Friday, October 16, 2009

More Good News for Indies

More Good News for Indies
The sniping rages on between bloggers and print critics. The biggest winner: indie filmmakers.

Eugene Hernandez wrote a post this week for IndieWire titled Critcs (Still) Matter, breaking down the sniping between bloggers and traditional print critics.

The Basics
It's identical to the sniping between politcal bloggers and traditional print reporters. In fact, every subset of Media is having this exact same argument:

The traditional media (inaccurately) label the online guys 'amateurs' and accuse them of lacking intelligent criticism. The bloggers (accurately) label the traditional media 'dinosaurs,' and point to their diminishing audience as proof of their outdated approach to gatekeeping.

Where should Indies stand on this?
Traditional media- just like traditional distribution models- has been a giant iron roadblock to anything indie reaching an audience.
Every single indie filmmaker in the world should rejoice at the crumbling of traditional media. Period.
This explosion of online criticism is FANTASTIC for independent artists. The more divided the gatekeepers are, the more your film can pass through the gates. Think about it: Would you rather rely on one major review, or dozens of small reviews read and passed around by loyal readers?

Or, another version: Why would you, as an indie filmmaker, hand over the success of your film to a small handful of reviewers who have been entrenched in the studio releasing system for decades?

Everybody still wants a NY Times review, and it looks great on your poster or in your media book, but there is no correlation for a true indie film between a major review and generating an audience. This myopic view is similar to how indies view major festivals. But as powerful as those festivals are, why should they make or break your film?

And think about how many indies have found success without those fests, without the NY Times reviews, without "traditional" exposure? To go after traditional reviews exclusively, or to continue to treat them as the gatekeeper, is to give them too much power and to ignore your own.

Bottom Line
The game has changed. Indies can and must build their own audience. And the the explosion of online critics and film bloggers is a huge advantage to indies in this pursuit.
Like I wrote last week, the internet is the single greatest tool indies have ever had, and the more bloggers build their own audience, the more you can, too.

How can YOU take advantage of this?
1. Read film blogs: become a part of the audience. Bloggers are the future of film criticism. If you want to participate in the future of film, you need to know your contemporaries

2. Watch the films: bloggers' power will increase in proportion to the audience they can drive to a film, so go see the films they champion, and let people know why you went.

3. Reach out: ask if you can send your links, trailers and press releases. Every blog wants to receive material in different ways, so ask them how/if they want to receive your stuff. They may not always be interested, but I guarantee they will write you back sooner then the dinosaur at the NY Times ;)