Not so long ago, on a quiet Saturday afternoon, I decided to bypass traditional distribution and make Anatomy of a Love Seen available to everyone in the world with streaming capability at exactly the same time. Based on feedback from the lesbian community, the press, and anyone else who had an opinion, this was a great idea – forward thinking in fact. I didn’t want to give my rights to someone else to control for the next seven years, I wasn’t interested in the exclusionary practice of certain territories having to wait months to enjoy the film, and I just wanted to try something new and different. Was I right to think these things? Did I make the best decision for my film, the right decision for me?
I’ve begun to consider the direct distribution of Anatomy of a Love Seen to our community as a social experiment. Can I reach my audience without a distributor, and will our community use social media to spread the word to help get a film created just for them seen by as many people as possible? Will they be supportive? Does my audience, my very specific niche lesbian audience, understand that if they don’t help me get the word out that I may not be able to make any more films? Can I make that fact clear with my what is sure to be hundreds of posts and emails? I truly believe that what I do has value, which is why I feel that what I’m offering is a fair deal. A brand new film at a cost of $5 for a 72-hour rental period. Sounds fair, right?
A little background for those who’ve never really thought about it, and this is only my story – other filmmakers have their own, and you should find out about them if you enjoy their work. When creating a new film I give everything I’ve got for on average of one year – to be clear, that’s one year with no pay. It’s a tremendous investment of time and energy, and it takes a lot of faith in myself and my audience. It’s very easy to jump online these days and find free content, so it can be a challenge to consider paying $5 to watch a movie. My hope is that my audience begins to think of that $5 in a different way – when they buy my film they see it as a way to support me and what I’ve chosen to create. Each $5 says “yes, please make more films for us, yes we support you, yes, keep doing what you do”. In a perfect world I would be independently wealthy and not have to worry about such things, but like almost everyone else out there, I have to earn a living.
So here’s where the interactive part comes in – as part of my social experiment, I would very much like for everyone reading this post – everyone, please – to take just a moment to comment below. It can be anything relevant to this post – here are some examples: Have you rented Anatomy of a Love Seen, or not? If not, has reading this post made a difference in whether you will rent it? Do you typically rent films or look for free content? Have you ever thought about how indie filmmakers make a living? Have you ever thought of renting or buying a film as supporting the people who made it? Do you think it’s acceptable that I directly ask my audience for support in both renting the film and spreading the word? Your comments and conversation will be incredibly helpful in determining what I do next, and I look forward to being part of that conversation. Did I make the best decision? Let’s find out.
For ease of renting and sharing, here is the direct streaming link to Anatomy of a Love Seen: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/anatomyofaloveseen