Fomenting the Revolution
It is hard to overcome the challenges of making films, especially in our current time. No one can deny that! There is progress in regard to gender and race and sexual orientation, but it is not perfect yet. But what has been added as a challenge is that budget have been dwindling with changing appetite for film and way of consumption. Sometimes it is hard to get up in the morning and keep going. Trust me! But then you find a newsletter and video in your inbox, which is inspires you and reminds you why it is worth to keep chipping away at the big mountain of creativity. I’m there with you and will keep on creating with #NoPermission
Thanks Bright Ideas!
Fomenting the Revolution
On August 14, 2013, six weeks after starting at Seed&Spark, I sent an email to our CEO, and BRIGHT IDEAS‘ future publisher, Emily Best. In it I laid out a patently insane idea: What if our fledgling startup, at a time when we hardly had the money to cover payroll, launched an aggressively independent print publication about American film?
“To build a community of innovators,” I posited, “we will profile the people innovating in accordance with our values. We will create genuinely cool, vital, and intelligent content, for and about the people we want to read our work—and with whom we want to work.”
When Harold Ross defined The New Yorker in his 1925 prospectus, he asserted that his magazine would “print facts that it will have to go behind the scenes to get, but it will not deal in scandal for the sake of scandal nor sensation for the sake of sensation.” In other words, The New Yorker would cover what its editors and writers felt deeply interested in investigating and its readers would read it, because, in short order, they would grow to trust the taste and ethics of the staff.
The strain of idealism Ross first articulated, and that I was parroting, flushes the cheeks and raises the pulse. But it also tends to empty bank accounts. Nonetheless, when Best responded to my email, she wrote: “I have reread this, like, four times—including out loud to my mom. Let’s do it!”
To a number of our investors, and even a few founding employees of the company, her enthusiasm smacked of impulsiveness. But what Best identified in my email that instilled in her the confidence to, quite literally, risk Seed&Spark to make a print magazine, was that we weren’t making a print magazine: we were launching a laboratory.
In the summer of 2013, less than a year after our site went live, we were only just coming to the realization that Seed&Spark was an independent film ecosystem. We already had empirical proof that our core competency, crowdfunding, provided diligent creators a path to financing. We had, in a sense, solved funding. But crowdfunding is only sustainable in the long term if filmmakers can hold onto and grow their crowd. To develop a true ecosystem, in which creators and audiences coexist and co-sustain, we somehow needed to test out, publicly and transparently, a series of wild ideas and approaches. If Seed&Spark was the factory, BRIGHT IDEAS needed to be the R&D department.
We’ve identified four primary obstacles plaguing creators: lack of funding, unavailability of transparent distribution, sexism, and racism. Over the next 10 months, we’re going to explore each of these obstructions, while profiling filmmakers who’ve found creative solutions to their problems.
In a truly sustainable independent film ecosystem—where filmmakers can access capital and audiences through crowdfunding, then distribute their films to those audiences without acquiescing their ownership—someone must constantly challenge the citizenry to stay ambitious and idealistic. If Seed&Spark is the great leveler of independent film, giving content creators the tools to build their careers without having to ask permission, BRIGHT IDEAS is the experimental laboratory hell bent on fomenting the revolution.
And if our integrity should remain above suspicion, you the filmmakers and audiences powering this new generation of diverse, fair, and brilliant storytelling, must keep us honest and demand of us an insoluble sincerity and transparency.
We’re taking this shit seriously, and we know you are, too.
“Art is the bullet of democracy, and the people the powder. But the press aims the gun.”
— Anastasio Sevilla
We went to Park City to ask the boldest filmmakers in America about the barriers in their way, and how they plan to smash through them.
In 2016, we invite you to stop asking permission, and start making shit.