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Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.

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Bill Davis
Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 22, 2015 at 4:32:29 pm

http://www.vox.com/2015/11/20/9757186/netflix-video-rental-store

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Craig Seeman
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 22, 2015 at 6:32:33 pm

I watch the demise of both the chain and indy video rental stores in my own neighborhood.
Netflix and the like win for convenience which does speak to the movie "consumer" priorities.

On line rental has never been good at discerning individual tastes for recommendations. That may well be deliberate, since the technology really is there. Why be detailed when the library of available movies is severely limited.

I can't help but think that in many ways, this hurts the indy filmmakers even more. Hard to find cult movies, good festival circuit films that don't get picked up for distribution, shorts that used to find there way onto compilations discs because they were liked by the store staff, never found on Netflix.

Indy video stores had selections colored by the interests of their owners and staffs so there was alway some hope they'd champion a less popular niche. That just doesn't happen in our Netflix driven streaming market.

With the new Apple Music streaming service, they've created space for artists to upload and market their own music as I understand it. If they were to ever do something like that for filmmakers I think it would be possible to compete against Netflix. One might find the blockbusters but also the fans of niches can be introduced to those creations and their creators.

Alas all I'd need would be "someone" to respond to, "I like noir science fictions from eastern Europe" and get an "Ah, you mean titles like these..."



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Steve Connor
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:11:28 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Alas all I'd need would be "someone" to respond to, "I like noir science fictions from eastern Europe" and get an "Ah, you mean titles like these...""

Isn't there a COW forum for this sort of thing?


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Tim Wilson
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:35:17 am
Last Edited By Tim Wilson on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:37:55 am

Thanks for the article, Bill. Perfect Sunday reading.

[Steve Connor] "Isn't there a COW forum for this sort of thing?"

Well, sort of.

I'd started that forum as a place to talk about the stuff we WATCH, rather than the stuff we MAKE, and one of my regrets as a COW-boy is that it never really took off, and I've never figured out any other way to get those kinds of conversations started. I'd love to.

Hey, I'd be fine if we did it in this forum instead. :-)


It started off as the Film History forum, actually, then gradually added some newer movies. I later explicitly included TV, both because I personally prefer TV to movies, but also, even the snobbiest cineastes are conceding that TV has some of the most compelling storytelling.

I'd still love to figure out how to build the right kind of place for talking about what we're watching here. Suggestions?


Back to the article.

My very first job was in a bookstore, and in a lot of ways, my favorite job ever was being a bookstore manager for Barnes & Noble. (Back in the days before the super-sized ones.) I loved hand-curating recommendations...but the author of this article is nuts to think that this whole thing is gone because his video store closed.

The internet is actually pretty good at this stuff...and by "the internet," I don't just mean algorithms. I have access to articles like this guy's, a ton of great links like ones in that very article to OTHER great articles, my friends and family on social media from whom I've gotten a TON of recommendations that I'd never gotten in person, etc etc etc.

I've also found that I talk more about this stuff with strangers and near-strangers than I used to. I recently had a great conversation with somebody in a checkout line about the adaptation of the book Moneyball into a movie, based on seeing Divergent next to the cash register. (Specifically, why some adaptations work, and why some don't.)

Bill, I know that you noted that some parts of the article are uneven. A great conversation starter for sure, but here's one part that pissed me off.

With online streaming, we don't decide — we settle.


He's f'in kidding, right? People didn't go into his video store every single day and just "settle" for something? As in, almost every customer, on almost every Friday, who went in to get one of the 10 copies of the movie they wanted, found it was already gone, and had to "settle" for something?

Maybe he didn't notice what 99% of his customers were doing while he was flirting.

That means folks are less likely to engage with a film on a deep level; worse, it means people stop taking chances on challenging films.


Ah yes, because people who don't go into stores to take recommendations from clerks like him aren't engaged viewers. They're not as bold. They just don't care as much.

Srsly? If there was a draft of his article that didn't say "People who stream movies aren't as smart as the people who take recommendations from me in my store," it's only because he wasn't being honest with himself.

Again, with sympathy to his fondness for The Life of a Conscientious Arts Retailer, I still think he's way off base on some key points.

But I think Craig was a whole lot sharper on one of the biggies.


[Craig Seeman] "One might find the blockbusters but also the fans of niches can be introduced to those creations and their creators."

One of the saddest things I've ever heard about Kickstarter: the LEAST successfully-funded category there is films.

I don't have any sharp insights to glean from this other than the obvious one, that there are more people driven to tell stories than people are driven to support them financially.

I don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing. Better to tell the story than not, no matter how few other people get to hear it. After all, the flipside of social media is that we'll speak our minds KNOWING that nobody is listening.

But I do think that ease of creation is MORE than inversely proportional to ease of distribution these days. The difficulty of finding the niche movie I want to see is almost growing more quickly than the number of movies. Or the number of niches.

We ran an article in the COW a couple of months back, Six Benefits of Microbudget Filmmaking -- and How to Succeed! that focused on some truly original outreach, in their case, starting with a live online map of swing-dancing clubs around the world. (Frankly, even crazier than it sounds, but also far cleverer. No kidding. Check that story out.)

I recently came across a community of documentary distribution called New Day Films. It's actually been around since 1971, but they've come up with an approach I love. They're not gearing distribution or outreach to individuals. They're making it easy for schools, libraries, community groups, even corporations, with sliding scales based on the kind and size of group that's booking it.

Some of the films distributed via New Day are probably available elsewhere. Maybe Netflix or Amazon, too. But their focus is on getting into the hands of people who can get other people to watch challenging films. Not only do I not think that this is limited to video clerks, I think that the environment for this is richer than ever....if we can just complete those last few steps between creators and viewers.

Anyway, very cool stuff, worth checking out. New Day Films

Incidentally, New Day was co-founded by one of my personal heroes, Amalie R Rothschild. She was a freelance photographer in the late 60s, and from 1969 to 1971 she was part of the Joshua Light Show at the Fillmore East. The wild slides, film loops and such in all those light shows? She was in the middle of it. She was also the Fillmore's unofficial house photographer. Plus Woodstock, Newport Folk Festival, Isle of Wight, Dylan's 1974 tour, anti-war demonstrations, The Who's US debut of Tommy -- it's a crazy list. If you've ever owned any meaningful number of albums or CDs, especially for an artist who ever passed through New York in general or the Fillmore in particular, I guarantee you've got some of her photos in your house.

Along the way, she picked up an MFA in Film Production at NYU in 1971, and, in need of a way to get her movies and movies like hers seen, she founded New Day. Here's her story.

Anyway, this question ain't gonna get any easier to solve, I think.


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Bill Davis
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:14:11 pm

Glad you enjoyed it too, Tim.

Actually, my "uneven" comment was because, like you, I had a number of bones to pick with some of his ideas - which, when I think about it is PRECISELY what I've come to love in reading pieces like this.

It's just SO easy to get caught up in the "because you precisely AGREE with me, I like what you write" mode.

It's so much more interesting to find things that resonate - but ALSO contain things that cause us take a brief second look at some of our assumptions.

; )

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:31:26 pm
Last Edited By Tim Wilson on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:38:43 pm

[Bill Davis] "It's so much more interesting to find things that resonate - but ALSO contain things that cause us take a brief second look at some of our assumptions. "

I much prefer when people agree with me. LOL

Being honest, I do also find that my reflex reaction in life is the same one in my post, to see the places where the other guy needs to have thought about it more carefully. Because surely if he had, he'd have agreed with me in the first place. Assuming he wasn't a dinosaur, or somebody who "just doesn't get it." :-)

So, as I reach out for common ground, what did YOU disagree with? LOL

Kidding aside, I'd love to get your thoughts about the issues he raises.

(Also kidding aside, I do very much appreciate that articulating my disagreement helps me clarify my own understanding of an issue. It often drives me to do actual RESEARCH to document my positions, an ongoing process of refining my positions. So I do in fact value disagreement....within a range. LOL)


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Herb Sevush
Re: Sorta OT, but a nice Sunday read (if a bit uneven) for the many, many movie buffs here. Enjoy.
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:37:09 pm

Nice article, thanks for posting.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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