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July 31, 2008


Agnes Varnum

I'm not sure what your beef is beyond my reference to the current press about docs that is out there. Beyond the title of my piece, the article is meant to highlight positive doc biz. Like you, I don't think current press represents the majority of doc business, which often falls below the $1 million mark. Smaller distributors aren't getting recognized for the great runs they are having, mostly because some of their engagements fall into the "semi-theatrical" category, but for filmmakers who want to see their movie in a theater, I am arguing that is a false distinction to make. There is success to be found but it might not look exactly like it has in the past.

I wanted to highlight some of the strategies and partnerships that are leading to, for example, a 90-city run for Girls Rock!, to show that while it might not fall onto your top 15 list, by all accounts, it has been a good year for the film.


Personally, I thought the tone of the headline on Agnes' article was off the mark, but I thought the substance of the article was quite interesting. That the tone of Doc Doom (thank you Mark Gill) is still the order of the day, however, is apparent in John Anderson's column in the


NYT (see article by him on "Bottle Shock", now in filmmaker self distribution.)

I think that the thought process has to turn away from theatrical box office for most discussions. Theatrical box office does give you a good idea of how many people have seen the film in a theater ... they are reliable in that discussion. But in no other evaluation are they relevant -- in considering the films as creative works, in terms of supporting the career of the filmmaker, or in terms of judging overall a particular title's market value.

I post on the disconnect between box office and DVD sales in our blog. This relationship qualifies as "conventional wisdom" but it doesn't work. See my notes at blog.indiepixfilms.com ("Can Filmmakers Do It Themselves?").

I read Agnes' comments as suggesting that Docs really could be back and theaters would never know it! (Plus I liked the way she talked about "non-fiction" film. Now there's an idea!)


Bob, I don't think $25 dvds are gonna do it either.

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