Archive for the ‘theaters’ Category

Hacking Film

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Hacking Film Poster

I spent the weekend at the Film Experience Hackathon and it was a lot of fun to try and make something in a weekend. My team, with a core of two people, were able to come up with an idea and conceptual prototype for a service that is useful and potentially widely distributable, a crowdsourcing subtitling and translation service for independent filmmakers.  More to come.

Of course, what I think many were hoping for was a magical app to solve engagement and discovery. It stands to (some) reason that there’s a lot of potential in how consumers find and share new and favourite films, as they do with music. There should be a growing market for independent, foreign, experimental work.

In some ways, I think there is evidence to support this.  There are way more film schools, film festivals and submissions to festivals.  There are new services that cater to people who make video and want to share it. These are growing industries in film.  That the distribution of film in its traditional sense is not a growth industry only represents a shift.

I understand the interest in preserving the love of “cinema” as it has been known. I love watching films in a theatre and I have a passion for cinema that led me into the career I’ve had. Can it be preserved and transmitted any more than it would be possible to convey what the cabaret meant to people in the 1930s to me?

If you’re going to focus on “saving” the film experience in an arthouse form, focusing on the theatrical experience is key.  To do that I think theatres need to understand that seeing a film is an activity choice and that making the experience more social is essential. I.e., I want to potentially meet someone if I go to the movies. Independent theatres should also be doing way more to create community- hosting meetups, doing other kinds of events, opening the experience up to the imagination of their audience and members.  They should also be partnering far more with online services.

Online services should be supporting the theatrical experience far more, not just out of love, but because customers for online services come from the core of theatre-goers and people who watch films in theatres understand and appreciate cinema no matter what platform on which its encountered. There are some services now trying to bridge this gap, such as Tugg or Gathr, but overall there’s a ton of unexplored space.

I’ve got some ideas on this front and I hope there will be more hands-on events like this to spark tech people to think about this question. Janet Pierson is bringing tech into film at SXSW (aside from the irony of having more tech in SXSW Film, this should be a constructive collaboration). Where will we go next?

Best Bets for Screening Indie Films in Brooklyn

Monday, March 21st, 2011
Rooftop at Bkln Tech

Rooftop Films at Brooklyn Tech

A number of new venues have popped up around Brooklyn that show film some or all of the time. These can be great places to screen for a local or younger crowd or for a special event screening.

indiescreen – 285 Kent St in Williamsburg. Offers a full menu as well as first run indie movies.

Brooklyn Lyceum – shows occasional films and hosts Flicker NYC Super 8 nights.

The Bell House – Located in the Gowanus, hosts special events including screenings.

- this lovely space in DUMBO (relocated from Williamsburg) hosts screenings as well as performance, music and other events.

reRun Gastropub Theater- in DUMBO, this small theater in the back of a bar offers a small menu and indie screenings.

Brooklyn Bowl – pair your premeire with some pins at Brooklyn Bowl’s screening space.

The Back Room at The Gutter – Bowling + Movies = Love, at least in Brooklyn.

Rooftop Films – The masters of outdoor summer screening fun use a number of Brooklyn venues.

Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery – in DUMBO, for BAC artists

Zora Art Space – Has occasional screening series in the heart of Park Slope.

The Knitting Factory – Mostly a music venue, the Brooklyn outpost of the minichain does show films from time to time.

Brooklyn Historical Society
– 128 Pierrepont St. If your film is of Brooklynish historical relevance, this might be an option.

It’s also probably that many of the music venues around Brooklyn would be able to accomodate a 4-Wall type booking as most do have fairly robust A/V situations. Other options, if appropriate, are the library, churches, or community centres.

There is also the venerable BAM Cinematek, Cobble Hill Cinemas, and a new multiplex to open this fall in Williamsburg. Add more or tell us your experience with any of these venues in the comments.

A movie or a measure

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Over at Digital Cinema Report, IndiePix prez Bob Alexander has a column about the “New Era for Independent Film.” Among his points:

  • Over the last 3 months, the indie distribution business has seen some major shifts, either towards elimination of specialty divisions at studios (Warner Independent, New Line, Picturehouse); financial instability (THINKFilm); or consolidation of cable markets for indie film (Sundance @ Cablevision).
  • With the expenses of theatrical, it will be too costly to put indie films in theatres.
  • Traditional indie distributors don’t have a plan for this end-of-theatrical marketplace.
  • The new era will allow for amazing new films with great cinematography, editing, and storytelling but will not use theatrical distribution (but IndiePix will be at the forefront, natch!)

While I applaud Bob’s vision and his optimism, I can’t say I agree with the model he’s proposing, at least as I understand it. While I believe that there will be a market for digital distribution for indies (it is, in fact, the premise of this here blog), I think that the idea that theatrical will totally wither and die seems unlikely for a number of reasons. What seems more likely is that indie theatrical will need to become more limber, have a better understanding of what was once known as the “non-theatrical” market (schools, museums, non-profits), find more creative ways of rolling films out and rely more on marketing than advertising. Some kind of “theatrical” is still important and will continue to be so- even though the real money for the last decade has been in ancillary.

One reason traditionally is reviews- perhaps a new first gate will emerge for reviews (major festivals?) but so far, if you want reviews, it’s pretty important to have a theatrical. Conceivably there could be an online system with the same prestige as theatrical but right now the model seems to be to get everything out there and “let the audience decide”- which they have done in the past with the help of reviews from theatrical runs. Reviews are not what they once were, but for the indie world, they are still pretty important for getting people interested in the film. A great NYTimes review still has traction- and a theatrical is needed, by and large, for the Times.

Maybe even more importantly, theatrical is a great social networking tool. I think it has not been exploited enough in this way- there are a lot of things exhibitors can do to make their theatre more than just a 2-hour destination point. But even so, going to a movie is a great social activity as a date or as thing to do with friends- it’s economical, climate-controlled, and creates a common experience in 90-120 minutes. It’s also fun to do alone when you want to get out of the house. I don’t think watching something on your computer (or even set-top box) will replace this completely.