No Illusions

“We’re basically marketing to an eight-year-old”

We want horror and action films. No comedy, no drama. They’re too boring.
No cross genre stuff. Only the big boys get away with pushing those boundaries a little.

“You have to conform”

Your film must fit into a familiar category.
Get “a-list” or even “b-list” actors involved in your film – at least supporting it.

Why do it, if not for money? … “That’s the point”

“Yes, you have to give up your rights.”
It’s not your baby. You can’t see it that way. You’re just “making things” for us to sell.

“Filmmaking is just like making bread”.

Why bother making bread, if not certain someone will sell it or buy it?
You should consult industry/distribution outlets first about what you should make.

Wow. Right there, in the open –

the war and ethical chasms between art and business made crystal clear.

The cocky confessions and bad analogies of guest distributors and industry businessmen were the most unsettling part of my festival journey. Their aim seemed to insult, if not defeat, the whole point.

But looking back, these notes, quoted and paraphrased above, do effectively illuminate the prevailing agendas and attitudes of those essentially controlling speech and reach – your access to their “free” market.

Clear, hopeless admissions and advice to the artist notwithstanding, I needed more evidence. I chose to explore the territory for myself to confirm that my chances of reasonable exposure and participation in the film market were already slim to none.

I enlisted the help of an agent, familiar with the spectrum of film distributors out there,
from long-shot to legally borderline.

We started with the giants.
Amazon Originals replied that my cross-genre dance-u-mentary wasn’t “for Originals”. The likes of HBO and Hulu responded bluntly, “too small”. I asked my agent for clarification, to keep my 5’2 sensitivities at bay, and he said they were speaking of our cast profile and budget – both “too small”. We both sighed. 

Someday, I guess we’ll learn how inventive and industry-independent artists from the middle-class, with credible expertise and the support/validation of other collaborating professionals, build big enough profiles and generate big enough budgets, without big enough opportunity – without a visible, viable, and competitive place in the market.

My agent said it more succinctly. Maybe someday, they’ll “see the light”.

That dream aside, it was time to move on to a second tier of “distributors”.