Are DVDs the wave of the future for independent filmmakers? Chris Gore at Filmthreat thinks so. And his piece in the newsletter this week is worth quoting in depth:

Independent film is currently at a crossroads. The former titans of the indie film world, the Miramaxes and the Artisans, have all but stopped taking risks. They have virtually stopped acquiring small movies from emerging

filmmakers. It’s times like these when we are all reminded that this is the film “business.” The Kevin Smiths of tomorrow are simply going undiscovered as their little $30,000 low-budget indies join the mass of what I call “Cine-Orphans” littering the landscape. Cine-Orphans are basically films without a home – movies without distribution.

There are struggling filmmakers all across the country so desperate to make a deal and see that their film reach the commercial marketplace either in theaters, on cable or on video and DVD, that they’ll give it away for practically nothing. They’re holding out for the best deal, but at a certain point, when it looks as if the film may never sell, it’s not even about breaking even or making a profit – it must become about the filmmaker’s ability to use the film as a stepping stone toward launching a career. While most indie filmmakers hold out hope that their film will play on the big screen, the chances are slim to none. And the harsh reality is that it has become increasingly difficult for independents to turn a profit in the theatrical distribution market. Even the major studios accept the fact that most of their pictures will lose money in the course of their theatrical runs. Marketing costs to take a film to thousands of screens are astronomical. But even lackluster theatrical performance of studio pictures helps when it comes to marketing the inevitable DVD and home video release. The multiplex is more often than not being looked on as mainly a way to promote and market the upcoming DVD. In fact, 2001 was the first year in which DVD sales eclipsed the total box office take of all films released to theaters. With this fact in mind, the time is ripe for a revolution in independent film. And the answer lies in three little letters? D-V-D. What most filmmakers don’t realize is that the power is truly in their hands.

Filmmakers are not only self-distributing their films on DVD or through small independent DVD labels, they’re seeing something they probably never expected —profits. This “DIY” or do-it-yourself approach to releasing a DVD is happening more and more frequently and with even greater success.

Manufacturing and authoring costs have finally become so cheap that practically anyone can become their own DVD distributor. With a run of 1,000 DVDs, an indie might pay $2.50 or less per unit including packaging. As filmmakers grow frustrated with uninspired distributors who lack vision, self-distribution or distribution through a small distributor is now a viable option. Selling those 1,000 DVDs through a web site could potentially net an indie an $18,000 profit. Not bad when most of these orphan films have budgets of under $100,000.

Read the rest of it here.