Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little Stimulus for me too please!

There's an online petition going around. Here's the text:

One Percent for the Arts Campaign

Congress will soon pass a stimulus package aimed at creating jobs and stimulating the economy. We ask that 1% of the stimulus support the arts. In the 1930s the Work Progress Administration created by Roosevelt created 3 million jobs. They built roads, streets, highways, bridges, parks, and public buildings. They also worked in the arts.

Our generation deserves no less.

The WPA employed 40,000 artists, writers, musicians, theater workers, and performers. Public support made it possible for people of modest means to dedicate themselves to their work. The WPA supported Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Saul Bellow, Zora Neal Hurston, John Steinbeck, Sterling Brown, Orson Welles, John Houseman, Burt Lancaster, and many other great talents, known and unknown. The WPA arts projects reached wide audiences and made the theater, music, and the arts accessible to low-income people.

An arts stimulus package could increase fellowship and scholarship money, create workplace arts and reading programs, foster cultural exchange programs, support artist-in-residency programs in schools and libraries, and more.

We are also calling for a cabinet level position for a Secretary of the Arts.

At first I thought this was ridiculous. But then I thought - hey - why not some film financing - it fits the profile - an expensive, short-term project that will benefit relatively few people. Besides, I've always wanted to adapt a real Horatio Alger story and this just seems like the perfect opportunity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The elusive $60,000 feature

I had lunch with a friend last week and we were talking about the state of films and film making (I'm conflicted on the grammaticality of the elision of those two words into one in our popular culture) and distribution and the prospect of making films in the future that are not under the umbrella of a studio - major, mini or otherwise. The subject specifically turned to the idea of a $60,000.00 feature film. Now in the past this was easily (well, not easily - my $85k film was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life) done and there were distribution avenues available - to some degree theatrical and certainly home video. But the world is changing and the studios are getting out of indie like rats leaving a sinking ship. Video stores are going the way of the typewriter and Netflix has filled the void in essence, by itself. Of course the prospect of online distribution had us engaged for a little while, but the question arose : is it feasible to make a $60,000 feature film? Of course it's feasible if one doesn't intend to make a profit, but given that there's not much of a future in producing a stream of calling card films, that would seem to be goal. But where and how can these films make money? Who's showing them and more importantly, now that the indie world has been co-opted and then abandoned by studios and theaters, and perhaps re-directed by YouTube and the interweb in general, who and where is the audience?