The VOD Dilemma

While it isn’t a new phenomenon, its repercussions continue to surprise and inform film industry members about the state of today’s independent filmmaking scene. That’s right, I’m talking about VOD (Video on Demand) and streaming (Netflix, iTunes, etc.), making do-it-yourself distributing easier than ever before. This is a conundrum that movie theaters (especially independent ones) and film festivals have been grappling with for several years now, but its overwhelming presence in the indie film world is growing by the second. If you were a filmmaker who had just completed your latest project, would you rather go down the mysterious, uncertain and potentially disappointing mainstream distribution route, or would you rather take things into your own (digital) hands? Filmmakers everywhere are utilizing the internet to get their film in front of as many film hungry and tech-savvy viewers as possible, even though the payoff is minuscule compared to the potential big-business distribution deal. So, now, many films are skipping the festival circuit and theater distribution route altogether, and are going straight to the people. How can a small, independent festival like DCFF intercept some of those films and bring them to a real, live audience? The answer is simple: stay true to ourselves and to our mission.

 

Through my experience in the festival world, it’s clear to me that filmmakers want two things: to make a living off of telling stories and crafting movies, and to get their film in the public eye if for nothing more than to get feedback and to challenge themselves to improve. Film festivals are probably the easiest way for filmmakers to achieve the latter. After all, audience engagement is one of the main pillars of most festivals, including DCFF. Filmmakers are attracted to festivals that offer opportunities for discussion, for filmmakers to meet each other, and for a truly supportive and dynamic creative forum. So, as I begin to sort through the slate of festival stand-outs for 2014, I intend to put DCFF’s best foot forward when communicating with their filmmakers. We are a festival meant to showcase the finest independent films out there, to celebrate courageous story-telling, and to allow audiences to see downright good movies. We’re confident in our mission, and in maintaining belief in the truly-independent filmmaking route. In fact, some films start out at festivals, gain notoriety and come out on top (i.e. FRUITVALE STATION – 2013 Sundance FF stand-out –> a screening at Cannes –> major nation-wide distribution –> dozens of award nominations; or SHORT TERM 12, a phenomenal film I wrote about in a previous blog post). We want to continue the tradition of opening the door for indie filmmakers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. You never know what DCFF alum will be releasing their film digitally in the next few years, or whose film will be discovered through its screenings on the festival circuit. We are thrilled to be part of the experience – with or without VOD releasing. The goal remains the same – to continue producing important, thought-provoking stories and films and sharing them with an engaged audience.

 

Fruitvale Station posterIndieWire.com regularly lists the newest releases on iTunes or VOD. Check out the latest additions (with some 2013 festival favorites) here! http://www.indiewire.com/article/top-10-indies-in-the-itunes-store-this-week-thanks-for-sharing-and-enough-said-hit-the-list

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