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Comment Re:I don't buy it (Score 1) 708

You are absolutely right that it is possible to make excellent movies for cheap. Statistically though, you are wrong.

Believe me, there are many *very* ingenious people out there trying to make good movies for as cheap as they can. The fact that they don't succeed as well as big studio movies is not because studios shut them down. Of course from time to time sometimes it is because the studios don't have the proper vision. But on average, statistically, it is because the movies that are independently produced generally aren't good, and once you've made a couple of narrative movies you will understand money has often a lot to do with it. It won't buy talent, but talent without the means won't work.

I'm not even talking big VFX stuff. People want entertainment that doesn't make them wince because sound is bad. Or a picture that is hard to get into because you keep being distracted by lighting discontinuities.

As to the "classics" that you emphasize, which supposedly cost less money back then, you are so wrong. In spite of all the hardships I mentioned, it is still a heck of a lot cheaper today to make an independent movie than it was back then.

Put those budgets in today's dollars: Casablanca, $15.2m in 1942 dollars = at least $162m of today's dollar according to Citizen Kane (a 1941 release) would cost more than $100m in today's dollars.

"The Wizard of Oz" cost more than $500 million in today's dollars. That is more than 3x as much as "Transformers" which you apparently despise but which a lot of people--and not just children--have actually enjoyed paying a ticket for (I am not one of them).

The amount of work put in those masterpieces required huge amounts of resources, because technology wasn't as good as it is now. Without studios willing to bet such huge amounts at the time you would most certainly not get to have enjoyed any of the classics.

Go make a movie, face an audience with it, and then we'll talk. Till then, show some respect to the people who work their asses off, and pay for your content.

Comment Re:I don't buy it (Score 1, Insightful) 708

If your taste is more towards the independent, you might want to consider this list of Sony Pictures Classics movies, which does include some pretty good stuff like "Capote", "City of Lost Children", "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", "House of Flying Daggers", "Kung Fu Hustle", "Persepolis", "Sweet and Lowdown", "The Fog of War", "The Triplets of Belleville", "Who Killed the Electric Car".

Whatever your taste, chances are the movies you've enjoyed in the past year -- legally or not -- include some film that was at least partly sponsored by a studio.

It's like confusing the right to make free software, which is good, and the right to warez, which is debatable.

As an independent producer myself, I know that people do not always realize the brutal amount of work required to make a movie. It doesn't all go to the stars. People work their ass off and deserve a pay. Take a documentary like Who Killed the Electric Car, which IMDB estimates to have cost circa $1m. I am ready to believe that estimate.

Equipment rental needs to be paid. Basic light & electric gear for a day: in the thousands of dollars. Not counting the trucks. Camera need to be rented. Most high-end camera need a technician who will get paid. Most film camera optics need an assistant camera to manually pull focus and that is a very difficult skill that gets paid for. You need someone to hold the boom and man, the cramps are not fun enough that a lot of people would want to do it for free. Some people will work for free on sets ("for the benefit of experience") but they do need to be fed because shooting a picture is more physical work than most slashdotters will ever get to doing in their comfy Aeron-chair bound lives. Think moving truckloads of heavy-duty lighting gear. You need people to push dollies, makeup artists, props, etc. and as soon as you add a person, you need to transport them, pay them, feed them, and with the complexity of the set you end up needing to pay somebody to manage the complexity of it all.

And that's just shoot. A competent editor will normally get paid $500 a day and post production can take months. Many take cuts to work on projects that they love, but at some point they have to put bread on the table as well. Sound edit, sound design, sound mix and color correction are steps that are crucial to the production value of a picture yet hardly anybody knows what they're about. They're hard to master and they're not very fun to make, since pretty much nobody notices. So you need to pay for that.

Then comes distribution. Let's not mention advertising. Prints need to be paid. Yes, prints that are projected are still physical prints and no, digital production is still a thing of the future for most movie exhibition companies. In an age of cheap DVDs, people don't realize the costs of printing. For a 90-min film, each roll you make for each theater that you exhibit in will run you at least $10k. If you thought going all-digital was going to save you money and you did all your movie in HD video, the day you want to show it in a real theater the first filmout is going to run you more than $1 a *frame*. 24 frames per second.

Let's put it this way, some guy comes to you and says he wants to make a documentary about the electric car. You don't know the guy. Says he needs a million bucks. I'm sure you wouldn't give him even one hundred bucks.

So blast the guy for movies you don't like, but the studio's got fucking balls for making movies like that, and I fucking hate it that the folks who enjoy all the stuff for free find solace in such self-justifying sophisms.

I do think region codes are stupid. I also think that Slashdotters truly do not understand the grueling amount of work and money required to make movies and that if content producers cannot expect a return, they simply will not make it.

Comment Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (Score 1) 686

[It's] nearly impossible to argue that free software is a detriment to society as a whole, because it drastically lowers the cost of doing other things with that software, thus creating wealth.
I agree with your point in general; but it only works when free software is used as a building block to "doing other things" that are productive and "create wealth".

I'm not so sure that this reasoning applies to games: what wealth can you create using Tetris as a building block?

I guess it could be argued that playing Tetris enhances one's ability to stack luggage in the trunk of a car, therefore enhancing the capacity and productivity of transportation infrastructure... but I'm not so sure that it would be more than very marginal...

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