because people pay before they see what they're getting. I almost never pay more than a few bucks for a DVD if it's a movie I've never seen. (I did pay around $100 for a good copy of the Soviet production of War & Peace and was quite happy with the purchase.)

Rick Schmidt was charging over $30 for his DVDs. I don't know how many he was selling. I was interested in watching them but I never saw any until they appeared on Fandor. I'm glad he's doing well, but, to be honest, I'm also glad I didn't pay $30.

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