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October 29, 2007

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jennifer venditti

Amen brother!!!

Arne Johnson

Good points all...I would just add that if all those industry folks think there's a doc depression and they're going to pull their money out, all the better for the rest of us. I can't help but think what could have been done on a grassroots level with even a 1/4 of what was probably spent on marketing the big docs this year. The smaller companies who can't afford to bid against the major minors are much better at doing the kind of release that would suit most of these docs. Crazy Love or My Kid Could Paint That might have never been multi-million dollar releases, but they could have reached deeper into the zeitgeist and made good money on less marketing costs with a smaller company. Not mentioned in either your article or the Variety pieces above is Shadow Distribution, our distributor, who quietly made more than $400,000 for Gypsy Caravan at number 8 on your list. Opened carefully and smartly with plenty of grassroots marketing, Gypsy Caravan never dominated the per-screen average, but just kept bringing in a nice amount of viewers.

Documentary filmmakers who are in this primarily for money will be disappointed as the $2 million dollar payday disappears, but the rest of us will be happy to be seen by more people and still make a modest sum. Frankly, the more industry folks and filmmakers who leave documentary because there's no money in it, the better. I think anyone who complains bitterly about getting 10,000 people to see their film in a theater (if there's a $100,000 box office), a number most doc-makers would've fainted over 10 years ago, then you're in the wrong business. Every time I go to a screening and one person comes up to me in tears or is moved to speak of their own experiences I feel my job is done. Anything else is gravy, and we need to remember that.

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