Friday, July 13, 2012

Desert Pete Saves The Future

“You gotta prime the pump, you must have faith and believe. You must give of yourself ‘fore you’re worthy to receive. Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face. Cool your feet. But leave a bottle full for others. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.” 

                                                                   --- The Kingston Trio

As long as any of us have been alive, show business has been dominated by large companies comprised of gate-keepers, bean-counters, marketing analysts and people skilled at both managing and fleecing artists.

On one level, that’s given us a lot of profitable popular entertainment. On several others, it has prevented artists from doing better work, robbed many of the fruits of their labors and deprived audiences of rewarding content.

A couple of days ago, a friend who’d seen “The Amazing Spiderman” gave me his two minute review; starting positive, gradually admitting it hadn’t been “all that” and ending with “Why’d they do a reboot so soon after the last one?”.

The answer to his question is easy –- because they knew it would earn a shitload of money. Whether or not the consumer felt equally rewarded was a lesser consideration, if considered at all.

Sequels and reboots have become have become staples in the movie world. And while, not that long ago, as many as a dozen new films were released each week, those numbers continue to decline as studio economics require minimized risk and access to the largest demographic as quickly as possible.

The opportunity to see something truly original is almost non-existent. Unless you make a personal commitment to the task.

Each time I start a new project, I don’t do the “smart” thing. I don’t assess the marketplace and figure out if there’s room for another “CSI” clone or “Twilight” lookalike.

I don’t root the shelves of comic book stores for what’s been overlooked or decode the best seller lists for a character type or story model that captures the zeitgeist.

The studios have armies of people already doing that. People with the connections and resources to pre-buy and then realize whatever the trend gurus predict will bring in the most cash in the shortest amount of time.

I only have me. So I write the movie I want to see.

The logical extension of that approach is that I should therefore put more of my leisure time budget into making sure the movies, TV, books and music I most want are available to me.

I can do that either by giving a corporate entity whatever it’s charging for two hours in a theatre, a CD worth of music or a tale sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard…


I can invest in somebody making the movie, music or story they’re passionate about and not only enjoy and own a piece of the end product, but make it available to everybody else as well.

Crowd-funding operations like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been around for some time. But as more and more people realize this is a way to achieving their dreams without giving away most (if not all) the product of that dream might earn, their impact of not only show business but the rest of our lives is increasing exponentially.

In the first 5 months of this year, Kickstarter alone saw $230 Million pledged to thousands of projects from films and music to health care products and infrastructure projects for cash strapped cities.

Publisher’s Weekly just announced that the company is the 2nd largest publisher of graphic novels. Meanwhile, 12 of the films screened at this year’s prestigious Tribeca Film Festival were crowd funded, as were 33 at SWSX.

Very quickly, the gap in the market left by studios abandoning production of all but tent pole blockbusters and teen driven date movies is being filled with all of the profits from those releases going to the filmmakers -- instead of the lawyers filmmakers used to hire to try and get an honest accounting from their studios.

This week, one of the 1980’s most successful bands, Def Leppard, locked in a dispute with Universal Music over what the music monolith would allow them to earn on digital downloads of their own music, released cover versions of their songs on iTunes, literally taking back what was theirs to begin with.

What we are seeing is the steady elimination of the middlemen and corporate systems which have controlled the lives and creative output of artists for generations. Those who never needed the gate-keepers and the bean-counters are rendering them irrelevant while reaching a vast audience with what they really want to say.

Therefore, we’re beginning a new weekly feature here at The Legion, offering up a project we feel is worthy of your participation. Something that might not ever see the light of day without your help.

First up: “No No. The Dock-umentary”.

The video below explains it all. They have until Monday to reach their funding goal. Help if you can. It’s a story a lot of people don’t know. And it’s also one many among those multi-tentacle, interwoven corporate interests would rather you didn’t see.

C’mon. Prime the Pump.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did read something about how the Spiderman remake was made because if the owners of the rights to the property hadn't of made something with it right now the rights would have reverted to their previous holder.

Now that, to me, explains a lot.

Your Regular Anonymous