Every year, the Slamdance Film Festival opens with the performance of a poem written by co-founder Dan Mirvish. This year, Dan looks at the VOD distribution phenomenon, exploring what this brave new technological world means for the independent filmmakers of today and tomorrow. For those of you stuck at home, unable to watch and enjoy the ever-energetic Dan deliver the poem in person, here’s the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival Opening Poem for your reading pleasure…
Analytic Black Hole
by Dan Mirvish
Last Fall in Toronto in a widely seen speech
It’s worth looking back now, I do beseech
From the Morris named William who’s on an Endeavor
Came an indie film agent whom I think is clever
With last name of Copland and first name of Liesl
She used powerpoint as a modern day easel
And so like a Cassandra who prophesied doom
A hush fell upon the Canadian room
We were excited last year for Video Demand On
It’s a topic she did quite a bit then expand on
VOD, it would save us! We were told, and we trusted
That the numbers made millions if they weren’t adjusted
On Netflix, on Amazon, and yes even on Hulu
With new viewers from Maine all the way to Honolulu
So much for projection, that ship has sailed
Theatrical is dead, that model has failed!
We’d rather use iPads that load like molasses
Or watch latest movies on our new Google glasses
We complained for so long about noisy crowds
But where are they now when film comes from the clouds
Alone in your bedroom, with no one behind you
Watching alone, is that what we’re resigned to?
But if this model works and we all make more money
Then that’s OK, the future looks sunny!
Everyone would watch movies on platforms transactional!
But when the math would come in, it looked more… subtractional
Say wait a minute, we said to distributors
Where’s the cash flow? Where are the contributors?
“It’s complicated now, so we rely on aggregators
But we couldn’t keep track, we became abdicators”
You see, there’s no numbers, no way to keep track
This system is silly, this model is whack
“Analytic Black Holes”!
She warned, she exhorted
Were not self-sustaining, could not be supported
You can’t know if there’s money, if you don’t know who’s watched,
And if there’s no money, then the system is botched.
Distribution is grim as a model financial
The evidence is there, more than circumstantial
To expect to make money on films that are indie
Is like trying to twerk in the age of the Lindy
But now I say to you, my fellow makers of stuff
Keep your pants on, not like Shia LeBeouf
Don’t worry about not having all this silly data
The death of VOD: an accompli that is fait-a
So who’ll see your movie? When all’s said and done?
Film festival audiences, that’s who, my son!
They’re still ongoing, and coming in droves
They see each fest as a film treasure trove.
If you’re smart, and you are, you’ve abandoned investors
You’re strictly Kickstarted, there’s nobody who pesters
So if no one makes money, so what, and don’t sweat it
You did it for fun, to write, shoot and edit
We’re artists, I tell you, with a capital A
It’s time we expect to be treated that way
Starving, yes, sure, but praised for our work
Like operas or painters, I say without smirk
So ignore the doomsayers, ignore volumetrics
Just marry well, someone say, in obstetrics
But if you must make a movie then at least name it well
Start with a letter that’s alphabetical
Because VOD, and I know this sounds horsie
Favors film titles that begin A, B or C
So I’ve got a suggestion, a money-winner for certain
If you’re lucky people will think it’s pervertin’
About a filmmaker, Hollywood takes its toll
Just bend over my friends, and call it
“Analytic Black Hole”
(Dan Mirvish’s award-winning film “Between Us” with Julia Stiles and Taye Diggs was released theatrically last year in over 50 cities after playing in 23 festivals in 7 countries. It’s available now on VOD, iTunes, DVD, hotel rooms, Showtime, Starz and The Movie Channel. He still has no idea how much money it’s made.)