Mike Curtis has made the case that indie features aren’t a viable business. Sad, perhaps (Nate Van Dusen said Mike was “serving up hot cups of depresso”), but that doesn’t mean that indie films as a whole are dead. Documentaries, for example, remain alive and well.
• Karil Daniels’ 42-minute doc, “Voices of Dissent: Activism & American Democracy” has been screened at festivals nationwide, and is on KTEH, San Jose public TV, Channel 54 (Comcast 10) this coming Monday, 22 Dec 2008, at 11 pm (there will also be an encore showing Tuesday the 23rd at 5 am, for the really early risers), as part of the VIDEO I series that focuses on the work of independent filmmakers. You can see an 8-minute short version on YouTube, and Ms. Daniels also sells DVDs.
• Dorothy Fadiman’s “Stealing America: Vote By Vote” had a flurry of screenings in theaters and on TV leading up to the last election, and it’s also available online on YouTube and Vimeo (links on the website), as well as on DVD.
Both women have been working in docs for a long time (Ms. Fadiman started Concentric Media in 1978), and while neither one is getting rich, they’re both making a living, and they’re doing what they love.
“Yeah, but these are ‘issue’ films, so they’re easy to find a niche audience for.” Perhaps, but is there anything wrong with that? As the media marketplace fragments, and as media-making gets democratized by high-quality, affordable tools (though talent, of course, remains a rare commodity), success in independent production means finding a niche.
Have a look at their websites. See where their films have screened; watch their ‘net clips, even (dare I say it?) buy their DVDs. Look at how they’re distributing their work, drumming up PR, getting their works on broadcast and cable. Pour that depresso down the drain, and see how the professional independents get it done.