Yesterday I got an interesting response, reprinted below, from Stephen Press, a cameraman who lives New Zealand.
Because of the enormous time difference Press, (who posts himself as Cameragod in b-roll.net and Pencilgod (in homage (or perhaps not) to my vision of the camera as the electronic equivalent of a pencil) here, asks if I am not going after the wrong problem in TV news. Perhaps, he opines, the issue is with management and distribution. Perhaps.
Ironically, yesterday I had breakfast with an old friend, Dr. Leonard Shlain.
Shlain, is the author of three fascinating books, as well as a world wide lecturer and in his spare time is a surgeon and is the Chairman of Laparoscopic surgery at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is an Associate Professor of Surgery at UCSF. He was with his wife, Ina Gyemant, who is a judge in San Francisco.
Time spent with Len Shlain is always fascinating. Before going into surgery, he trained to be a psychiatrist, and that training is evident as he synthesizes history, biology and technology to create entirely new insights into how the world works.
One of his books, (and the way I met him) is, to my mind, required reading. It is called The Alphabet vs. The Goddess. It is a study of the move from oral culture to print, and now to video, but with a view to the left brain/right brain ramifications.
But what does all this have to do with Cameragod?
Shlain’s daughter, Tiffany (hence the title) is a filmmaker based in San Francisco.
Unlike many independent filmmakers, she was fortunate to find funding for her film. Other projects are bogged down for years for lack of money. Distribution is a bit harder to come by for Indys. The process generally requires making the film and then dragging it from festival to festival in the hopes of getting it recognized by a distributor who will then deign to run it on a few screens for a few weeks.
Shorts are the hardest to place. And Tiffany’s most recent film, The Tribe, is a short.
Tiffany, however, did something different a a bit radical.
She took the film to Apple, and convinced them to offer it on their iTunes site.
No theaters, no distributors – direct from creator to consumer.
It is now the number 10 downloaded film on the site, behind Pixar’s offerings. Quite an achievement for an indy. But also quite an interesting way of indys both being distributed and making some real money.
In a world in which the web is in every household, and it can carry video, do we really need distributors, or movie houses… or networks anymore?
Here’s an interesting article from the NY Times on all this.
We will always need creative people who can make content.
But the path to more efficient economies is going to sweep away more than just camera crews…..