A Quick Thought on the 38 Failures of American Film

by jaredmoshe
May 11, 2010 5:02 AM
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Ted Hope breaks down thirty-eight more ways the film industry is broken. It's a good list and provides a lot to think about as people experiment with solutions. I still believe that the fundamental problem with the film industry is that the cost of making a film outstrips the revenue that can be received from one. Of course, as long as we continue to flood the market with expensive films that aggregators can pick up for a pittance that won't change. And it occurs to me that perhaps it's the acquisitions mindset that really needs to change. It creates a false distinction between creators and distributors that breaks down the economics of the film industry. A distributor does not have assume the risk of associated with the cost of film creation and therefore has no responsibility for recouping those costs, which means that the film's value automatically is completely independent from it's cost. The hard value of the film becomes unquantifiable. This in turn causes financiers to grasp for anything they can use to quantify the return on investment. Hence the adoption of the foreign sale model, which Ted very rightly points is so problematic that, "no one talks about it." I wonder what would happen if every independent filmmaker didn't go into production until they had a raised a full budget including distribution costs that would insure a break even return on investment or secured distribution in enough territories to insure the same. The mental leap among everyone from directors to marketing execs to producers to grips would be huge: the acquisitions culture literally defines independent film. Everything would need to change... but then doesn't it already?


  • jaredmoshe | May 12, 2010 10:45 AMReply

    That's the problem. ROI are fabricated because films are being made without any sense of how they are going to recoup money. If you budgeted and raised financing with distribution projected you could then know the price point at which to make the film.

    And as to the difficulty of raising funds to get a film the can - I am very much aware. However if you are making a film to be seen by audiences you should incorporate the costs of reaching that audience into the budget - otherwise why budget for anything beyond a rough cut?

  • Miles maker | May 12, 2010 1:00 AMReply

    There is simply no way to insure a break even return on investment in any business. There will always be risk! Filmmakers are having a hard enough time as it is raising funds to get their film in the can, let alone post and P&A--now distribution costs? What distribution costs are you referring to?

    Most ROI projections are already fabricated beyond any realistic attempt at accuracy for the sole purpose of securing funding--imagine the additional losses many films would sustain on the distribution front.

    [Miles Maker is a story author, motion picture auteur and independent distributor whose dynamic media ventures encompass mobile, social and real-time megatrends @milesmaker on Twitter. He is the Group Director of IndieClub NYC, the Executive Producer of Directing Actors and a Raindance NYC Affiliate]