Israeli filmmaker Dan Wolman writes to Indian indie filmmakers
Israeli director Dan Wolman writes an open letter to Indian indie filmmakers:
We are at the very critical, dramatic and important period for independent filmmakers all over the world. The digital revolution enables us to produce films relatively inexpensively and as a result much more films are being made, many of them daring, experimental, and creative. But alongside this promising momentum there is a disturbing aspect which calls for a radical change.
I travel a lot to film festivals all over the world and meet independent filmmakers at screenings, lectures and Master Classes which I conduct. Over and over I find that many of these filmmakers are upset and frustrated by the problems they encounter with the distribution of their films.
Today, the way distributors, cinemas and the whole distribution system works, does not fit the kinds of films many of us independent filmmakers make and in many ways the current system blocks our work from our potential public not giving us a chance to be paid for our work and thus not enabling us to continue making our films.
I think that the only way we can overcome this obstacle is to start our own independent filmmaker’s distribution company! The idea is not to act against the existing system, but to work parallel to it and to create a system which will not work only for independent filmmakers, but also for producers. Because it will broaden the distribution possibilities – more films will be distributed – more audiences will experience and enjoy it.
I would like to share with you some the frustrations I experienced with my last feature film (“Gei Oni”) and I’m sure many of you will identify with me. In the past I used to give my films to regular distributors as customary. I was not involved in the distribution and when a distributor would notify me that in a certain city my film would end it’s run, I’d except the verdict without any complaint. For some reasons I decided to distribute my last feature film by myself – no middlemen – no mediator – I was in touch directly with the cinema owners.
Three weeks after my film started running at a cinema in one of the big cities, I was notified by the owners that they were very sorry, but they had to take it off. When I asked why, I was told they have an obligation to American movies contending for the Oscar. I was very upset because looking at the reports from the cinema I could see that people were still coming to see my film in good numbers. I looked for a solution. Soon I found out that near the cinema there was a museum with a very nice screening room, all equipped to show films in D.V.D. and when I approached the people in charge asking if they’d be interested in presenting my film– they agreed giving me better terms than the cinema offered.
I realized that a lot has to do with my own initiative. I continued my search and discovered that not only in that city, but in many other cities around the country there are institutions, museums, theaters, community centers, clubs, schools. universities, hotels, homes for the aged etc – which have very nice and well equipped screening rooms and many of them are happy to cooperate and present independent films.
Today, every independent filmmaker – after finishing his film is seeking to present his film at an institution, a museum, a club – when you think of it – a lot of energy is being wasted. My question is – why should each one of us act alone? Why not institutionalize this activity and create our own distribution network which will serve us all.
Today one can screen films in decent quality through the computer, or the use of D.V.D., Blue Ray and more sophisticated formats.
Why not – aside from screening our films at regular screening rooms – rent cellars and roofs and distribute our films by ourselves?
We don’t need no mediator, nor middlemen. We have to create a distribution company of the independent filmmakers in each and every country and each one of us filmmakers will have a share in it.
Our organization will strive to achieve the following goals:
- It will search throughout the country for venues which could serve us and present our films.
- It will negotiate and draw contracts with the venue owners for the distribution of our films.
- It will fight for decent payment for the showing of our films and make sure the monies are paid to the filmmakers with transparency.
- It will assure the payments are executed quickly and efficiently, accurately and with the greatest economy.
- It will represent and fight for the rights of the independent filmmaker’s network opposite governmental and public bodies, film and television institutions.
- It will be responsible for accurate documenting and systematically recording of the screening of our films and will carefully check the reports of the venue owners.
- It will market and distribute independent films through the internet using chain letters, Facebook, YouTube, V.O.D. and all other media possibilities.
- It will encourage private people and groups to form film clubs which encourage the screening of the independent films and the meeting with it’s makers.
Those interested in participating in the forming of a new distribution network of independent filmmakers – please contact me through my Facebook page: