When I do finally finish my short film “Stull” — the time is drawing nigh, I promise you, nigher and nigher — I’ll have to endure the necessary evil of narcissism. I say narcissism, because promotion of your content — unless it is attached to some issue with a built-in audience — relies upon self-promotion. And self-promotion is no good unless you enthusiastically believe in yourself. Your own biggest fan and all that.
It is with this philosophy jangling in my thoughts that I stumbled on Kevin Kelley’s review of the movie 800 CDs:
Part documentary and part how-to. A struggling musician uses his PC to produce his own album and winds up with a stack of 800 CDs in his apartment. Now what? How does he get anyone to buy them? He turns his camcorder on, and records his journey into music promotion and small time marketing. He tries flyers, bar gigs, street corner handouts. Eventually he goes to a seminar for indie music promotion, and for the rest of the documentary he records the results of following what he learns at the seminar. It’s a good crash course in Music Marketing 101, perfect for any indie band.
And by the sound of it, perfect for an indie filmmaker — with lessons for how to unload eight hundred DVDs.
I’d say that selling an album is much more like selling a short film that you wrote and directed. As for this movie itself — like most documentaries) — 800 CDs has the advantage of appealing to the built-in audience of would-be musicians who want to see what the trenches are like. (I’ve been aggressively marketed at both Ameoba on Sunset and Virgin in Union Square — thems the real hustlers.)
But either way, in the indie bubble part of the movie’s story is the filmmaker(s) journey — in life or just in making the film. I wish the media (me included) would let the work speak for itself more often. But if ‘making the movie’ wasn’t often more interesting than the resulting movie… well, I wouldn’t be writing this post about a movie I haven’t even seen.
Image of John Ott shot by Joel Metlen before a stern ArcLight guard could stop him.