The Digital Download

gazing at the digital video horizon

Archive for March 2009

Frantic, and Fanatic, for Fantasy

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“Watchmen” has made over $91 million since the film’s release this month. While many insiders debate the true dimensions of this box office hit, it does support this statement from Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers, “Whatever is coming out in the theaters, audiences are lining up to see it. Recession-era moviegoing is in full swing.”CLH1.CA.0e.0726.moore1.O.1

The opiate for the masses mentality is exactly what Alan Moore, mastermind creator of the original comic book, vehemently despises about Hollywood: “They take an idea, bowdlerize it, blow it up, make it infantile and spend $100 million to give people a brief escape from their boring and often demeaning lives at work. It’s obscene and it’s offensive. This is not the culture I signed up for. I’m sure I sound like Bobby Fischer talking about chess.”

Moore has a singular distaste for screen adaptations of his other works, and apparently has never viewed any of them, including “V for Vendetta,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and “From Hell.” In “The Mindscape of Alan Moore,” Moore illuminates his singular vision on graphic novels, magic, and his subversive transformation of the comic book medium into an extraordinary world where science, spirituality and society interlace. The man who passionately revolutionized comic books and ceaselessly champions the medium, over all celluloid substitutes, finally warms up to film, as documentary.

Written by nvdigital

March 30, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

SXSW 2009 Panel on the Future of DVDs and Digital

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picture-3 New Video Digital participated on a SXSW 2009 panel on future DVD prospects and the financial outlook for indie filmmakers in the digital market. The panel packed in bloggers, filmmakers and a smattering of distributors. Gary Huswit, director of Helvetica and this year’s SXSW hit Objectified, and fellow filmmaker and producer Morgan Spurlock headlined the panel, emceed by CinemaTech’s Scott Kirsner.

Huswit and Spurlock broke down the current actual potential for filmmakers in frank language, and Spurlock had the (literal) money quote that boomeranged around the blogosphere for a day or so:

If you’re looking to pay your rent [with digital distribution], not so much,” Spurlock offered. “But if you’re looking to pay your phone bill, you have a great chance.”

We’ve seen otherwise at New Video Digital. Notably, Huswit shared that he earned over $60,000 in digital royalties in just six months. Also remarkable, while Rick Allen, CEO of Snagfilms, sang the praises of free documentary film streams, he held back about Snagfilms’ subsequent announcement of plans to deliver docs to Hulu.

In the quest for the right mix of platforms, Cinetic’s Matt Dentler and New Video Digital’s Steve Savage debated two differing strategies: the first, “agnostic” approach, could be likened to throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks, and the second involves an analysis to “follow the money” – with Dentler advocating the first and Savage the second.

Perhaps only one thing is certain in this incredibly dynamic space: if the same panel were to convene just a few months from today, perspectives and understanding of the marketplace will have already shifted enormously. Certainly by SXSW 2010, we’ll have marked some interesting twists and turns. Perhaps by then Morgan Spurlock will be ready to talk about car payments.

Written by newvideogroup

March 22, 2009 at 12:55 am

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To lace up Nikes against a sea of troubles

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flowframe

World Water Day is March 22, 2009.

When Graham Bensinger interviewed ultra-marathoner Charlie Engle on ESPN.com, he asked how he is satisfied with work that others perceive as torturous.

“What is gratifying is being able to force myself to get up day after day and run. It sounds crazy to a lot of people, but it is the ultimate test in self torture with the ultimate goal of self-knowledge,” Charlie said.

According to Charlie’s website, his mission in life can be summed up in three simple words: DO SOMETHING NOW. Appropriately reminiscent of a certain ad campaign for sports footwear, Charlie’s motto suggests more altruism, as in – take control of all the bad news, and do one thing – because something is better than nothing, and now better than later.

This attitude is no doubt part of what attracted Matt Damon to the project “Running the Sahara,” and seems to summarize Damon’s approach to his own life. The doc, narrated by Damon, records Charlie and 2 more international ultramarathoners crossing 4300 miles, and six countries, in 111 days. The film also dovetails well with Mr. Damon’s non-profit H20 Africa, which shines a light on water supply issues in Africa.

Charlie’s team meets a child left alone in the desert for 24 hours while his father travels long miles for their store of water. In “Flow,” a preeminent doc on the topic of world water supply, poor villagers in South Africa pay more for a gallon of water than their wealthy city-dwelling neighbors miles away. (Flow is a wise acronym for “For the Love of Water.”) While presenting the clean water supply crisis in the US and worldwide, “Flow” chronicles instances of social conflict and unrest that erupt in reaction to water privatization, with South Africa as just one example.

On February 20, 2007 Charlie, Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin touched the Red Sea – completing their quest, and accomplishing something no human being had done before. It’s no surprise to learn that Charlie’s determination and strength got him through a dark era of drug and alcohol addictions. His ongoing quest is an example of the human ability to radically reverse course, by doing something now.

Here are some places to do just that: Project Concern International, WaterAid America, About World Water Day

“Running the Sahara” on iTunes // “Flow” on iTunes

Written by nvdigital

March 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm

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Reanimated Culture

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030609jszombieAs legions await the April Fools’ street date for the book, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and with two movie spin-offs – and, Natalie Portman? – ambling slowly but surely on the horizon, let us turn to the question of zombies, and why they are so very special to us.

Reanimated human corpses, as we know them in pop culture, reflect our deeply complicated psyche, philosophies, office life and even financial world. Born into our cultural conversation by George Romero as menacingly, even comically, slow and relentless monsters, they evolved to have superhuman speed and ability. Along the way, we have absorbed the subtle meanings of zombie identity and begun to understand why this particular form of monster is so lovable.

In Afro-Caribbean Vodou, the supposed origin of the pop culture zombie, they were helpless people controlled as laborers by a powerful sorcerer. As Paul Kruger rages this week against Bernanke’s denial of the existence of “zombie institutions” in the US, that definition strikes too close to home. In our current reality, AIG and countless institutions seem to be both the powerful sorcerers and brainwashed masses of a financial apocalypse.

Deep down, we know the truth- we’re all zombies at some point. The mockumentary “American Zombie” nails this affinity by interviewing the zombie next door. We learn about his daily struggles to get by and fit in, with little identity and no memory of the past. Following four high-functioning zombies as they live, date and work in the city of Los Angeles, zombies finally evolve once more – to become the sympathetic underdogs we know they can be.

American Zombie on iTunes: www.itunes.com/movies/americanzombie

Written by nvdigital

March 7, 2009 at 12:07 am

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The church of rock ‘n roll

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itunes_kurtandcourtenyhome3As yet another lauded filmmaker is lured by the mystique of Kurt Cobain, here’s a tidbit that may give you pause: Kurt Cobain would be 42 last week. Bono was recently quoted in the Mirror as saying,

“One of the things we like about rock’n’roll is the religiosity. And genuinely people do want you to die on a cross age 33, with a Jack Daniels in your hand.”

Perhaps Bono goes a bit far, but then again, lest we forget the supreme reverence for Kurt shared by almost every boy with a guitar in the 90s, a recent blogger on the Huffington Post checks in to dust off the shrine.

Bono’s word – religiosity – has been described as our continual awe at the unconditioned mystery. The mystery of this particular singer’s martyrdom is probed by director Nick Broomfield in the doc that was pulled from the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Kurt and Courtney. Broomfield circles a conspiracy theory, all the while resisting conclusions in his signature approach which has drawn criticism and praise. Courtney Love’s grudge-carrying ex-boyfriend and estranged father strut the stage, suggesting with flourish and bravado that Love might have had Cobain murdered. As Broomfield well knows, probing the mystery is more provocative than exposing the truth.

Kurt and Courtney on iTunes http://www.itunes.com/movies/kurtandcourtney

Happy birthday, Kurt. And here’s a couple party favors for those faithful- The Jesus Lizard will have a flash reunion in May. And just as saints’ birthdays are sacred, every icon must have relics.

Written by nvdigital

March 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm

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