The first is that the analogy with books just doesn't cut it.
There's the huge discrepancy in the cost of production between the
two media. There's the fact that professors assign books to each
member of a class (boy, would video distributors love that kind of
order!) And finally few book patrons come into a library for a joint
book reading for their civic group, girl guides or whatever.
Second important point is that most distributors do not sell a video
to their customers, they license it. And we license videos for very
clearly defined uses. It's in everyone's interest that people should
read these licenses. They are not that different from computer
software licenses. You own the physical cassette, but your rights
to use the material on that cassette are limited to certain rights of
Obviously this becomes more and more important as we enter the
digital age, and producers and distributors struggle with the
question of how monies will be recouped if there is only a
need for one master copy in the whole world.
The answer it seems to me is some kind of payment based on the
number of uses. This becomes clear when you consider a television
sale. Of course we're going to charge based on the size of the
station. And really this is what is behind the whole public
performance issue, at least in the minds of the rights' holders. If
you need to get a certain amount of money back to recoup your
production costs, clearly you need to charge more to places which
serve lots of people.
So it is at root a question of fairness for us all. It doesn't
require enormous brain power to see that social issue documentaries
cannot compete pricewise with Hollywood hits, even though their
production costs are much lower.
Lowering our prices has brought down many companies already and with
them festivals and other outlets for important productions. So when
you talk to your distributor, let's keep the tone civil and pay a
price you can both live with. It's not a field that people enter to
I look forward to feedback.
Bullfrog Films (800) 543-FROG (3764)
PO Box 149 tel (610) 779-8226
Oley, PA 19547 fax (610) 370-1978
1-800-543-3764 email firstname.lastname@example.org