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This weekend, film maker colleague Simon Cox and myself have been selling our movies on DVD at Memorabilia – you can see the video above, just how the day turned out, and how much of a graft it can be.
I have always known the value of being able to sell your own stuff, but an event like this offers more than just the opportunity to sell some DVD’s. It’s a real learning experience. Getting that title right, killer artwork, expected cast and clear genre all make for an easy sale. While editing, I noticed something new in the footage, something I had never really noticed before in the heat of the sales floor – I noticed just how much time and how often people read the back of the DVD case. Those few sentences really seemed to be as important as the artwork and the title. I can see now that this synopsis is vital to get right as the customer will almost certainly pass if they don’t like what’s written there.
Something new for Simon and myself this time round was asking people for their emails, which they typed into a laptop, so that we can contact them in the future regarding our next movies.
I didn’t push Gone Fishing hard at all, as it’s a short film, but I was delighted that a few people did know of it and were very eager to buy it and watch it.
I also bumped into Warwick Davis, who we all know from Willow, The Star Wars movies and Harry Potter. I gave him a copy of Gone Fishing and reminded him that he made a film as a director which was in competition with my short film, ‘The Thing From Beneath The Bed’, back in 1988! Sadly, his very entertaining short ‘Video Nasty’ about a VCR that ate people, lost, as did mine, to a rather incomprehensible social realist angsty film that I forget the name of. Seems little ever changes!
One other sign of the time also took place at Memorabilia. A guy I was speaking to said that he had Urban Ghost Story and really liked it. I asked which DVD release it was, and he said, neither, he had downloaded it illegally. Just plain came out and said it. I suggested he could now own his own legal copy and he seemed a little ‘stunned’ that I would be so direct with him. I didn’t push it.
We all know piracy is going on, at an incredible scale too, but to own up to the film maker that they downloaded their film, and then be surprised when the film maker gently suggests they should buy a legal copy tells us a great deal about the state of things. People really do expect music and movies to be free. This leads us all into thinking, how can we better protect our work (or is it even possible)? Or more likely, how can we find new models that pay us to give the film away for free or nearly for free? Blimey. It’s the Wild West out there!
UPDATE – I forgot to tell you how much a stand costs… Of course you have travel and accommodation, but parking is free for Exhibitors, the stand costs £120 for 2 days and electricity is £90. So all in £210 for a stand at the convention. Not too bad.
Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author
Piracy has become a massive and controversial problem and is affecting our film and music industry. Seeing this from my point of view only and I’m open to being corrected.
The trouble is the internet has changed everything! No one seems to know much about copyright rules, except where it applies to new films and music.
Everywhere on the net infringements take place on you tube my space as examples.. This is creating huge grey areas that opens it up for crooks.
People are already accustomed to having video recorders and can record and play back anything shown on TV Show their friends and family.. All recorders by nature break copyright.
Should it be an unwritten rule that once sold to national TV then the public can record and watch it? As has always been the case? Should national TV pay extra then? If the public download something should they be blamed? Or is that down to the website acting illegally?
None of this makes much sense. You could record in digital from the radio any track you want and yet this is legal? But not so if you download from the net?
My instinct is the public should not be blamed but those who supply it simply because by blaming the public you alienate them and actually you cant stop them. At least not presently. The second thing is clear guidelines regarding older works that have been shown nationally should be drawn up that allows people to copy for their own use but not to download copies on a computer. The problem is many think well if I can record a copy from a recorder then why not from the net? The distinction being one person recording at home is a bit different to a download site flogging cheaply someones work. This needs to be highlighted boldly that its the same as buying stolen goods.
At the moment the crooks are having a field day thanks to the muddled confusion and lack of clear rules.
Oh god Chris – what a brilliant idea! Extremely informative and inspiring… and you even got Willow to get a copy!
Regrettably I too had someone admit to owning a pirate download of my first film, The Killing Zone, back in ’99. It was both surprising and distressing. At the time the guy refused to tell me from which site he’d downloaded it, and saw nothing wrong in the fact he and his fellows were depriving my small and struggling production company of much needed revenue. Hard enough ensuring your sales agent and distributor are scrupulous in their accounting without having to lose out to pirates as well.
Some Finnish indie filmmakers have interesting thoughts on the question you raise about is there a way to earn money by giving something away for free. They’ve actually done that with their low-budget feature.
You might want to read for example this post: http://blog.starwreck.com/2008/11/02/out-of-thin-air/
I think people often forget the advantages of illegal downloading. Movies and music do indeed cost money to watch and this will inevitably restrict casual observers with only a slight passing interest in renting or buying a film. With illegal downloading however there is a far greater possibility of said person ‘discovering’ your film as all they have to do is press a button and then bam its on their pc. Admittedly you will financially gain nothing but you will gain a fan and someone who will follow your future work. In turn there is a far greater chance that they will purchase your project (NOTE FROM CHRIS – care to back that up with some evidence?). Surely the film industry must have picked up on this by now, the music industry definitely have.
I’d be interested to know if the person you describe in your blog bought a copy of Gone Fishing as a result of liking Urban Ghost Story (NOTE FROM CHRIS – No he didnt)
Its a shame that liking Urban Ghost Story is not satisfactory enough for you and that you feel you require some financial benefit (NOTE FROM CHRIS – sorry but that’s just niave). Why do we make films if not for other people to enjoy them? (NOTE FROM CHRIS – ANyoine who knows me understands that I am passionate about the audience, but its two way. If I the storyteller gives you something you like, you should reward the storyteller)
CHRIS RESPONDS – Sadly, the author of this comment declined to name themselves, which says a great deal. Of course I am delighted if people like my films, I just don’t know what to say to unpaid investors, cast and crew about revenue that they should be seeing. And no he didn’t buy a film, I suspect he will just find a download in due course. This is a very complex problem, and I am sad that you chose to stay annonymous. It only makes your words sound empty.
There has to be some mileage in comparing a bunch of people who make a movie and a those who form a band. Each want to be discovered but I’ve never heard of anyone getting a grant to write and record a song nor have I heard of land lord paying for a film maker to show thier movie in his pub to boost sales of his beer! – Perhaps they should though, and just like a band, the film maker might flog a few DVDs from a guitar case to adoring fans!
I just watched the memorabilia film. Wow. Well done Chris you really deserve to get on. You come across very enthusiastic sincere and a great ambassador. The thing is you’re doing what I should be doing but with confidence and flair getting out there and making it work.
Loved the conversation with the daleks.
(Err cue my film here…
A really British institution! I’d love to see a British director make a really good good Brit style sci fi film. After the last series of Dr Who I know it could be done.
Sorry the link for my film has a mistake should be
Without the bracket on the end of the address!