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Entries in Movie Rentals (3)


Show Me the MONEY! Indie Producers Making It Happen #atozchallenge #indiefilm #distribution

'THE APPLE PUSHERS,' directed by Mary Mazzio, examines such hot-button issues as food access, the obesity crisis, immigration, entrepreneurship, and what it really takes to achieve the American Dream. There is a crisis among independent filmmakers and many of us don’t even realize it. We have what I would call the starving-artist syndrome and something is definitely wrong with that picture.

We're too passive about valuing our work. At the same time, we must also be realistic about what we have and what it's worth and use this knowledge to out-work those who are making money (in the arts as well as most all other industries) while we wait on the sidelines for a fairy godmother to rescue us with distribution deals and/or a big fat check, investing in our next movie.

Camille Landau and Tiare White, filmmakers and authors of WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU AT FILM SCHOOL, suggests that there are many more ways to make money than through film. I can attest to their point because making movies has certainly cost (and continues to cost) me more money than it's brought me. Part of that is my fault. Part of that is our culture of "free" (and stealing) where everybody expects to get their entertainment without giving anything to the makers of said work. But a huge part of it is that it’s just the nature of the business -- at least where independent filmmaking is concerned. What I gain in creative freedom, I lose in fiscal capacity.

Make no mistake about this -- I still want the money, but for different reasons than I once had. Earning revenue from my work would afford me the ability to do several things:

  • To make more movies.
  • To make better movies.
  • To do work that I enjoy without having to supplement it with less-than-desirable work to put food on the table.
  • To be able to present/showcase my movies in their best light.
  • To support causes that I believe in. 

Scilla Andreen's production of an IndieFlix commercial.Contrary to what we may believe about art and money -- either due to ignorance or negligence in looking beyond the surface -- many independent filmmakers are able to earn money for their work. Co-Directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky earned well over six figures with their documentary “INDIEGAME: THE MOVIE.”

Vermont based “NORTHERN BORDERS” director Jay Craven also brought in thousands of dollars from his movies and Zeke Zelker became a master of the $10,000 screening for his drama “InSEARCHOf.” So, what’s wrong with the rest of us? Why are we constantly broke and settling for opportunities to gain exposure over seeking out earnings for our work? Filmmakers don’t know anything different; it has been our conditioning,” says Scilla Andreen of IndieFlix – a service like Netflix that provides unlimited streaming of independent films, anywhere in the world.

Scilla Andreen, CEO of IndieFlix, one of the largest and fastest-growing aggregators of independent film.“I was the same – I’m a filmmaker. I was just grateful to get exposure; are you kidding?!! My movie was going to be on the shelf at Blockbuster -- that’s HUGE! Did I make any money? NO.

Being on iTunes only, are you going to make enough money to live? NO. Being on Netflix only? – People think when you’re movie is on Netflix, 30 million people are going to watch it; are you buying a new house? A new car? No, I got $10,000 for my movie and they’re going to pay me out over eight quarters; 120 days after the quarter ends, in fact, is when the check comes; and there’s no interest on that, and my movie costs $100,000 to make or $750,000 to make or $3 million to make – and I got $10,000 from Netflix for my independent movie, which hasn’t even made a dent in my [investor’s pocket]”. - Scilla Andreen

Through IndieFlix, Andreen facilitates the kind of monetary returns that filmmakers aren’t used to seeing -- taking action on solving the gap between art and commerce. All the while, documentary film director Mary Mazzio conditioned herself for results early on – as a former Olympic rowing athlete who later left a lucrative career in law to make movies. My athletic background gave me perseverance and discipline, which means thinking about who your audience is and what the strategy is; so you’re not making a movie just because you want to make it, but you’re making a movie that you think can find an audience – and when you find an audience, then there’s revenue. Being a young lawyer also gave me the skills to think strategically and like a businessperson,” says this CEO of production company 50 Eggs, Inc. that has successfully sold several of her films on DVD.

'TEN9EIGHT' director Maggie Mazzio with LeRoy McIntosh, Sadeek Morrison, Christopher Graham and Jerry BarryMazzio, whose acclaimed film “TEN9EIGHT” garnered a historic partnership with AMC Theaters, emphasizes the importance of filmmakers thinking through all aspects of our projects.

She adds “How am I going to market this? Who’s going to watch it? How do I get them into theaters? How do I get them to buy the DVD? Why do they want to buy the DVD? – If you think of all those issues and you address them upfront, then you’re likelihood of success is going to be that much greater.” Andreen also strongly recommends doing the homework before even making your movie, as the most efficient thing that filmmakers can do when their ready to distribute their film. “Have a marketing strategy and start building a fan base early on so that by the time you actually are ready to distribute your movie, [there are] people who want to see it. You don’t want to have to start from scratch,” says Andreen.

IndieFlix CEO Scilla Andreen, cutting out the middlemen!Having researched distribution, this Emmy nominee warns filmmakers to not give up all our rights to someone who is promising all this money for our movies. “I firmly believe that it’s important in today’s landscape. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to distribute a movie. I prefer hybrid, split-rights deals to get content out there and – of course, it depends on the movie – but if a distribution company turns up with a deal and big fat advance that will cover the cost of your movie, you might want to do that, but don’t be afraid to self-distribute and work with multiple platforms. It’s not called “self-distribution” anymore; it is the way of the world.” – Scilla Andreen

As Mazzio preps her latest film “UNDERWATER DREAMS,” about undocumented Mexican immigrants who compete against MIT students in a robotics competition sponsored by NASA, she understands the advantages of using numerous outlets; bringing in multiple sources of income for her work – an important move given the bleak future of DVDs.

Director Mary Mazzio and Cinematographer Richard Klug during production of 'Underwater Dreams.'Over time, it’s really going to go the way of the dinosaur but right now the on demand stuff usually [caters to] the personal consumer market, so schools are still using DVD,” says this Georgetown Law school graduate who thinks filmmakers selling DVDs would fare better pursuing the educational market.

“We have ‘THE APPLE PUSHERS’ on DVD but it’s also on iTunes, Netflix and might be on Hulu now – we have a distributor for that and they organize public screenings around it,” allowing her to tap into several markets at once.

As film festival submission fees, shipping expenses, packaging rates, promotional materials and the cost for deliverables start to add up and I continue wondering whether festivals (and movies themselves, for that matter) have any real benefits for me, I know that starving is a choice; and I’m not interested in it. The time has come for independent filmmakers to stop settling for less, stop waiting for permission and quit whining about what we don’t like about our current situations. We could stand to learn a thing or two from go-getters like Scilla Andreen and Mary Mazzio. We must challenge ourselves to step our game up, just like these two women in film who refuse to scrape by for pennies. 

What would YOU attribute to the common disconnect between art and commerce?

Does society play a role in perpetuating the starving artist mentality?

How do YOU watch movies these days (theater, DVD, TV, Netflix, iTunes, On-Demand, etc.)?

Read yesterday's post What's Love Got to do with it? A Closer Look at Making Movies.


Monday Movie Meme - Lost in Translation

Have you’ve ever watched a foreign film with subtitles so puzzling that you feel like you’d be better off seeing this movie in its native language? If so, the theme of this week’s Monday Movie Meme is for you and those of us who have had to find our own way -- through the actions and moving lips in films from other lands: Lost in Translation.

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies you’ve watched that contain frustrating subtitles. They might even be so bad that you felt a headache coming on, just trying to follow long in the story playing out on screen. Some subtitles are incomplete or do not make any sense. Others are displayed in an ineligible font or color that causes strain on the eyes. Whatever the case, you wished more attention to detail was put toward this seemingly minor, yet oh-so-important, aspect of a movie.

Here are my selections for this week’s Lost in Translation theme.

The Girl who played with Fire

I developed a headache while trying to watch this movie due to the faulty subtitles. Solution – turn on the English dub track! That was easy enough, except for the fact that I could not seem to turn the subtitles off, so I had two choices – watch “The Girl who played with Fire” with subtitles only, even though they disappear mid-sentence while the characters are visibly still talking on screen. Or, I can activate this movie’s English dub track and then sit back and watch while the English that I’m hearing on screen doesn’t match up to the subtitles. What the heck?! Did they outsource both versions to two completely different companies, or what?

What I found most interesting, however, is that after I returned this confusing piece of junk back to the library where I borrowed it from, the DVD rental that I picked up from Blockbuster was just fine – so fine that I didn’t even need to watch it with an English dub. I was able to watch it with fully completed subtitles. The lesson in this viewing experience: Be weary of getting foreign films from libraries.

Bliss (Mutluluk)

Yeah, this movie has been on my radar a lot lately and is the (loosely) inspiration for this week’s meme. The subtitles are thin, yellow and too damn small. I had to get up and stand in front of the television several times throughout this movie, just so I could read what the characters were saying.

Good thing that “Bliss” was otherwise a well-made film and had a tight story going for it. Although this is one of few foreign films that I would watch again, it is highly unlikely that I will do so, given the fact that its subtitling size needs to be bumped up a notch or two – or three!


After learning about this popular South Korean mystery drama, I rented the DVD, only to learn that its subtitles do not match up to the action and verbal communication being displayed on screen.

So, I refused to continue to watch “Oldboy” at that time and today it remains among the films I hit the “stop” button on, turning off after only just a few scenes in. Considering what happened with “The Girl who played with Fire” where I had to obtain the same movie twice from different services, I’m now wondering of this “Oldboy” subtitle mix-up was a case of a shoddy DVD source. As the November 27th release of the “Oldboy” remake approaches, I also wonder if I should even bother watching the Korean one; why bother playing subtitle roulette when I can watch an all-English version without all this native/foreign translation drama?!

What foreign films have YOU watched that contained faulty subtitles, making it difficult for you to interpret, or enjoy, the movie?


Sunday Synopsis – Abyss gets a Home and Customers Want More Netflix

The ABYSS movie website and Festival Limbo

Although it’s still a work in progress at this juncture, I managed to get a website up for my short film, “ABYSS.” It ( contains the synopsis, a list of cast and crew as well as other information related to the movie. Updates to the website will be posted there as they come in and as time permits. I’ve spent the last few weeks submitting the movie to festivals and am now playing the waiting game as I look to find out where and when (and if) “ABYSS” will be premiering as well as when and where it will have additional screenings.

In an attempt to save time, space and maintain whatever good juju may be in the workings for me and/or the movie, I won’t be mentioning any of the specific festivals until I hear from them with regards to the project’s status. I will say, however, that upwards of $309 in submission fees alone was spent on trying to secure a premiere for this movie – and it still needs a poster, exhibition prints and related materials – most of which I am currently working on getting done now, as the submissions efforts have slowed to a halt for the time being.

New Monday Movie Meme Participants…

I’d like to send a special shout out to Michael Hennessy at A Few Minutes with the Hennessys for joining in on our Monday Movie Madness. He has been participating in the Monday Movie Meme (MMM) for a few weeks now and I especially like how he remains active by not only posting his selections on his own blog while linking back to the MMM post for the week but also introducing the meme to his readers and followers in social media. Michael also blogs about books in the Mystery, Sci-Fi and Suspense/Thriller genres, for all of you book worms. Check him out, say hello and welcome him to our regularly scheduled walks down memory lane on the big screen.

Netflix Has DVDs?

A few days ago, a woman who currently subscribes to the Netflix streaming service asked me if they offered DVDs for rental when she noticed a red envelope that I was holding with their logo on it. That seemed a little odd, given that the streaming service wasn’t in play until the last few years or so and the actual physical DVD discs are what made it possible for Netflix to grow their business in the video rental market.

It’s no secret that Netflix has been trying to push customers in the direction of their online streaming service and move them away from the DVDs altogether – but the conversation that I had with the woman who was asking me questions about their DVD offerings seem to indicate that they are leaving money on the table by leaving their customers in the dark (whether this is being done intentionally or unintentionally by the company's marketing/advertising and promotions offerings obviously varies from customer to customer).

When I told her that she could rent DVDs from Netflix and to do so, she would have to add a DVD package to her streaming package, which would increase her monthly subscription fees, she still seemed interested in trying out their DVD service.

One of her only concerns were something that we can all relate to and understand as consumers – is it expensive? My concern, however, is the fact that there are people who really have no idea that DVD rentals are available from Netflix. On top of that, I am concerned about the fact that people like the woman I spoke with – people who are already paying a subscription fee for one service – have to add a separate package if they want DVDs.

I understand the company’s decision to split their streaming and the DVD services into to separate packages, to cater to the needs and interests of customers who only want one or the other – but what about those who want both? Why leave them out hanging to dry; confused, uninformed and/or having to piece together a rental package that fits their viewing interests by working various parts of the whole movie rental puzzle around until they find something that fits?

I am aware that this works in the grand scheme of things since we have a variety of VOD services that could rival most standard cable TV packages – but I’m talking about the services being offered by one company, under one roof. What is the deal with Netflix? Wouldn’t it be helpful if they offered a third service that combined DVDs and streaming, even if that service was limited to, say, one standard package such as 1-2 discs per month plus unlimited streaming?

What are YOU all up to these days?