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07.08.09

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Independents' Day Update

By Richard von Busack


AT THE END of the Alejandro Adams article ("Independents' Day," Cover Story, July 1) in last week's issue, I made a joke about the indie film scene being so overbooked it was hard to get an audience to watch people have sex. I should have talked directly to Tony Comstock, the successful director of seven tender documentaries on the way various types of people make love. Comstock has written a three-part piece titled "How Film Festivals and Distribution Deals Kill Independent Films" on his Comstockfilms.com blog (NSFW), which is absolutely required reading for indie-film watchers and makers.Via phone, Comstock says that he is deeply frustrated with the film-festival circuit: "It leaves you broke and desperate—the worst possible position to be in when a distributor comes." But he emphasizes that he has made a successful end run around this circuit, through the Internet and direct sales. His films go through multiple pressings on DVD. Comstock considers, as "indie production gods we should worship," Bruce Brown and Warren Miller, who hand-made their documentaries about surfing and skiing, respectively, four-walled (rented) theaters and used the profits to make more films.

Comstock is continuing to get recognition and make a living as an indie filmmaker. It wasn't my intention to insult Tony Comstock. My intention was to criticize a scene that's wearing down and bankrupting young talent.

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