info I contact
advertising
editorial schedule
acknowledgements
join the realtime email list
become a friend of realtime on facebook
follow realtime on twitter
donate

magazine  archive  features  rt profiler  realtimedance  mediaartarchive

contents

  
Pixel Pirate II: Attack of the Astro Elvis Video Clone, video still, (2002-2006), Soda_Jerk with Sam Smith Pixel Pirate II: Attack of the Astro Elvis Video Clone, video still, (2002-2006), Soda_Jerk with Sam Smith
THE FINAL EVENT FOR CARRIAGEWORKS’ DESTINATION FILM FESTIVAL (DESTFEST) WAS A SCREENING OF ARIN CRUMLEY AND SUSAN BUICE’S FOUR EYED MONSTERS (2005) FOLLOWED BY A PANEL DISCUSSION WITH PRACTITIONERS AND COMMENTATORS FROM BOTH THE “YOLK AND FRINGE OF AUSTRALIA’S FILM INDUSTRY”, AS THE DESTFEST WEBSITE PUT IT. THE PANEL—ORGANISED BY FILM CRITIC, JOURNALIST AND DIRECTOR MEGAN SPENCER, THE FESTIVAL’S ORGANISER—WAS AN INTERROGATION OF “CYBER-BORN FILM”:

The revolution will be downloaded…It’s an exciting time in filmmaking right now. Using Four-Eyed Monsters as a starting point—the superb YouTube feature—our panel will explore how online and digital culture has revolutionised and challenged traditional means of production, distribution and exhibition. Has the internet made these conventional methods all but redundant? How? And where are things moving to?

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the day, I’ll explore what a “cyber-born film” is. Drawing on the pregnancy metaphor, I’ll pivot this discussion around two approaches: cyber-conceived and cyber-birthed films. I’ll start with cyber-birth, because although it is at the end of this metaphoric chronology, it is in fact the most accessible and pervasive concern.

A cyber-birthed film is one that regards new technologies (cyber) as a way to release (birth) a film to audiences. The panelists encouraged filmmakers to think outside the box when it comes to distribution and offered examples of DIY techniques. Bondi Tsunami director Rachel Lucas suggests mobile drive-ins (where you take your movie with screening equipment on the road), grassroots cinemas (where other people arrange a screening for you) and screenings in clubs. Dominique and Dan Angeloro of Soda_Jerk explained that because remix artists don’t own the works they remix, they cannot go through the normal channels of distribution. Instead, they champion approaches developed within art environments, such as encouraging audiences to burn and distribute DVDs themselves.

Rosemary Blight, producer of Clubland, recommends holding onto your domestic rights and making strategic decisions about the order of platform release. Blight warns that the contemporary approaches championed by those on the panel and elsewhere are antithetical to the traditional film models of copyright and marketing. Copyright, for instance, is usually given away, rendering the filmmaker powerless to leverage any cross-platform distribution strategies. Via Skype, Arin Crumley suggested options such as universal licenses. He wants to see a better environment where audiences can discover things naturally, without having to be told.

Another theme of the panel, and of many film events, is “cyber-conceived” film: film that doesn’t regard digital technology as something to be added later but is integrated into its production and/or message. Pixel Pirate, by Soda_Jerk (with Sam Smith) features an Elvis Clone battling Copyright Cops and MGM’s action heroes. The narrative is created from a collection of over 300 pirated film and music samples. Remixes have been a part of fringe cultures for a long time, but in the last few years in particular more filmmakers have either actively encouraged people to remix their works or have started remixing their own. Filmmakers who have recently provided their films for remixing by audiences include Canadian Bruce McDonald with his The Tracey Fragments (2007), American Darren Aronosfky, The Fountain (2006), and Lance Weiler, Head Trauma (2006). In these films, the story involves some form of repetition or is structured in a modular manner. In other words, the works have a remixable and replicable nature right down to story and style.

Four Eyed Monsters, Arin Crumley Four Eyed Monsters, Arin Crumley
So, a film can be transformed by other practitioners and by audiences. But what about production ‘outside’ this mutating creature? Blight lamented that the industry has been using the same marketing model for years: marketing every film the same way irrespective of content and target audiences. Websites, if created, are put up at the earliest a few months before a film is released. Crumley explained how Four Eyed Monsters took two years of promotion through numerous social networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube. Marketers in Australia, Blight continued, don’t think about the audience. Indeed, in addition to community building, this concern ripples all the way through to the film content websites. If what happens before and after, indeed around a film, is so important, why not treat them all as part of it? Currently, many Australian film websites provide only scant details such as theatrical release dates and cast and crew lists without any thought as to how the website can augment (both before and after) the experience of the film. Other media need not be thought of as distribution channels only…they can be part of an expanded canvas over which a story or message is expressed.

Yes, the revolution will be downloaded…but also remixed and expanded. What is also significant, though, is that the revolution will not be won with spears or cannon balls lobbed between industry and independents. This is where Spencer’s all-too-rare inclusive approach to the film festival format is important and timely. Neither industry nor independents have all the answers, both are exploring new ways that can benefit each. To quote Spencer, it is with the “goodwill, collective passion, diverse points of view, anarchy, ingenuity, madness, blithe energy, creative spirit and industriousness that are part and parcel of making movies” that new possibilities will emerge. None of which is possible, it should be noted, without the participation of audiences during these tectonic shifts.


Cyber-born film, Destination Film Festival, CarriageWorks, Sydney, Dec 8, 2007
www.destfest.com

RealTime issue #83 Feb-March 2008 pg. 22

© Christy Dena; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

Back to top