LEGENDS OF DIY
Caveh Zahedi has a blog up promoting his new film, I am a Sex Addict, which is opening from IFC Films next month. So far there’s been a lot of talk about porn star Rebecca Lord’s nipple (which would be pictured, but Blogger’s been having a problem uploading pictures, which is why photo placement on this blog is kind of erratic), but the blog is also prompting discussion of the efficacy of sef-distribution today. Zahedi, you’ll remember, was prepared to go the DIY route with his new I am a Sex Addict until IFC picked up the film following its winning Filmmaker’s “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” Gotham Award. In Filmmaker he even wrote:
The truth is that self-distribution is fun, and not only is it fun, it’s empowering. Which brings me to the heart of the matter: whether an outside distributor would do a “better” or a “worse” job releasing the film is immaterial. The real question is: why are we making films in the first place? The answer for me has something to do with wanting to humanize the world. Hegel teaches us that we make the world our own by altering it, by leaving our own imprint on it, by reshaping it in our own image. This is the crux of my argument for self-distribution. It’s less alienating. It’s more organic. And it’s more human.
Up on his blog today, he has further commentary on the whole acquisitions vs. DIY thing:
Well, I still agree with what I said, but it’s also true that having an established distribution company on your side is also fun, and is also arguably less alienating, more organic, and more human than doing it all yourself. Because while self-empowerment may be an asymptotic ideal (however eloquently Ralph Waldo Emerson may argue for it), we are all ultimately parts of a larger human community and the do-it-yourself ethos is ultimately a myth. No one makes a film alone, and no one distributes a film alone. And the truth of the matter is that I am thrilled to have IFC on my side, despite the inevitable frictions that any engagement with any other human being is bound to provoke. It’s all part of the give-and-take of human intercourse, and that is how we truly humanize the world.
Over at his Filmmaking for the Poor, filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake took a bit of umbrage at the “DIY is a myth” formulation and engages in some civilized repartee with Zahedi:
I do not think the DIY ethos is interpreted by any sane person as: a whole film made & distributed entirely by one person. However, in light of the following production & distribution structures: Hollywood & Indiewood, DIY filmmaking & distribution is a real thing. I know because I am doing it right now with “Date Number One” and I’ve seen Jon Moritsugu, Todd Verow do it w/ many of their movies. DIY filmmaking & distro is: low budget film production & distribution where the filmmaker or a collection of filmmakers have the final say in all significant creative & business decisions regarding a project, and where the filmmaker(s) also physically do most or all of the production & distribution work. “Sex Addict” at this point is not DIY distribution according to that definition since IFC Films is a relatively wealthy (compared to most indie/DIY filmmakers) entity & one of the dominant companies in the US independent film industry. All that, not being DIY, does not however affect the quality of “Sex Addict”‘s achievements. It is an excellent film & I look forward to seeing it again. DIY is a process, and it is a valuable & useful process for many artists, and in America it has evolved, most recently, in the media making arenas, from ideas popularized by 80’s Hard Core punk bands (see the new doc “American Hardcore” for more on this). Bottom line, DIY is not a myth. See some proof here: http://www.wilddiner.com/. And here (look through for links, entries on Sarah Jacobson, Todd Verow, Jon Moritsugu & other DIY artists & organizations): http://www.filmmakingforthepoor.blogspot.com/.
In the music arena check out Dischord Records, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Asian Man Records for proof of the existence of DIY production & distribution.
Just because you are very aware of the existence of indiewood, that does not mean DIY does not exist.
Meanwhile, check out the film’s trailer here.