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Technology Good News & Bad News for Indie Films

by Jeff Steele

Blue dude from AvatarThere’s good news and bad news about technology for independent filmmakers. The good news is that continued improvements have led to what Michael Cioni, co-founder of Light Iron Digital in Culver City and a panelist at the recent Whitewater Roundtable, called a “democratization of technology.” Now, it costs very little to make a film; anyone can make a movie with a low-price camera and a laptop. But the bad news is, independent films are competing for distribution and exhibition screens with big budget studio movies – and those movies are benefiting from some pretty nifty technology, too.

A recent article in The Economist takes a look at how an increase in film exhibition profits can actually hurt indie filmmakers. That’s because a lot of those additional audience dollars are being spent to see 3-D films – technology that’s not only out of reach but probably of little interest to independent producers (at least until it becomes available as part of Adobe Creative Suite 6).

With Avatar and Alice in Wonderland (especially in IMAX), exhibitors broke out a new practice we can expect from now on: charging a premium for admission. “We still don’t know how much they are willing to pay,” David Passman, chief executive of Carmike, told the Economist.

Right now the attention is on 3-D and IMAX, but is there still room at the multiplex for the personal storytelling and character-driven drama of indie film?

I say yes. A price differential for admission to certain films could have a possible benefit for indie producers.

As the article in The Economist points out:

“Cinema-owners have long suspected that, by charging the same amount to see a $2m independent film and a $200m blockbuster, they were leaving money on the table. The response to 3-D films and IMAX proves that they were. Cinema is evolving from a commodity into a business that sells differentiated products at varied prices.”

You might have experienced “luxury” or 21-and-over screenings in your neighborhood – we have lots of those options in mine – and these innovations, along with an increase in the number of multiplexes around the world – could provide additional opportunities for more “grown up” fare. No one is rushing to make low-budget indie films in 3-D? Fine, but will anyone pay extra to see Despicable Me in an elegant screening room with a glass of good wine?

If you’re on a budget (which almost everybody is these days), then lower-priced indies and dramas may be a great catch-all for independent distributors and specialty exhibitors.

The second technology change the Economist cites could also be a boon to big and small films, and that’s “the digitisation of cinema.” Digital projectors make it “easier for multiplex owners to shuffle films around screens to cope with surges in demand.” Indie producers: this is where your rabid following on YouTube and your ability to martial the forces of the Twitterverse could really help your movie.  Exhibitors want to make money, and, usually, they can demand a bigger share of the box office split from indies than they can from studio films.  If a film has a strong turnout in a few key markets, why wouldn’t exhibitors want to extend a run or even open on additional screens in other cities?

Indie producers, what do you think? Is it time for independent filmmakers to abandon the theater and let the big budget special effects movies have all the screens? Is there still room for more than one kind of movie?

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  • Cotty Chubb

    It’s always on-the-one-hand and on-the-other. Yes, theatrical exhibition is irreplaceable, even for 2D, because what distinguishes movies is the communal experience, so anything that makes that more possible — and digital distribution definitely makes that more viable than shipping film cans — is valuable to producers like me. And right-pricing is an emerging key, so variable ticket prices will also be a boon.

    But suddenly we have a market with no technical barrier to entry. That’s not great for the the producer. Infinite availability of titles will glut screens, cut playdates and drive licensing revenue down. Oh dear.

    I’ll take some comfort that there’s still a barrier to success. Talent. And that it’s one of the many jobs of the producer to find talented people, enable their work, and identify the audience that will be gratified by it, gratified enough to see the work not on a piece of wall furnishing in the living room but on a screen at least twice as tall as a man and in the dark with others, breathing, weeping, laughing, screaming, together.

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  • Scott Hillman

    As an independent filmmaker, yes i am waiting for good 3D cameras to come down in price-probabbly a year or two before something like a RED will have two lens on it. I have some ideas-in someways it actually is very suited to drama and other genres-its a trick of course, but so is deep focus or color for that matter and see what a lot of directors have done with that.

    I tend to think theaters might go more arthouse. People who go to independent theaters tend to be wealthier. They also probabbly go to the movies more often so you can build a customer relations.

    But A lot of theaters in big devolopments(malls etc) are owned by the devolopers, as a loss leader-get people to come to the restraunt-and if you can get a wealther person the richer the rent. To take your example-would someone going to despicable me go to a 100.00 meal afterwards, 10 year old in toe?

    Its not suprising that some very nice real estate devolopments have art houses in them-which is something if i would consider as a tennant. As the middle class dries up(pause for irony) going upscale maybe one of the best bets for real estate investors.

    One area of digital distribution is that all theater costs will go down-expensive projectionists as we know it are probabbly a thing of the past(which is a shame). Once you have amoritized the cost of the projectors, and atm tickettackers-what real costs do you have?

    It simply becomes an issue of what are you going to do with the real estate. Theres a lot of empty buildings out there. if you have a theater or a theater like space, You can see it wait for a barnes and noble thats competing with online, a grocery store with walmart, or other sectors of the economy that aren’t doing so good.
    Or you could have an art house theater

    People want to go to the movies. In someways i think theaters are the future for indies. What might be in trouble are 20 million rom coms. Botom and the top fine i think. The Middle i could see getting tricky.

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    • Scott

      This weekend ‘Just Wright’ opened. It staring Queen Latifah and Common. its a pretty good if standard rommantic comedy, With some Nice Touches-not a great movie, but decent-deceny of human spirit in fact its main theme.

      It made $8,866,832 on 1,831 Screens-not bad. It opened in Forth Place after Robin Hood and Iron Man(two big blockbusters) and Letters To Juliet(another rommantic comedy though with a higher profile).

      The budget wasn’t realised but i am going to guess it was around 20 Million. Its probabbly going to make that back, though probabbly not in theaters. But With DVDs, Foreign and cable it *probabbly* will make a proffit.

      The Reason i bring this up, is that This kind of movie I think is going to be most hurt by this progress.

      This movie was never intended to be 1 at the box office.and shows it it doesn’t have the kind of budget or ambition. It was clearly intended as counter to the early summer blockbusters to fill up theaters. The kind of theaters that don’t show art house stuff.

      Now if theaters make a big proffit off iron man could transfer capacity to another film playin with a drop of a button this is the kind of movie that they would probabbly go. I suspect its going to loose at least a third of its theaters next week-soon they can do that faster. If you have 3 theaters 1 with very proffitable blockbuster A, one blockbuster b(which is medium proffitable or this which are you going to cut?

      As the precived value between blockbuster and others, its not just the absulute bottom. You pay the same price to see a 100 million movie and a 10,000 dollar movie true-but also a 10 million dolar one. The ratio is still pretty bad.

      Movies like this are usually proffitable, and rarely duds-there considered low risk, low rewards. I could see that shrinking to the point these kind of safe movies-become risks. Fox put this out, but big indie productions can be of the same conception.

      These are the kind of movies at risk I think.

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      • Cotty Chubb

        For what it’s worth, my fairly confident guess is the budget was between 40% and 60% of your estimate.

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        • Scott

          Maybe. It certainly could have been made for 12-8 million(though it has a fair amount of basketball stadium shots can be tricky to film with the extras). I am not going to argue that too much.

          Still given a theaters cut I doubt it will be make back its money with a theatrical release.

          And a larger point its the 40-10 million movies that i think are going to have problems going forward.

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  • http://www.chrisnunes.com Chris Nunes

    It feels like the theater experience is 1) diminishing in cultural importance, 2) becoming a relatively more expensive entertainment option in today’s marketplace, and 3) in light of the recent FCC approval allowing studios to remotely switch off DVR’s and offer day-and-date VOD release, soon to be a less crucial channel for monetization and a less important marketing vehicle for future sales in other formats. Without the theater experience helping to drive physical sales of DVD/blu-ray, the interesting practice of “librarying” films will likely become less meaningful, and most sales will move to a VOD model, or pay-to-play. This will happen for studio and indie projects alike. So I say that indie filmmakers should be concentrating more on the “replay” elements of their films – how the stories impact our daily lives, how their cinematography could become important examples for future films, how the performances evoke emotion, how the dialog can become ingrained in culture. Other than the cinematography, the important elements for indie filmmakers seem to be the qualia of the film, and not technology driven anyway. Which, overall, will improve the film business in its entirety. So I say let the studios have their tentpole exhibitions while they can. Meanwhile, long-tail economics will begin to turn rewards for excellent indie filmmakers through other channels. At that point, search engines, recommendation engines, and push marketing will replace mass marketing as the primary methods of discovery of excellent programs.

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    • Jeff Steele

      Long Tail revenue is certainly attractive in spirit, but it has little appeal to an investor’s IRR (internal rate of return), which is another way of saying their time-cost of money. The speed at which a producer can return cash to her investor is almost as important as the amount of cash being returned. The longer it takes, the less value it has. This is the attraction of the box office numbers in the fundraising process (misguided though it may be.)

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      • http://www.chrisnunes.com Chris Nunes

        Understood and agreed. However, 1) the VOD revenues will take over for the theater grosses to (hopefully) bring at least parity to the cashflow question – remember, now that 50% exhibitor deduction will be back on the table for the producer/VOD company to hash out (and let’s not forget that Time Warner’s, or any other delivery platform owner, move into content creation will place them into new “studio”/funder territory – i.e. a new investor paradigm with a different evaluation and horizon for IRR), and 2) “long tail” is just another way of saying that indie producers will have to become better at matching their budgets with placement on the tail. And regardless of IRR concerns, indie film producers will still need to find investors willing to place money into quality passion projects that will (presumably) become bigger catalog components through their extended long tail pay-to-play.

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      • http://www.FilmSpecific.com stacey Parks

        Jeff, this is SUCH a great point about IRR that of course no one wants to talk about when presenting plans for the long tail revenue. Cash flow is king (and so are opportunity costs) – so I agree that Producers need to think about how fast they can return money to their investors and communicate this effectively – otherwise, what’s the incentive for an investor to get involved in the project?

        Stacey

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        • http://www.biracy.com Phil Botana

          Stacey,

          Although IRR is probably a whole topic on its own, I am glad you have kept the discussion alive here.

          No investor will take a filmmaker seriously if they cannot get an IRR that is equal to or better than that of similar risk adjusted investments.

          This is why no-one reads the marketing portion of a movie investment prospectus. You can tell someone all they want about the box office receipts of “The Brothers McMullen”, “Cabin Fever”, “Paranormal Activity” or “The Blair Witch Project”. It has no bearing on the investment they are considering.

          On the other hand, if you can tell them that you have a North Am. MG payable upon delivery for 75% of the budget; and that delivery will be 12 months from first draw-down; and that tax incentives in the amount of 30% are also payable in 12 months; and that foreign sales can be sold on a cash-and-carry basis at AFM with a low estimate of 30% of budget within 18 months, you just might get them to invest.

          This also works when looking at borrowing money from a bank. You have to consider TIME in all financial analysis. That is where artists fail most of the time. The underestimate how long a project will take to complete as well as how long it will take before they recoup or generate a profit.

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      • http://www.jbmovies.com John W. Bosley

        Jeff,

        I remember a video on youtube of a conference where an entertainment lawyer was saying the longtail was basically worthless now. DVD, VOD, etc isn’t making any real money. At this point you need to make your money on box office and not expect much from anything else. With that in mind a producer either needs to keep cost low enough to make a profit or figure out a way to draw the biggest crowd possible to recoup. It’s basically the only two ways to look at it now. Which brings the question of whether A-list talent is worth the price tag or whether it is just best to keep cost low, hire great but affordable talent instead. Many articles have been written lately in the last year stating that A-list talent isn’t drawing the box office numbers they used to.

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  • Pingback: Technology Equals Good News & Bad News for Indie Films

  • http://www.norestrictionsent.com John Paul Rice

    For indie filmmakers, the theater is not dead nor should it be abandoned. Theaters like The Toronto Underground Cinema are emerging.

    http://torontoist.com/2010/04/toronto_underground_cinema_rises_up.php

    More importantly, theaters like the Underground Cinema cater to indie films and are marketed toward indie film minded audiences, whereas films in AMC Independent’s rotation, (although admirable for offering indie filmmakers the opportunity to four-wall in up to 60 theaters across the country), compete directly with studio marketed films and big budget minded audiences at the same venue.

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    • http://www.biracy.com david geertz

      Nice Comment JP! Thanks for that link too!

      Congrats again on your recent theatrical deal.

      david

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  • http://AFatherAndSon.com Michael Barnard

    The fact that the exhibition industry is one of the few that can demonstrate a healthy experience with the public is a good indication that the theater experience is not dying. It seems it’s indeed a latent desire, since it’s common to hear people bitching about the cost of the movies and bitching about the 3-D experience, but at this point in time I think it is wise for indie filmmakers to ignore the loud and pay attention to the quiet: the evidence that people will pay a premium to enjoy a movie in a theater.

    Maybe that will change as the millenials come up in force with some new cultural touchstone, but the movie experience has ruled every generation since its inception.

    My concern is basic MARKETING: perceived value. The fluctuation in pricing is valid when it goes UP, as a premium. We do not want it to go down. That will destroy perceived value. As proof, the DVD kiosks are helping push down the DVD market. They have now established the perceived value of a DVD rental as $1. If you want a horrifying experience, go the the 99c Only store in your neighborhood, where you expect, what? Cheap crap items AND THERE IS A BLOCKBUSTER DVD KIOSK IN THE STORE NOW.

    Preserve the perceived value of movies. Instead of playing with lowering the prices, the indie filmmaker can seize upon one of the greatest marketing tools available: rebates, coupons, and AFFINITY CLUBS. Since indie filmmakers must develop a core following anyway, I urge us to always think in terms of offering benefits to our core audience–rebates–rather than lower the ticket price at the box office.

    Use coupons. Use rebates. Build reward programs just like your supermarket does.

    Seize this opportunity to grow your own loyal audience.

    Do not squander this change in the paradigm by devaluing the experience at the box office level.

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  • Andy Halmay

    The vulnerability of the independent is not in content. The right idea properly developed for pennies will often beat the flat footed idea idiotically developed with zillions in the budget. The indie sucks the hind teat (to use my country b.g.) in marketing, promotion, distribution because indies don’t have the funds here and their distributors are seldom in much better shape.

    To compete, the indie needs to develop projects with built-in elements that automatically beget free press which more often than not can lead to greater box office results than heavy ad investment in measured media. The David and Goliath story will be valid forever. When you get it right it’s good news. When you don’t, it’s bad news.

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  • http://www.biracy.com david geertz

    A theatrical release is merely a gathering of people in a darkened room to enjoy a film on a “larger” screen than they have in their homes.

    Indies should stop moaning about the fact that billion dollar corporations who pay a hefty fee to have the real estate license on those giant screens, get most of the access to those same screens.

    There are lots of other ways to present your film to your audience (if you have one) without bitching about the big 7 taking up all the available screens.

    Go rent a hall or rent a projector and play it on the side of a building. If that goes well I’m sure that you won’t have to worry about your next film as I’m sure you too will be gobbled up by the machine and be forced to make fare for the masses….dear god!

    Stop worrying about the venue and you can have a great night with your fans. The popcorn will be better too!

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    • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

      Agreed.

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    • Scott

      Its not the large screen they go for.

      Movies are entertainment-we want to experience it-its not a store or a lawyer. As part of that we want to experience it as a social experience. Its human nature-we like to share, we like to be in groups doing things we like. We can feed off there emotional responses.

      When we go to a theater, in part of it is we go for the crowds.

      This is why the microwave hasn’t killed restraunts. If Variation of Television where going to kill theater it would be dead long ago.

      This is one of the reasons i think we have the concept of the opening weekend. You want to go to a movie? Its in the theater for at least a month more. But we know on that friday night, that if we go it will be an EVEN BIGGER CROWD. A packed theater is a hella of a thing.

      Empty theater not so much-if you missed your chance why pay to watch a movie with 5 other people? Theoretically there isn’t a reason why movie showings couldn’t be evenly populated. But we go.

      Generally speaking indies do pretty well per screening-fewer number,it fills up. I would argue that this is partly becuse we know the audience will come out- that if we have any perception of a crowd comming together we would gravitate towards it. Partly of course-you can’t show em a test patern-but the perception that we can be a happy Intelegent crowd of good looking people(which indies can produce)

      This is then part of marketing-marketing that your film is sucesfull and it can bring em out. If you do it, you can deliver on your promise.

      This is a great place for new technology.

      Facebook, Twitter, those parinomal activity open letters-all of these things can help-but i for see that we can make this technology even more sophisticated, advertising not just movies but even individual screenings are doing well.

      This isn’t renting a theater-its getting a solid campaign, to maxamize comerical revenue. I am not entire sure how but this might be the future.

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  • http://www.biracy.com Phil Botana

    Several things are at play.

    1. Screens and screening times equal shelf space. If an indie film can guarantee an audience to an exhibitor at 11am or 12midnight, then yes, the indie filmmaker can succeed theatrically. Technology can make this possible.

    2. There is infinite shelf space on the internet and plenty of shelf space elsewhere. If you don’t have to pay out huge ad dollars and give half or more of box office to an exhibitor, then what does the venue matter? Like Dave says, if you can get the audience to a parking lot and screen your film profitably on the wall of a building than you have succeeded. The rise of experiential design and immersive design create fantastic opportunities for indie filmmakers who can think outside the box.

    3. The only reason for a 2 hour movie is to accommodate screen schedules and advertising on TV. The indie producer who makes a 42 minute film that generates a higher ROI in relation to cost per minute has no need to compete with major theatrical releases. In fact, that would be comparing apples to oranges.

    4. And lets not forget crowdfunded projects. If a film is funded 100% by its fans, the ROI is infinite as there is no amount to be recouped. You can go to a theater chain and tell them they can keep 100% of box office in exchange for a wide release if you think that will help you in other ways whether financially (trigger a valuable TV sale or improve your VOD deal or boost digital download sales) or otherwise (raise money for a cause or get a message out).

    3D is a nice new app for the theaters and the studios which will only buy them time temporarily. The next frontier is augmented reality and holograms.

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  • David

    Keep this in mind in any discussion: When a movie, any movie, indie or studio, 3D or 2D, hits a theatre, that theatre takes an admission from each and every set of eyeballs. No other distribution venue can do this. VOD, DVD, cable, free TV, whatever, is a flat charge for however many people can sit around your TV set.
    Obviously there’s a P&A question to consider, whether the outlay of marketing money comes back to you and gives you a positive ROI. But if you have a chance at theatrical, and the P&A is doable, you really have to take it. Not only is it still the imprimatur in downstream markets for whether something is worth the rental or not, but it offers a way to exploit each set of eyeballs and the chance to sell them popcorn. When distributors seduce you with VOD they’re selling you short because they’re taking what they can in returns with little output in marketing dollars (no P&A). They don’t care if you cram 50 of your buddies in your media room to watch the film. But you should. Again, this is only if you have a chance for theatrical in terms of quality. What this ultimately means for the indie producer is this: is your product really able to command a per person premium in the marketplace? Is it different or unique enough, was it made by a Holofcener or Garcia, or does it offer a cast member and/or story so unique that it can lure people into a theatre? Distributors live on the carrion of producers who guess wrong on that question.

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  • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

    Jeff, you asked, “Indie producers, what do you think? Is it time for independent filmmakers to abandon the theater and let the big budget special effects movies have all the screens? Is there still room for more than one kind of movie?”

    I argue, no. And, yes.

    What I believe will become an indie producer’s dream is a steady increase of multiplex, digital cinema-driven entertainment venues. The more cinemas equipped to show features in a digital format, the better off independents will become.

    Think about this. A super-wide release today for a major tent-pole feature is north of 4,000 screens. For the sake of argument, let’s say America has doubled their screens in a year. So, do the majors release features in 8,000 plus screens? Think of the P&A (prints being film or digital) they would have to spend. “Avatar” numbers would ‘have’ to become common place. So, I think there has to be a point where returns diminish, with respect to opening a feature in wide release.

    What are the theater owners going to do with all those empty chairs, screens and soda cups?

    The movie going audience craves entertainment in all genres played-out today. The majors will have to focus (due to corporate presses of economies of scale) on massive production budgets, massive advertising pushes and massive purchases of heartburn medication.

    With the majors pushing the niche/indie divisions off their balance sheets, who will fill that void the audiences crave? For my answer, I chose the indies.

    I was fortunate enough to design and engineer the world’s first THX-certified digital cinema with a great cast of cutting-edge engineers and visionaries (in a past life). I was originally a film guy. The digital transformation was an epiphany for me (thinking as an aspiring producer all those years ago).

    The playing field is leveled on the Internet/new media between indies and majors.

    The cinemas only equality for indies must be more screens.

    Just my thoughts. But,…

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  • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

    Oh, and my opinion on 3D cinema?

    Showscan was/is the only format which truly encompassed the third dimension in the viewers mind. Oh, and without glasses.

    The cheaper technologies won that battle.

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  • http://www.mariomuller.com Mario Muller

    It seems to me that we are in a period that the entire model of distribution has been upended. There are so many outlets, delivery mechanisms and paradigms that are being redefined that an indie distributor has to think outside of the box.
    The challenge, I maintain, is to create a platform that caters to the audience for indie based fare and may actually be counter productive to large tent pole fare.
    All this whining about not being able to compete with the studios or 3-d is off the point.
    Walt Whitman, America’s first self publisher, printed 750 copies of Leaves of Grass and sold merely 2 in the first two years.

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  • http://pangofilms.wordpress.com Michael Walker

    Anyone can make a movie, but not anyone can make a good movie. Just because you have an expensive HD camera, doesn’t mean your movie is going to look expensive. Novelists have faced the competition from everyone who can put a pen to paper, but it’s the writers who know what they are doing that succeed.

    DVDs sell at 50% the rate they sold a few years ago because half of the stores that sold them went out of business.

    So the only way to make money is to get some theater play.

    Pricing films differently isn’t the worst idea except how do you price them? With 3-D, you are getting something tangible for the extra money. Without it, what are you paying for, the budget? The quality? More for high-brow, less for low-brow? How about the filmmakers set the price?

    The real trouble with getting any films into theaters is the defacto monopoly that the studios have on exhibition because of their need to open films on 4000 screens and with 60 million dollar marketing budgets. When one film takes up 1/4 of the screens, there’s not much room for anyone else.

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    • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

      “Anyone can make a movie, but not anyone can make a good movie. Just because you have an expensive HD camera, doesn’t mean your movie is going to look expensive.”

      Amen.

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  • BenL

    Indies will always have a place in the theater. Exhibitors are obviously revenue driven. If it makes dollars than it makes sense. My reaction (to the question of this post) is what will this mean to an indie producer? You have forces at work, one side, fancy 3D blockbusters who muscle for screens and another you have a lower cost of production. Both will pressure the indie producer. The later will encourage more indies (who may have been otherwise limited by financing in the past) to be made and put into the mix. This will work to increase the power of the distribution gatekeepers (sales agents, festivals, other venues to market and sell indies) as more films compete for limited screens.
    Coming back to the first point, good stories will compete with 3D. They always will b/c there are a multitude of audience members who will be drawn to a good story. If this is held to be true then indies will not fade from theaters.

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  • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

    From Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood:

    CANNES: Newbridge Wants to Fully Finance $15m+ Movies Going Forward

    http://www.deadline.com/2010/05/cannes-newbridge-wants-to-fully-finance-15m-movies-going-forward/

    “[Newbridge co-managing director Diane] Stidham puts on a brave face when it comes to how indie film finance has dried up. “All this pain will help make the indie film sector better,” she says. “We’re going to get movies that the market wants, which means financiers will see a stronger return.”

    How apropos to the conversation.

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    • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

      My bad. Deadline London.

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    • BenL

      @Stan, thanks for posting the link. I also noticed the opposing forces at work. A prior post discussed the threat to bank financing now technology has helped to reduce production costs. I wonder which force is greater? What the resulting equilibrium will look like?

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      • http://nompco.com Stan Gill

        @BenL, You bring up a very poignant point.

        With financial institutions, which are still in the game with regards to funding feature films, it seems the current threshold is $10m to even think about your project. Am I right, Jeff?

        Now, with that in mind and the new mantra, “$250k is the new $2.5m picture,” the current digital revolution has made it viable for indie producers to produce quality films, when it comes to production value. Story value, aside.

        Therein lies the rub. Indie producers have to go out and secure equity financing from traditional and non-traditional avenues.

        According to the above link/article, “The pre-sales market is patchy. Most distributors wait to see the finished movie.” Well, that position is counter-intuitive to the film financing business model most of us have come to know. While I understand there are numerous ways to finance a project, as a broad stroke, pre-sales seems to be the ‘old model’ if you will.

        So, where does that leave indie producers?

        It seems to me to leave us chasing equity investors for the majority of funding with less than 25% funding coming from ‘new’ models. For example, crowd-sourcing, vendor participation, etc.

        What do you think, Jeff?

        Good question Ben, “What [will] the resulting equilibrium will look like?”

        Tough. Very tough.

        And we’re not even talking about quality stories. Just getting the financing to roll the cameras.

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        • Nick Olivas

          dear Stan, take a look at the movie The beginners” it is an independent movie with a budget of 3.2 million, you know somebody must of bankrolled that movie. So the answer is no to the threshold being 10million. By the way if I was a investor I would be happier to invest 250,000 to a movie and watch it failed, then to invest in a 10 milllion dollar project and take a risk that it may not do well at the box office even though i will get paid first.

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      • Nick Olivas

        where is this post at? I did not find it? who wrote it?

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  • BenL

    Financial Times Article: Shrek 3D film fails to pull in the cash
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2c86df2c-678a-11df-a932-00144feab49a.html

    The market appears to be signaling price limits for 3D.

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  • Maureen

    Wow – Lots of good comments on Indie film.

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  • Nick Olivas

    I believe Jeff you jump around too much from one topic to the other without first finishing your thought. By the way the Economist contradicts themselves.

    For your example your first quote from the economist says “Right now the attention is on 3-D and IMAX, but is there still room at the multiplex for the personal storytelling and character-driven drama of indie film?”

    Then the you quote another from the Economist saying “The second technology change the Economist cites could also be a boon to big and small films “the digitisation of cinema.” Digital projectors make it “easier for multiplex owners to shuffle films around screens to cope with surges in demand.”

    I’m sorry but didn’t the economist was trying to convey earlier that there might not be enough room for indies cause of technology?

    Here’s another quote from the economist”“Cinema-owners have long suspected that, by charging the same amount to see a $2m independent film and a $200m blockbuster, they were leaving money on the table. The response to 3-D films and IMAX proves that they were. Cinema is evolving from a commodity into a business that sells differentiated products at varied prices.”

    Cinemas make money on the snacks not the film. Most of them get their movies from a distrubitor, they rent them for like a $1. I know this cause I had a friend recently work for AMC theaters in Los Angeles. Indpendent movie theaters may own a copy of the film and also take a big share in the profits, that you are correct on.

    I think whoever wrote this article in the economist does not know what the hell their talking about. As far as your blog is concerned I encourage you to not jump around so much when discussing the many facets of the issue, your writing sounds like a second year college student, who does not know the rules of grammar.

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    • Jeff Steele

      The perk of having a blog is not having an editorial committee. The downside is, when I’m pressed for time, I need an editorial committee.

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  • Nick Olivas

    Furthermore the article was missing the point just because there are 3-d movies out there does not mean that their is no room for other movies that aren’t in 3-D . There still are comedies for example that people prefer to see in regular theater and not in 3-d or imax. Big studio movies like the hangover, Meet the Fockers, No strings attached, and love and other drugs.

    As far as Independment movies in large chain theaters is concern. There still is times of the year where independent films make their moment, and those times are fall and spring. Cause statistics have shown more people go to the theater during summer and winter breaks therefore the comedies run during the summer and winter months, and the action movies run during the summer months leaving the fall and spring seasons available for independent movie screenings.

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    • Jeff Steele

      Traditionally yes. But spring and fall are becoming congested, as well.

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