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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old May 8th, 2002, 03:31 AM   #31
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I agree with you Joe. Althought my current sound system is not
top-notch yet (as you describe it) it will be in the future (these
things costs loads of money). I'm planning to go to one of these
specialist home theaters builders and get me a decent system.
Some speaker manufacturers also have a special center speaker
that can match the left and right and still "lay" on your TV
(if you have one)... My denon AV Receiver calculates volume
by how far the speakers are apart etc. (I can enter that into
the receiver)...
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:06 AM   #32
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Does this new system serve us and how?

As usual, this is a great topic. In some ways similar to other film vs. DV/video talks that are often a little heated and makes most take side, quickly. I thought I'd put my 2 cents in since what I do daily and what I am doing with DV is possibly a little unique to others' experiences.

I work at a home entertainment trade, during the day, and it's incredible how the home entertainment market (although it looks radically different than what most folks remember it as, small ma and pa video stores) is the main venue for small and large studios to cash in on titles (since the Spiderman and Harry Potters are few and far between). We (the trade publication I work for) even started a secondary trade that focuses on just direct to video/DVD and special edition DVD markets trade publication, just because the demand was so high and there are more and more professionals who work in the development, production, post, and marketing of titles. It's also interesting to point out that the francising and heavy branding that studios use to produce titles these days might have been influenced by the continued success they had with 'direct to video' sequels, which brought huge returns year after year for them, while more and more of their film releases failed miserably, see the Rollerball movie as an example.

I think Variety (4 months ago or so) posted some numbers showing how theaters don't have a steady large profit growth year to year (maybe also due to the fact of canibalization from multiplexes and hightened ticket sales, currently the new Arclight Theaters here in LA charge $14 per ticket), where as home video markets do have a constant growth year after year (all the while VHS and DVD prices have gotten lower and lower (before DVD, VHS titles had two pricing levels, one for the first few months, then they were lowered for sell thru, like DVD now is right from their release which is still less than $20). So it would make sense to me that theaters would be reluctant to buy new systems to show films. The reason I am mentioning this is because I think Chris' comments about the communal movie viewing experience in theaters is beautiful but in some ways utopian, and far from the reason people pay money to go to theaters to see movies these days (economically when you look at the costs of tickets and demographic studies on consumers who attend, it's not very democratic at all).

Most of what we see in theaters (I feel) is highly controlled by MBA-sters' projections on Studio spreadsheets and an embarrassing MPAA film censorship system that prides itself on making all movies aiming at allowing >18 year olds in at any cost. We still have a large majority of theaters here in LA that will not show NC-17 and unrated films, and a good dozen magazines and newspapers that will not run ads for NC-17 or either (un)rated films.

New digital cinemas sound great and cool, but in some ways I'm skeptical about them as well as I am about the upper classists way that (film stock) filmmaking is so expensive (and thereby limits many competent voices from producing content for distribution). Spike Lee's continual struggle with studios and distributors and his, almost broken record, speeches about representation in film and television of american black actors is not as ridiculous when looked at in these lights, at all.

I'll be shooting a feature length project later this year and my main obstacles in securing financing are all the (costs) items I'd have to deliver to a distributor, which in some ways is a larger chunk compared to our production cost (since I'm shooting on DV). This whole thing is hysterical to me because even if my film totally blows, it will cost a lot just to show on a film projector and deliver to a (potentially, if lucky) distributor. I think I'm more interested in the development of new avenues for content distribution, much of what the visionaries during the big Internet days, sought after, which was a leveling of sorts, by seeking to have more original content delivered online. I'm not surprised that they failed in these markets which are often times bitter with inflated egos and scrupulous studios and distrubtion deals.

I don't think that (at least for my self) an analysis of whether film projectors or digital projectors are equal is that worthwhile, but (as content/video/film developers/producers) rather how this serves us, if at all. Personally, I could care less if Lucas' 6th episode is screened digitally or not. Or if Soderberg's playing around with 3 free XL1s cameras will be seen digitally or not. Neither of them will lose sleep if they are screened on film or digitally. And will probably make a huge profit on video (VHS and DVD) as well as in theaters.

PS-Kodak's enthusiasm is probably due to some interest in providing new products. I wonder if it will cost as much to deliver your film (digitally projected in a theater) as it does to edit and deliver on film? That would be a slap in the face in some ways, because what excites me about DV is it's potential to deliver good pictures cheaply and cut your production time (two things which low and no budget filmmaking has as its main obstacles, closely followed, often times, by bad acting and script problems).

I hope I added something and gave a little different perspective.

Regards-
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:19 AM   #33
 
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Interesting perspective. I just read an article that 80% of american households linked to the internet are still on phone modems. YIKES!! What this means is that quality (aka hi res)streaming video is still a far, far away dream. Despite the upcoming(this summer) introduction of new streaming video technology by M$ and REAL networks, 80% of the public still can't see quality video on their computers. Until this bandwidth barrier is overcome, I think DVD and movie theater are the only way to go....and breaking the MPAA stranglehold on distribution is only a gleam in some Indie's eye.

Wouldn't it be a good thing if video were as easily exchanged as MP3?...now that's something to ponder
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:33 AM   #34
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What interesting comments these are! I admit my statements about the movie-going experience are indeed utopian, but actually back in I think the 1920's it *was* pretty much that kind of experience, where common folk could pay five cents to be treated to an afternoon in an atmospheric, regal palace theater with uniformed doormen and ushers to attend to them. Kind of like the *really full* full-service Texaco gas stations of the 1950's. A utopian vision yes, but for awhile a very real experience in this country.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:43 AM   #35
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If video was easily exchanged as mp3, we'd all be the enemy as we are when we are trading mp3 that we make from CD we bought. The FBI has confiscated some 30 computers for file sharing violations this year alone, and crack downs are still funded. There was a great article online a month or so ago whereby the writer said that having mp3 and software to trade is so bad in this country that it's treated as if you were trading child porn (the FBI also confiscates computers for accused child molesters and accussed online pedophiles). That's something, even more important to think about, because in some ways the new Millenium Copyright is unconstitutional and a hardcore control on what you see and hear and watch (and we pay for these restrictions when we buy content, literally).

I don't know that the MPAA is the Indie's problem. It seems like a copout. A political copout in some ways, which is the worst kind. I notice that a lot of times I disenfranchise myself as an American citizen by passing on civil problems to companies and politicians to deal out, for me. Even our neighbors to the north (Canada), south (South American countries), and many other countries (France, England, Italy, etc) don't have problems like these with ratings and distribution.

Todd Solondz was interviewed recently on a censorship issue with the MPAA, recently for 'Storyteling' (which in my opinon, is a magnificently very American film), saying that he knew he would have problems with the film and certain scenes only in the US, Iran , & Iraq (no where else). It gives new perspective to my mother's advice to me when I was very small, that the rest of the world sees things very differently than we see them here in America. In a very literal way, she is proven right. But in a very concrete way, the treat of the 'p' word classification (pornography) of films and videos, threatens anyone who the MPAA finds threatening. Meanwhile, we bicker about whether video can ever have an elusive film look. It's really great to have this website and be somewhat organized and connected. That is probably a massive strength.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:57 AM   #36
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reply to Chris

Chris-

Speaking of old time American ways and friendliness, I was recently back in Oregon, our neighbor to the north (from here in LA), and they still have full service gas stations. You are greeted at the driver's side and they ask you how what you would like them to pump and what you need. It always floors me. So does the fact they have no sales tax, it's like shopping online, but in person, everywhere you go. I was born in Eastern Europe and the whole 'have a nice day thing' is an American export. The checkout girl is not interested in you or your desire for eyecontact and doesn't care if you have a nice day. These, now sometime banal and overused, 'have a nice day' blessings spoken at the end of the transaction, when you shop, are truly warming to the soul from abroad. It's a very southern remanant, I hear, of 'the American way' that is still a very charming ideal to strive for.

Traveling is a great way to get a new perspective, for sure. They (Oregon) also have a whole different pricing structure at their movie theaters. You pay some 4 or 5 dollar a movie, and a max of 7 during peak times (weekend nights and Sunday matinees).

Plus, they have the cheaper theaters, nearby the regular ones, where you can see movies that have run their 8 to 12 week runs and those cost, get this, 1 dollar and 50 cents!!!! I always plan for some extra 2 to 3 days just to zone out and watch movies that I can't afford to try out at the usual 10 plus a viewing here in LA.

Best wishes to you and thanks for reading my rant.

Christian Calson
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Old May 8th, 2002, 09:14 AM   #37
 
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Hi Christian...

Thanx for your perspective. Clearly, this issue of control of the media, whether it's by a governmental censorship group or a private industry group like MPAA, is a hot button issue. I really don't intend to take sides as I agree that a free-for-all on copyrighted material is not a good thing. Still, I question the messages that production video brings us in this country. Just look at CNN broadcasts in Europe to see how different that message is than in this country. I think a free and open marketplace for video and audio products would benefit us all.

So, while I support copyright protection, I also fantasize about a distribution scenario where topic and theme is decided by the buying public, NOT by some industry group with a vested interest.

Thanx for your comments. Rest assured that I appreciate your viewpoint and that you share it with us all.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 09:22 AM   #38
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I can only say, in a reply to digital--guy, that it was a pleasant
read! I agree with you on this. The question is... Where does this
leave the indy film-maker?
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Old May 8th, 2002, 03:03 PM   #39
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I think this interview conducted by Canal+ says a whole lot about the current situation of distributing smaller films on big screens. It's an interview with George A. Romero who I think is a really under rated filmmaker. Martin and The Crazies are magnificent low budget films.

http://www.cplus.fr/cinema/emissions/qinterdit/itw_romero.html

He speaks about his film Bruiser and independent theatrical distribution. If E- or D-cinema can offer alternative distribution venues for independents then I'm all for it.
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