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February 26, 2008


Agnes Varnum

I do get a little snitty when it comes to Moore, mainly because I think he's more of a grandstander than someone who gets in and rolls up his sleeves. I think your comments are right on target and in line with what I'd advocate for - getting together folks like yourself with experience and ideas to brainstorm. Did Moore, or will he, tap the community or just go off an do his own thing? We'll see. I didn't mean to throw cold water...

Britta Erickson

The Denver Film Society at the Starz FilmCenter has been doing DocNight on a once-monthly basis for the past two years. As an extension of a our film festival model, we always fly the DocNight filmmaker in, do outreach to interested groups and we always sell-out. The filmmakers always seem appreciative to connect with an audience outside of the festival circuit and make a few bucks. So, to be clear, I don't always agree with Mr. Moore, but I think this an idea worth exploring. And, if people are interested in starting a DocNight consortium, I'd happily participate in the planning.

Sean Farnel

There are several models for such a circuit around the world. In fact, my first job out of film school was running one, which started in Northern Ontario and became the Film Circuit, which now stretches across 100 cities/towns in Canada. Its run by the Toronto International Film Festival Group.

Concept is simple...centralized programing/booking and print traffic support run by TIFFG, working with local groups which market and manage the box office. They pay rental on cinema, 35% of Gross to distributor (or filmmaker). Local group does all the promotion, so have a stake in a successful event.

Most of the screenings take place on off nights in local cinemas, both commercial and independent. Groups (usually volunteers, or sub-committes of other arts activities in these towns) run weekly, bi-weekly or monthly events, depending on level of interest. Many of them also have annual mini-fests. Alot of these events are extremely well attended.

Its been running for about 15 years, and works. Emphasis here is on generating box office for Canadian films, and also supporting limited run films which are not getting to multiplexes in these smaller cities.

For docs there are similar models in Holland and Denmark, that I know of.

But...this is all, in a sense, subsidized by the charitable non-profit status of these organizations. I know these budgets well, and like festivals, it simply does not work as a for profit model.

AJ Schnack

As I'm about to take off for Columbia and True/False, I'm wondering whether it would make more sense to grow a network of micro-cinemas or alternate screening venues that are supportive of screening docs, rather than trying to convince the AMCs and Regals of this world into turning screen 14 into a doc-centric venue. Not to say the latter idea doesn't have value, nor that Doc nights like the ones Britta describes aren't great, but it might be a better, longer term solution for the health of doc distribution.

Sean's take on what they've done in Canada is particularly interesting, where they are lucky to have a non-profit element to the program. Perhaps it could be a model for Moore's program - but who would subsidize so that there are actually profits for the theatre and, potentially, the filmmakers?


I think it is clear that the current distribution model for documentaries is clearly broken.

This distribution model does not serve what the people want to see, but rather is designed to perpetuate the stranglehold major corporations have over distribution of key cultural content.

This same pattern is happening in other forms of cultural distribution as well, from music to books.

Moore's idea has obvious shortcomings. But as part of a collaborative process to take back the distribution of culture away from hordes of disinterested and myopic accountants, I celebrate it.


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