First it was sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, then it was Kevin Smith taking Red State out into the wild on his own – but however you look at it, one thing is clear: the business of filmmaking is changing in lots of different ways. Gone are the days when studio releases ruled the world – it’s now entirely possible for fledgling auteurs to get their films out to the masses without dealing with the Hollywood system.
That’s great for the little guys just starting out, but what about established indie filmmakers who already have a following and require slightly larger budgets for their latest releases, though? Director Joe Swanberg has an idea and he’s testing it out – a subscription-based film service.
Swanberg, the director of such films as Hannah Takes the Stairs and LOL, is teaming up with indie label Factory 25 to test the waters by selling four films per year subscriptions to his fans for $100 a pop.
The director explains the motivation behind the idea as follows: “If I can find 1,000 people to pay $100 a year for four of my movies, I can keep making movies. This can be a sustainable way to make small challenging movies that don’t have to get into festivals and don’t need distributors.”
So, what do supporters get for their $100? They get Swanberg’s 2011 features Silver Bullets and Art History as well as upcoming 2012 releases The Zone and Privacy Setting. Along with each film comes a batch of extra goodies in the form of LPs, photo books, and countless other rarities the average Joe will never see. Honestly, if you’re a fan of Swanberg’s work, this sounds like an amazing deal – you not only get four films and collectible items, but you also have the satisfaction of knowing you helped a filmmaker fund more of his projects. It’s a win-win.
Plus, as Swanberg points out, it allows him to continue to work without worrying about compromising his vision for commercial considerations. “Part of what’s appealing to me is the removal of that critical infrastructure… let’s say [this releasing venture] goes well and we do this again next year knowing ahead of time that [we will pre-sell] 1,000 copies to people who like my movies — that will totally liberate me to do something without commercial thoughts in my head. The removal of the press attention and critical infrastucture is something I’m looking forward to.”
Great idea – we only hope that the liberating freedom of being able to make films without worrying about “commercial thoughts” doesn’t lead Swanberg down the path of pretentious and self-indulgent artsy filmmaking. If the director can stay on the right side of that equation, we think he might be on to something.
What do you guys think? Would you pay $100 for four films and oodles of rare extras from your favorite filmmaker? Weigh in below.