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Why The Hysteria?
By Ted Hope
The hysteria of the last six months in Indieville is built partially on our collective relunctance/slugishness to abandon an old model which has long been recognized as being inapplicable to most filmmakers work, but also out of the slow drip of the inevitable. For fifteen years we have all heard of the dawning of the new era when we will have instant crystal clear downloads of everything under the sun on every screen everywhere anytime. And we are waiting and waiting and waiting. And still waiting. The reality is the core audience could give a hoot about that future. They like the here and now just fine (and granted most are old and grey and bald like me — or two out of three). Reality check: the glorius future is still a long way away still: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2008/09/reports-of-dvd.html.
Have you wondered why though? Who’s keeping you pleasure at arm’s length? Did you know that in the last three years the US had dropped from 3rd to 16th in terms of internet penetration among countries. I just got back from Asia. South Korea has 80% Broadband penetration! Imagine what that could do for all of us.
We can’t drag our feet any longer. We are on the precipice. Truly. For the first time in our cultural history, we have the opportunity to truly have the culture we want — whatever it is, in it’s multi-headed truly glorious diversity. Once all filmmakers had to consider mass audiences. Now, if you reach them, you can create for niches, even niches that once never existed. It’s hard to even fathom what this means. But it’s also on the verge of being taken away from us. Truly. The phone companies, cable companies, the Hollywood Studios, and the MPAA have banded together to take away the first utility to promote democracy (and innovation, participation, and free speech). On Monday I got to speak up about The Key Issue In The Entire History Of Independent Film at IFP’s IFW Filmmaking 2.0 panel: NET NEUTRALITY. The theater was 33% full at best (ugh), and only six people in the audience said they knew what “Net Neutrality” meant (UGH!) It’s nothing to be embarassed about, but it is something to take action about. I am going to be writing more about it on my blog INFO WANTS TO BE FREE (one of my many, mind you… please check them all out), but you can get super clear info on it now from both SaveTheInternet.com and PublicKnowledge.org. On the panel with me was Art Brodsky from the latter entity, and I was completely impressed with him. Follow that blog, that man, that issue. We need to get active on this.
I should point out that the presidential candidates have incredibly different views on this subject. If you want to endorse the candidate that supports Net Neutrality — and thus by extension truly supports true independent film – click and give here. And if you are in NYC next Monday, you know where you should be (or will when you click there).