labingi: (Default)
Heartfelt thanks to my BFF, Melanie Powers, for her donation of football helmets to my sci-fi film, The Eater. Package received! Moreover, she's paying postage as a donation to the film. Melanie, you're awesome!

This is one of the things I love about microbudget filmmaking. People pull together to accomplish an immensely complex project out of resources something like 0.1% of what Hollywood would say you need to raise to make a movie. Now, do microbudgets look like Hollywood movies? No. Even those produced by professionals with exquisitely honed talent and rigorous production standards (I do not count myself in this group, by the way) will show the signs of extreme cheapness: fewer/poor effects, lower-grade sound, less diversity in camera angles, cheap costumes, more continuity glitches the crew couldn't afford to correct, etc.

But it's possible to make exceptional art on a shoestring. Consider Shakespeare at the Globe: actors on an empty stage. Yes, movies are a different medium, but the same basic rule applies: great actors and a great script can generate great art. With a little help from your friends, there's nothing stopping you.

What this doesn't generate is a sustainable economic model. Shakespeare's contemporaries had theater goers to buy tickets. Most microbudgets, even well received at festivals, will not get regular distribution or make much money in theaters; DVD sales are a thing of the past; and streaming or online sales brings in a pittance per view or copy sold.

And so we have a cycle of poverty, often with the poor supporting the poor. My friend, Melanie, isn't rolling in cash, which makes her contribution all the more noteworthy. I'm not rolling in cash either, which hamstrings my desire to increase the budget I contribute from my savings to pay people respectably for their work. And so people end up donating a lot of time and resources. I love them for it, but they're not making a living this way anymore than I am.

It's never been easy to be a working artist, but I generally agree with Jaron Lanier in You Are Not a Gadget that our current model of internet culture has made things harder. Or to be more fair, it's made production easier; it's made making money harder. Consumers--myself included--just aren't willing to pay much for digital copies, and with so many projects being produced, even most good ones get lost in the noise.

I don't have a ready solution. But I know this: people won't stop making art. Indie, low-budget filmmaking won't stop. Most of it will be bad quality, but some of it will be as brilliant as anything from professional studios. And this will continue to be the work of people coming together out of love of art and in friendship with each other to do it because it's worth doing.
labingi: (Default)
I had my second adventure in Haitian cooking with my fellow parent-adopting-from-Haiti and neighbor, M. We had pretty good luck a couple of weeks ago making rice balls and this week made potato and beet salad, which also turned out well. I would never do such involved cooking on my own, but it's a great chance to get together and talk.

Earlier in the day, I was a grip on a film shoot for a sitcom pilot by Ariel Castle and Maurice Welch. It was fun to be out in the world of film production again. It makes me look forward to production on The Eater.


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