Re: [Videolib] A meditation on indie vdeo pricing in an age of fiscal apocalypse

From: Jessica Rosner <maddux2014@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 08:04:25 PST

Hmm I wonder who that could have been Philip ?
However I think the pricing of "entertainment" films is a whole other issue.
Frankly I remain very pessimistic on what we often call "educational"
or "institutional " films. I understand and agree with the frustration re
unneeded public performance rights and multi tiered pricing but at the end
of the day small documentaries and the people who make and distribute them
are not going to sell enough copies at $30 to survive. If you are
Wiseman or PBS you might be able to sell thousands of copies to cover the
cost but beyond that not likely. In my fantasy public libraries would buy a
significant number of small documentaries just like they buy Disney and
Universities would buy them on a regular collections and not just by special
request. I am not holding my breath. If you an figure out a scenario where a
60 minute film on public health clinics in Houston or a
90 minute film on women's rights in Indonesia will sell a 1000 copies at $30
as oppossed to 100 at $300 I am sure both fillmmakers and distributors (
and folks who might like to see the stuff) would be thrilled but that does
not seem likely. It is ironic that is this age of increasing
media access many independent filmmakers and distributors are losing their
livelyhood and libraries have fewer choices about what they can make
available.

On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 10:36 AM, Hallman, Philip <phallman@umich.edu>wrote:

> Hello,
>
> Thanks Gary for articulating so well what we must all be feeling. I'd like
> to chime in, if I may, on a similar note. Yesterday one of the sales reps
> from the one of the few remaining film rental companies called to see why I
> had not been renting film prints for our film studies classes. During the
> conversation, I checked on the price of a public performance license for
> TOPKAPI which I thought I might suggest we show as part of a museum theme
> semester series that one of our colleges wants to do. The price is $325.00!
> That's why I have not been ordering prints. This is a 1964 film! Yes, it's
> a lot of fun and yes, it won an Academy Award for Peter Ustinov, but let's
> face it, it's not part of the film studies canon and it is a completely
> unknown film to the undergrad population. We'll be lucky to get 30 people
> to actually come and watch it. From a programmer's perspective it would be
> a great addition to the series and would be a good contrast to the
> documentaries with public performance rights that we already own and will
> most likely show. But by using a 1980's standard for pricing rentals, this
> company won't and shouldn't make a sale. I understand that the few
> remaining rental companies are struggling with all their might to survive,
> but not everything increases in value as it ages. This kind of pricing is
> ruining film exhibition on college campuses. I know we'll never return to
> the days when I was in college running a film society where we had five or
> six competing film groups showing 6-10 films a night and each one getting
> 300 and 400 people for a movie. But these rates don't even allow anyone to
> get into the game. It's really a shame but part of me wants this kind of
> greed to fail. It doesn't surprise me that people want to circumvent the
> legal system and try and show things without obtaining the proper licenses.
>
> And don't get me started on some of the companies that sell dvds with
> public performance rights who then want you to pay an additional amount if
> you plan to show it to more than 50 people....
>
> Philip Hallman
> Field Librarian
> University of Michigan
> Dept of Screen Arts & Cultures/Hatcher Graduate Library
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: videolib-bounces@lists.berkeley.edu [mailto:
> videolib-bounces@lists.berkeley.edu] On Behalf Of Moshiri, Farhad
> Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:59 AM
> To: videolib@lists.berkeley.edu
> Subject: Re: [Videolib] A meditation on indie vdeo pricing in an age of
> fiscal apocalypse
>
> Dear Gary,
>
> Kudos to you. Thank you for expressing my and I believe many other academic
> AV librarians' feelings. I've posted previously my concerns about the
> pricing of video recordings here. Most people think that Texas is doing well
> in this economic situation compare to your California. But my budget has
> also been cut drastically. I no longer can afford purchasing video
> recordings with high prices. Even our faculty understand this. They are now
> asking me now to find a feature film that touches on their subject matter to
> use instead of documentaries! I believe producers and distributors of
> educational documentaries are shooting their feet by keeping this high price
> rates. They should follow publishers such as First Run, PBS, etc. to offer
> home video pricing. Still I believe by selling more copies they can make it
> staying in the business.
>
> Farhad Moshiri
> AV Librarian
> University of the Incarnate Word
> San Antonio, TX
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: videolib-bounces@lists.berkeley.edu [mailto:
> videolib-bounces@lists.berkeley.edu] On Behalf Of
> ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
> Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 5:35 PM
> To: videolib@lists.berkeley.edu
> Subject: [Videolib] A meditation on indie vdeo pricing in an age of fiscal
> apocalypse
>
> Hi all
>
> I've been mulling over the spate of recent posts re tiered pricing, etc.
> Mulling and stewing (sorta sounds like holiday dinner, don't it?) In any
> case, I had a long and rambling post all ready to go yesterday, then
> pulled my punches, went home, had a drink, slept on it, and now I think
> I'm ready to put this out again for discussion.
>
> Over the course of the 25 years or so I've been doing this job, I've
> consistently stood firmly and vocally behind the pricing structures
> (including tiered pricing) of our friends in indie filmmaking and film
> distribution--the $200 to $400 sticker prices that have become common for
> the purchase of their wares by higher ed institutions. Like my colleagues
> in other libraries, I've paid these prices because, well, to quote Woody
> Allen, "We need the eggs." In other words, my colleagues and I have
> coughed up because: a) we understand the fiscal travails and the slim
> profits of indie film distribution b) we esteem the films being sold in
> this market and realize that diverse collections depend on the vitality of
> the makers and distributors of this stuff c) we've had budgets which, to a
> greater or lesser extent, have afforded us the luxury of buying non-mass
> marketed titles.
>
> Fast forward to 2009...Not to beat an already hemorrhaging horse, but, for
> those of us in higher ed, the woods are burning, and (to mix metaphors
> shamelessly) the center can no longer hold (things, in other words, are
> falling apart). My budget this year took a 25% cut; I no longer have a
> supplies and equipment budget of any kind (not to mention the fact that
> I've been furloughed for 21 days). We've been promised that next year
> will be even worse. Now, California is an extreme case (as always), but
> not totally unique, by any means. I think that most of my colleagues in
> academic libraries are in roughly the same position in terms of dwindling
> collection budgets...
>
> In this fiscal climate, it seems to me that survival on both the buyer and
> seller ends of things is going to require some serious rethinking of the
> pricing and marketing models that have been in place since the inception
> of home video technologies. The "all-the-particular-market-will-bear"
> strategy may very well be a coffin nail for indie distributors in the
> future.
>
> I have most definitely had to think twice about buying the kinds of stuff
> that I wouldn't have blinked about buying in the past...and, as much as it
> pains me to the quick to have to bargain shop, home video is looking more
> and more attractive. Again...I think we're definitely not in business as
> usual territory any longer, Toto. As stewards of strapped collection
> budgets, I think we're all forced to be more hard-nosed and realistic
> about the relative short- and long-term value of what we're buying for
> these collections.
>
> It occurs to me that a number of distributors I know out there have, in
> fact, recranked prices, sought out home video markets, tried other pricing
> structures. It's obvious to me, in any case, that historical models just
> don't cut it in a lot of ways. Is it justifiable to charge $300 for a
> title that's been in a distributor's catalog for 10 years...I personally
> think not. In this climate, am I justified in buying $300-a-pop materials
> "just in case" they may be used by teachers and scholars sometime down the
> road...I'm no longer sure. Can I continue to simply grin and bear the
> fact that public libraries are charged a third of what I pay, particularly
> when this pricing is built almost exclusively on the perception that I
> have the dough and they don't...well, no, I can't.
>
> I find it really odious to have to bring this stuff up. I am an enormous
> fan of the distributors that I deal with daily and want to see them live
> long and prosper... On the other hand...
>
>
> Gary Handman
> Director
> Media Resources Center
> Moffitt Library
> UC Berkeley
>
> 510-643-8566
> ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
> http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC
>
> "I have always preferred the reflection of life to life itself."
> --Francois Truffaut
>
>
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> VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues
> relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control,
> preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and
> related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective
> working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication
> between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and
> distributors.
>
> VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues
> relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control,
> preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and
> related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective
> working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication
> between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and
> distributors.
>

VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Wed Nov 11 08:04:46 2009

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