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in Filmmaking
on Apr 1, 2009

There are many reasons why the current recession is bad for films and filmmakers. Venture capital is drying up; lacking stock portfolio gains, individual investors don’t have the “mad money” that once fueled indie film production; and the entertainment conglomerates are cutting back by axing the specialty divisions that were the buyers for our films. However, there are reasons why which the recession may turn out to be a good thing for filmmakers, and some of these are the same reasons I just listed above. At the Steady Diet of Film blog, Erin Donovan posts, “Why the financial collapse is good for documentary film.” Some of her reasons are provocative, like number 1a: “venture capital removed from the financing process.” And here’s another that I liked:

4. Ken Burns is out of a job

No offense to the Emmy-winning documentarian who re-invented the slow pan of the still image, but the news that floundering auto giant General-Motors was ending their 22-year commitment to the film-maker signals great opportunity for film-makers down the food chain. Consider that Burns’s previous films (covering the subjects of Jazz, WW2, Baseball, the formation of the West and the Civil War) have a combined runtime of 76.5 hours and have been PBS staples for the last 20 years. After Burns’ six-part series on the national parks system airs this fall there will be an enormous gap in public television programming nationwide. Some of the larger PBS affiliates may respond by following in the steps of HBO Documentary and acquire more films from the festival circuits. Smaller affiliates may see this situation as an opportunity to work with more local filmmakers. Which brings us to my final point…

Over at the CineVegas blog, Chris Holland, author of Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers, picks up the theme with regards to narrative filmmakers. Here’s one good one of his:

1. In a down economy, barter is easier. This goes for everything from equipment rental to props to editing; when money is tight, service providers are more likely to trade services or alternative forms of payment. Equipment sitting on the shelf doesn’t help anyone, so this is the time to go to the local rental house with a discount proposition. Maybe you can offer them prominent credit placement on your popular series of webisodes – exposure which is more valuable during a recession. Some businesses will help you out in the hopes that when the economy does improve they can convert you into a paying customer.

For the eight more reasons, click on the two links above.

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