There have been remarks and comments that the new film Paranormal Activity is changing the world of filmmaking, if so then it's possibly one of the biggest blunders by a filmmaker/producer in the history of filmmaking. The film was bought by Paramount for $300,000 and a distribution deal that is an embarrassingly small amount compared to what Paramount will make on this film. OK so Paramount spent a few bucks on re-editing, ten million on marketing and yes it released in lots of theaters across the country, given the times I don't think the filmmaker/producer was thinking when they made this deal with Paramount. Any other time in history my feelings may have been different, but now given some of the developments in independent film distribution and the low cost of marketing a film and especially when it's already has great festival reviews and distributor like Paramount breathing down your back. One other thing to really consider on the long term is the continuing drop in DVD sales which to me means that Paramount is going to be looking at web distribution for it's final and real revenues.
For the same reasons musicians independently label themselves, so should filmmakers. I mean you, the filmmaker or musician, have worked so hard to get the film seen or the music heard through the film and music festivals, you've got a fan base and you've got big producers wanting your content. But somewhere in the back of your mind you start thinking about the fast buck, and what if my art is really not all that or it's too much work. What if I fail as an independent label, grow old and the world never gets to know how great I was. What ever the reason maybe I don't think now is time to sell your rights away on a film.
Come on filmmaker/producer you know you got a gem if you have Paramount approaching you, and with that kind of notice you could use that as leverage to find investors to spend the little bit on cleaning up the sound and video, raise another $15,000 and market the movie online, making more $$ than they will ever make from Paramount, and more important your children will be making $$ on your film long after your dead.
I see a future, actually I believe that future is now, where films can gain enough popularity online to create a great independent theater market. It may not be 20th century theaters at first but yes small guilds and larger independently owned theaters wanting these new hot indie labels in their fine theaters. I can see a future where agents and theaters seek out these hot new labels online for public paid screenings in their fine local theaters. Where a filmmaker is brought in for some of these screenings where he or she can sell limited signed DVD's and T-shirts. Once a filmmaker builds a fan base for their first great film it will be easy to promote and market their second film and giving way to a great future as a true indie filmmaker.