Documentaries used by libraries
Tue, 3 Nov 1998 09:59:58 EST

Before we leave the string about pricing and use of acquired programs, this
comment from a small distributor. The life of the independent under-financed
filmmaker -- described recently as willing to leverage everything to get the
project done -- may not be the same as the concerns of the independent under-
financed distributor. Art is art and has its own passions. Business has its
passions too but it also obeys other rules. Scale and the passage of time are
two such implacable rules.

This company, Creative Arts Television, distributes documentaries in cinema
studies, dance, theater, fine art, photography, Japanese culture, the
development of the avant garde, and other cultural subjects that do not get
publicity from headline news. No hot topics here like slavery or going to the

But each title on our list is unusual and quite special so we know that for
each there will be a small, reliable and changing market out there that is
going to regard it as important and want to buy it. BUT: since no single
title is going to be any kind of a best seller, capable of financing the whole
operation, each has to pay its own way --which means costs of mastering,
duplication, packaging, storage, front office, etc. We charge accordingly and
we put a notice at the start of each tape that it is only for personal use or
classroom use and is not to be duplicated. When we are asked if it can be
used in other ways, such as one-time campus-wide television, we sometimes say
yes and we ask for an additional fee.

We are distributing to a slowly self-replenishing market of people who want to
see these programs. We couldn't stay in business if our titles were
duplicated, bicycled around, shown publically and then copied off air, etc. to
satisfy that market. Maybe a big company could shrug off losing some sales
and then flog the next best-seller, but not a small company.

Stephan Chodorov, Vice Pres.
Creative Arts Television