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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

CHASING THE VIDEOMILLS

Last Friday as I prepared to leave work for the weekend, I got my line-up of films, docs, funny shorts and even goofy TV commercials ready for my wife and our weekend viewing.

Yes, I said my wife. The big EP found his one true love in life Patricia and tied the knot. I am happy as a jaybird.

As I drive home along LaSalle Ave south I lamented the death of Oak Street Cinema revival house and now, it seems, the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is going down with MFA. But, I guess, I am not too pained by the loss other than for nostalgic reasons. Frankly, there in my pocket on my iPod video I had four months of programming that I would never have gotten to see at Oak Street and Bell combined even if I'd gone every night and offered my $5 and suffered parking.

When I got home Patricia was excited with the prospect of viewing the newest episodes from the locally written, shot and produced CHASING WINDMILLS drama.

I had old and never before seen films. Old newsreel material from the National Archive in Washington D.C. as well as a 30 minute video from NASA on the Apollo 11 mission. I had a series of old funny off-beat TV commercials shot by our friends at Fallon. A mini-series sponsored by Doc Marten's about working people in London. And a series by a local couple Juan Antonio del Rosario and Cristina Cordova called CHASING WINDMILLS. I had movie trailers and all the short dramatic films nominated for the Academy Awards. Local, regional, national, and international films and video. Shorts, long form, documentary, animation and even archival history. I had a pilot for a new television show along with "behind-the scenes" materials for another.

The exciting development with internet delivered drama and documentary is that the bitstream levels the playing field, making it much easier and less expensive for local filmmakers to deliver their work to thousands, if not millions of eyeballs. And CHASING WINDMILLS is one of the most cutting edge productions in indie media making today.

What was impossible 10 and 20 years ago to view on any given weekend, is now not only possible but really easy. Alternative distribution has changed gears significantly and still the smoke has yet to clear on the directions we are heading. Going back five, ten and fifteen years in this community, we desperately hungered for alternatives to the mainstream distribution channels that delivered cheez-wiz rather than Taleggio or Parmigiano Reggiano.

Alternative content is now plentiful and in the period of a few short years our choices have changed radically. In 2004 and 05, the entire music industry was completely transformed by Napster, Garage Band, and the iPod and, despite the harsh and brutal threats by lawyers in Hollywood, the film industry walls of monopolistic control will fall and distribution will change also.

Digital distribution is a welcome development and a new age for independent filmmakers. Friends, get on board!

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