Film Gigging?! The Most Pretentious, Uninformed Nonsense I’ve Ever Read

How can someone talk about self-releasing a film without mentioning the internet?

Phillip Lefesi, fast becoming the leading commenter on my blog and a major pain in the ass, just directed me to the latest post on Ted Hope’s blog and I wish he’d quit it. He’s just doing it to get my goat, and he certainly knows which pasture she grazes in.

I’m delighted to report that it wasn’t Ted who penned this incredible drivel, but the fact that he allowed such stuff to be featured at all is in itself abominable.

The author of the post is a gentleman by the name of John Bradburn who is allegedly a lecturer and faculty member at Staffordshire University in England and attached to the Film Production Technology department. From his guest post, though, it would seem that Mr. Bradburn’s knowledge of technology ends somewhere prior to the introduction of the internet.

Film gigging, according to Mr. Bradburn, is the film version of music gigging, only, you know, with film instead of music. As some of you are aware, I’m vocally averse to snarkiness on these pages and I’ve gently admonished some contributors for their sarcastic tone. So I apologize to you and to John Bradburn for the tone of this post, but I simply can’t help it. (And ownership has its privileges.)

It’s just that nowhere in Mr. Bradburn’s 1,000-word-plus treatise does one find either the word "internet" or the phrase "streaming media." This from a man who is credited on Ted’s blog as a researcher in “new distribution models, digital film language and DIY aesthetics.”

DIY aesthetics?! Are you kidding? What pretentious tripe.

Mr. Bradburn, a filmmaker but clearly not a musician, compares “kids” who gig with filmmakers who distribute. Isn’t the correct comparison the distribution of music with the distribution of movies? Isn’t it the digital distribution of music on iTunes with the digital distribution of films on iTunes? Or streaming on Netflix? Or on a platform like The Auteurs or Gigantic Digital? (Hopefully Gigantic Digital is still live.) How, in a post about new models of film distribution, can a researcher and lecturer whose primary concentration is in technology and "DIY aesthetics" dismiss digital distribution to the point of completely ignoring it?

Mr. Bradburn believes that it is his duty and “ours” as a modern filmmaker to follow in the footsteps of the “DIY punk and hardcore music scene” of the 1980s. The 1980s! He plans to bicycle his “lo-fi” film hither and yon, from church basement to local tavern. “I’d even love to be invited to someone’s house and show it to a group of friends.” How quaint.

But Mr. Bradburn, we’ve learned from your post that the punks of the ’80s “looked at the technology and the audience and worked out a profitable cost structure.” Do you think it might serve us to look at the technology of the 21st century and perhaps base our distribution strategy and cost structure on that? Maybe hip ourselves to the technological revolution that’s occurred since the days when Bad Brains and Minor Threat rocked the kids at CBGB?

It’s this kind of bollocksed-up commentary by the likes of John "Mr. Chips" Bradburn (there I go again) – and often of Ted himself – that only serves to perpetuate the myth of independent film rather than propel independent film into its bright, very clearly lighted digital future online; a place where Bradburn can screen his film to potentially billions at once rather than to one lovely couple at a time over tea in Staffordshire.

Clearly, the streaming table is not fully set yet, but does that mean that you ignore the 800-pound streaming gorilla in the room? Wouldn’t you rather lead than pander?

Look at the comments associated with Bradburn’s post. No mention of the internet or streaming there, either, and no surprise. If you don’t try to raise the bar, if all you feed a person is junk food, you’re likely to get the same junk right back.

Let’s raise the bar.

Let’s light a smarter bulb and a brighter fire. (Sorry again for the snark.)