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

Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 09:09:47 PST

I am buying the Wiseman film for $400. I have to admit that if they had
not advertised a home video price of $29.95, I probably would not have
balked so much. Isn't there any middle ground? I checked WorldCat to see
who and how many libraries own this particular film (Wiseman's
Hospital). It is less than a dozen. May I suggest that we are
potentially a good market but there would be more library sales if the
DVD cost $100-$150. I don't expect to pay just a nominal amount for a
documentary. I understand that they are costly to produce and have
limited audiences. But the filmmakers surely want to get the most
coverage and biggest audience they can, right?


We buy many titles in the $250-$300 range from places like Bullfrog,
Media Education Foundation, etc because of their quality and the fact
that our faculty want and use them. I even have ponied up for the
ultra-expensive corporate training videos (now there's a whole 'nother
story!) because our workforce development department can use them for
revenue generation or professional development right here on campus.
When a title is desired but rather esoteric and will be shown once or
twice a year to a classroom of 24 students, I cringe a little at the
multi-hundred $$ price.


Christine Crowley Godin

Dean of Learning Resources

Adjunct Faculty, Theatre

Northwest Vista College

3535 N. Ellison Dr.

San Antonio, TX 78251

210.486.4572 voice

210.486.4504 fax (new email as of Aug. 1, 2009)


[] On Behalf Of Jessica Rosner
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: [Videolib] A meditation on indie vdeo pricing in an age
offiscal apocalypse


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

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

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 <>


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



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Received on Wed Nov 11 09:10:14 2009

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