Perhaps you read today's earlier guest post from Jacques. But did you realize that The Filmmakers' Alliance fundraising campaign closes today?! I hadn't, so I hadn't given until this morning. Jacques explains below some of the great needs that are within our reach to solve: curation, aggregation, & organization. Shall we seize the time?
Independent Film has been challenged of late. Perhaps it has always been challenged….and challenging. And perhaps that is a necessary aspect of the undoubtedly risky nature of Independent Film. But perhaps not. Perhaps those challenges could be alleviated somewhat if education was better integrated with experience, if funding was better integrated with worthy projects, if productions were better integrated with crews and resources, if good films were better integrated with distribution options and if, at the outset, potentially strong films were better integrated with fresh ideas and unique perspectives. I truly believe that can happen on the web with a single site employing a bit of curation, aggregation and organization.
First of all, curation. The stuff floating around the web that is really valuable to filmmakers needs to be found and selected - the best tools, apps, education and more. What is it that filmmakers need and what's the best incarnation of it? Communal editing space? Scroome. Film Festival submissions? Withoutabox. Virtual producer? Yet to be created. But something more than tools, apps and education needs to be found. We also need to find things that wrap all of that generic stuff into an ideological perspective that not only facilitates indie film viability but also the highest levels of creative ambition. What are the best blogs and forums? What kind of interface allows filmmakers to share ideas and perspectives? Someone or some group needs to act as a "trusted guide" for filmmakers - and not just a gatekeeper. Of course, there will also have to be community curation. Meaning, anything that exists on the site as a tool or resource should be open to review and feedback by users.
Secondly, aggregation. Once found and selected, all of this great stuff needs to be brought together. No one could possibly build from scratch or even recreate all of the great tools, apps and resources that exist for filmmakers out on the web. Instead, partnerships need to be created, which may also demand technological bridges to be built. The whole point is to avoid the needless hopping around from site to site, multiple logins and resource incompatibility that plagues filmmaking life on the internet at the current moment. But this is no easy task. Many sites charge fees for their tools/resources and/or jealously guard them for other reasons. They tend not to think holistically and instead stubbornly insist on trying to build communities around their single-purpose resource. So far, unless it is a indispensable resource without competition, such as Withoutabox, that approach has not served them. Hopefully, they can be made to see the wisdom in being part of a larger whole.
Thirdly, there is organization. You can't just throw stuff up on the internet randomly, although many sites seem to do it all the time, making finding things very difficult and efficient usage almost impossible. Ideally, resources, tools and apps can be organized intuitively for filmmakers - mirroring the process of production and/or film management. That means it all needs to be put together by a group that understands the way filmmakers - especially indie filmmakers - think and work.
Fortunately, there is an organization that can do all of that. Not only can do it, but will do it. Filmmakers Alliance has been hatching a plan to for years to create just such a space for filmmakers. We've met with all manner of resistance and challenge, and the plan has been scrapped and rebuilt several times over, but we're still surging forward. We currently have a Crowdfunding Campaign underway to help us push it through to a first stage launch. From there, it will evolve organically, driven by the participation of filmmakers/users. Our goal is to integrate the ongoing discussion about the state of indie film with the actual work. As discussed, we are building a site that is not just a tool, but a home for filmmakers - allowing them to not only access filmmaking and film management resources, but also exchange ideas and perspectives on filmmaking - all infused with a demand for creative ambition. We really want the community to challenge each other to take their films - and, subsequently, all of independent film - to the next level. The plan we have will facilitate it nicely with a lot of key partnerships and collaborative tools.
But why is any of this important? Simple. It will make filmmaking easier. There are many filmmaking orgs out there (along with various filmmaking sites), and they are there for a reason. Filmmakers need help. Lots of it. To this day, I get tons of calls and emails daily asking me for everything under the filmmaking sun. Clearly, filmmakers still need help educating themselves and accessing resources - anything from securing grants, to getting production insurance to finding good crews, to utilizing web marketing tools, to finding health insurance, etc. The easier we can make the filmmaking process, the faster we can move on to a conversation about the kinds of films we're making and how they can have a social and/or aesthetic impact on the world. And that conversation, too, will happen on the site.
A website is NOT going to save Independent Film, I'm told. Perhaps not in and of itself. Great independent filmmaking that is well-distributed will do that. But education, intelligent discourse, access to funding and resources, shared creativity and inspiration are all tools to help create those great, well-distributed independent films. And a site that provides and/or facilitates all of that will indeed do it's part to create an Independent Film renaissance. It can, at the very least, facilitate some necessary integration on all levels and bring a sense of cohesion to a very disintegrated community.
To see the crowdfunding campaign page, go HERE.
If you want a bit more detail about Filmmakers Alliance's new website, go HERE.
If you want to donate to the project, go HERE.
You can spread the word by going HERE.
Jacques Thelemaque is founder and president of Filmmakers Alliance - a filmmaking support collective in existence since 1993 through which hundreds of films have been made. He also makes films, his own and other people's, and is not ashamed of any of them.