WILL KEVIN SMITH CHANGE INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING
Kevin Smith is right. He definitely generated a ton of hype for the world premiere of Red State at Sundance this year with basically no cost at all. Movie sites, bloggers, fans and critics were all talking about his plan to auction off the distribution rights after the screening.
It was a ballsy move for sure. What if the movie didn’t connect to the audience? Would it blow up in his face?
Little did we know, selling the rights to distribute and market his film was never his intention at all.
Here is his speech after the screening:
His intention was to prove that you could make and distribute a film for far less than the studios spend on films these days. So he bid $20 bucks on his own movie in a symbolic gesture to prove that times are changing in the independent film world.
His plan is simple. Instead of selling a 4 million dollar film to a studio who would then spend 20 million to market the flick, he would distribute the film as part of a cross country tour leading to a theatrical release he would orchestrate himself.
“It’s too much ****ing horse **it, I just want to tell ****ing stories.”
So he will take his film on the road armed with 1.7 twitter followers, his ever expanding podcasting network and the word of mouth of his loyal fans. There have even been protests both for and against the film and it’s religious themes. It’s all free publicity for Red State in the end. Is he on to something?
This plan has been met with mixed results.
“Why would anyone outside of Hollywood be upset if he found a way to beat the studios at their own game? But the idea that what Smith is trying to do is somehow applicable to small, independent filmmakers is complete nonsense.” Screen Junkies
“Amidst your overlong monologue of self-gratification, you mentioned that instead of having the studios pay to release your film, you were going to have us, the audience, pay you out of our pockets to fund it. Then, in passing, you quickly alluded to a crucial financial figure; for this ‘privilege’ of seeing your flick, we’d each have to pay “six, seven, ten times the price of a normal movie ticket”. (Pre-sale pricing released today confirms ticketing starts at $68.25 for nosebleeds, up to $142.70) You then defended this by adding that you’d follow the screening with a Q&A. What fanboy should (or could) drop that kind of coin to see a film? And now the question that must be asked…would Dante or Randal be able to afford that?” Joblo
Personally, I think HE can pull it off but I’m not entirely sure how that will translate to filmmakers like me who don’t have 1.7 million followers to draw attention to our films.
In all honesty, I think it’s a great idea. I think if it works it will open a lot of doors for him. What he is doing is creating an alternative to the studio system. Can you make a movie without spending ridiculous amounts of money on marketing?
I think it depends on who you ask. Take Christopher Nolan’s Inception. That movie received a ton of marketing cash in addition to the $160 million dollar production budget. The film went on to make more than $800 million world wide. (Boxofficemojo)
Will he ever see those kinds of numbers with his new strategy? Does it even matter? Again, it depends on who you ask. Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing how well Red State does. He is putting a lot on the line for his first Horror film.
If people do pay large amounts of money, is it because of the film or the Q&A that will follow? What if the film fails? Will his tour have a positive or negative effect once the film reaches theaters?
On the other hand, what if the plan works and he opens a few doors by creating a new distribution model. He could position himself to help and inspire a lot of filmmakers out there. Perhaps other people will follow his lead and start championing lower budget films as well. Perhaps indie filmmakers will be more willing to release their own films as well.
A lot of people complain about the lack of originality in Hollywood these days. Everything depends on the bottom line. Kevin Smith’s new adventure could lead to more and more originality on the big screen thanks to the visions of countless indie filmmakers out there that don’t have access to the studio distribution system. He’s potentially giving aspiring filmmakers another avenue to reach an audience.
I’m pretty pumped to see where this road leads. I hope the tour stops in Toronto eventually because I would definitely pay to see Red State before it’s proposed theatrical run in the fall.
“True independence isn’t making a film and selling it to some jack ass.”