The history of independent film making paints a clear picture that the entrepreneur and the independent film maker were consistently left out in the cold. Those struggling in that world today, especially such as have studied that history know that system was closed to them from the very start and that the masterminds of the system set it up that way. Even those who get a foot in the door find glass ceilings on every level. That all began to change in the last decade however. Today, we, as independents, must be aware that we are responsible for changing things and that the tools available to us now leave no room for excuses.
The web can be our home and opportunities here are without end and limited only by imagination. In 1908, master inventor Thomas Edison teamed with Kodak founder Charles Eastman and other media giants of the era to form the Motion Picture Patents Company. The idea here was to prevent anyone else from making and distributing movies without paying hefty fees to them.
This is not unlike trying to get a game made on the Sony Playstation today. Independents couldn't even buy film from Kodak. This setup led to a few large studios controlling the production, distribution and even exhibition of motion pictures, a system which has never been successfully challenged.
How different are things today? Only very recently have things in the independent film making world and the world of animation really opened up. To this very day you cannot go out and buy a Panavision camera and own the means of production. Before widespread use of computer technology, and affordable software like Adobe's Flash or E-Frontier's Anime Studio, how much did it cost to even think about making your own animation? It wasn't enough to know how to draw anime, you needed expensive equipment just to realize it on paper, to say nothing of shooting it to film.
Today you can make your own anime or independent film, with a Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack and master it DVD or ready it for output to film all from your desktop. Of course, even after getting to that point, in order to get it seen, people have to know it exists. That's still one aspect of the puzzle the major studios have a handle on.
Or do they? In the old days, studios produced big films and those films were taken to the people via distributors who handled all the promotion and marketing and took the lion's share of the profits. This hasn't really changed. In fact, it's gotten worse, as many of these distributors have merged with the studios. Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney and many others have their own distribution and if you want to get in, you have to pay to play. Even an animation powerhouse like Pixar needed Disney to get their movies seen. Studio Ghibli, and the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, thought the same thing.
We know from the recent Pixar/Disney clashes before the merger, that Disney ended up owning all of Pixar's characters and creations and took the largest percentage of the profits. This is the price of entry into their world. Yet so many independent film makers still want to walk right in it. If you truly want to get your independent film seen, or make your own anime and have total creative control, consider finding your audience the same way you make your movie; On the desktop. YouTube phenomenon LonelyGirl15 shows that finding a large audience entirely in the wired is not only feasible but potentially profitable. It's almost 2007.
Are we going to let a system set up in 1908 keep us from realizing dreams?.
Terrence Walker is an independent film maker, animator and online entrepreneur who helps other creatives realize their vision of getting their projects done. To find out more information, visit: http://www.studioartfx.com