I've been having a lot of conversations about DVD and educational videos
these days because it may become a vital issue -- or quite honestly, not --
in the next few years. My concern mostly revolves around the independent
filmmakers and nonprofit distributors who may have many films and couldn't
possibly afford to put them all out on DVD.
In the next few years, more video stores and yes, institutions, will be
allotting more and more money to DVD and though the educational videos may
still sell, they will be selling fewer and fewer as the change occurs. When
16mm changed to VHS, many important titles were lost because original
materials couldn't be found or too costly to transfer. When I had a chat with
Debbie Zimmerman of Woman Make Movies, that was her concern too -- that the
handful of films she carries selling only a few copies a year (though as we
all know, may be the most valuable films) won't make the transition.
I've asked the people at the New York State Council on the Arts to consider a
special fund for filmmakers and nonprofit distributors for the transfer of
films to DVD and they are interested. At the same time, they had a very valid
point. What happens in five years if DVD is outmoded and everything is made
available through the internet for a fee? Thankfully the transfers they used
for DVD can be used for digital output for the internet, but the costs of
pressing and marketing DVDs will entirely be wasted. At the same time, most
video transfers can physically last many years, but after five or six, they
look murky and unfocused compared to new transfers using new machines. Also,
no one knows how long digital transfers will last or the machines to back
Please understand, companies like Milestone and Criterion and Kino will do
well with DVD and the upcoming future. I don't think there's a thing that
thrills commercial distributors more than a new technology to exploit. :-)
A concern for libraries now will be a whole new generation of films that
might be "lost" for lack of effort now. Do I have an answer? Not really,
since technology is moving at such a fast pace that no one can predict what
will happen. By next year all theater chains were supposed to be going
digital -- now most are bankrupt and probably won't want to put up the costs.
Internet? Most of the new shiny IPO companies that were going to sell access
to specialized features has gone bankrupt or may do so in the next year.
The only thing I can suggest is to call your state and local art agencies and
convince them of the need for "archival" distribution funds for filmmakers
and non-profits to ensure that these films will remain available.
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035