Archive for the ‘Movie Business’ Category

More Screener Scrimmaging

December 21, 2006

dga_logo2.gifAn article in today’s Hollywood Reporter says that the Director’s Guild of America has announced a one-year ban on the practice of sending out DVD copies of movies (called “screeners”) to DGA members in advance of the 59th Annual DGA Awards.

Film distributors send out screeners to judges in hopes of increasing a film’s chance of winning awards. The practice has had a controversial history. Proponents say screeners level the playing field and give low-budget films a chance against highly visible big-budget films. In 2003, screeners were briefly banned for Academy Award contenders, until a lawsuit overturned the ban.

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The Future is Light and Short

December 7, 2006

Many writers have pointed out (e.g. Crooked Timber, Daniel Read et al, and the Wall Street Journal) that when we have to choose what movie to watch days ahead of time (as with Netflix), we tend to make more ambitious choices than what we want when the time comes to watch. For example, many people select a bunch of “highbrow” movies on Netflix, then don’t feel like watching them when they arrive.

Netflix is a great bonanza for highbrow movies today, but what will happen when people have access to a library the size of Netflix, but no longer have to make choices days ahead of time?

Brad Templeton wrote a great piece about this, predicting:

…the real shift coming is to pay-per-view and downloading. If people look at the PPV menu and usually pick the light movie over the serious one, then the market for the serious ones is sunk.

Sadly, I think he is right. But neither good nor bad is his other interesting observation:

I’ve also noticed a push for shorter programming… When you just sit down to choose something from your library, the temptation is strong to watch shorter things instead of making a 2 hour committment to a longer thing.

The data sample is small, but my experience is definitely similar. I now have a pile of a few dozen DVDs acquired through Peerflix. Picking a movie at my house means straining my eyes to find the “running time” in tiny print on every disc, and more often than not, choosing among the shortest.

This could be good news for independent filmmakers, because shorter means cheaper. But if this small sample is predicting correctly, even the big studios would be wise to take note.

Disney Returns to Shorts

December 3, 2006

There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about Disney’s move (a few years ago) to resume development of short animated films. Disney has a long, illustrious history of making shorts, and the company has tried unsuccessfully to revive the old format before. Now, under John Lasseter’s leadership, there is no requirement or expectation that short films be profitable. The express purposes of the projects are to experiment with new techniques and to develop the next generation of talent.

Buried near the end of the article is the momentous news that one of the new shorts will be the first animated film in Disney’s history to be directed by a woman (Stevie Wermers).