Considering Free (as in beer)

I can't say enough about Ross Pruden's blog A Curious Life, and in particular his article series One Million Screwdrivers. Go read all five entries. Then read the rest of the blog.

 Ross's philosophical exercises get to the heart of the reason the industrial studio model of movie production in the US is doomed. His extended reasoning and logical exercises lead to the inexorable conclusions that a.) "free" is merely another price and b.) it's probably the best price you can set for a work of media... but the conclusions hold firm regardless of model, "industrial" or "indy."

I started making my films available for "free" in the late 90's (when it was a lot harder to get it to work, and even harder to be sure that people would be able to watch!). I distinctly remember a moment at a film festival where a moderately well known pseudo-avant-garde filmmaker (who I will not mention because I think his work is awful) was publicly berating me for "giving my films away." In his mind, I was doing irreparable harm to him and to filmmaking in general by making it so that people would expect films to be free.

I knew it was bullshit, and that this guys was having a get-off-my-lawn moment with a young whippersnapper who was daring to try and impinge upon his God-given spotlight. But I didn't really know WHY it was bullshit, and didn't feel inclined to figure it out. My thanks to Ross Pruden for articulating it.