Tom Ramcigam (magicmarmot) wrote,
Tom Ramcigam

After seeing a couple of low-budget (like really extremely low-budget shot-on-video direct-to-DVD) movies that have MPAA ratings screens on them, I was curious about what it takes to get an actual MPAA rating, so I went to the MPAA website to check.

If you've been following along, I am gratuitously involved in the independent film "community", and I enjoy the hell out of small low-budget productions even if they're not fantastic by Hollywood standards.

The MPAA is completely a wonk of the Hollywood studio system. 90% of the content of their website is rabidly about pirating of movies and what you can do to not be a pirate, including not making any copies whatsoever of any media that you have or showing DVDs to friends in your own home. Apparently having friends over for movie nights funds drug dealers and terrorists. And it hurts those hard-working studio people, from the execs down to the lowly grips and P.A.s (well, except for the writers), because they lose out on all that money that would have been made had all of those people who watched a pirated movie paid the full retail price for it each and every time.

Okay, here's the thing. I am against piracy in it's greed form, where somebody makes an organized effort to duplicate copyrighted materials and sell them for profit. I think that making ten copies of a DVD that you own and giving them out to friends is wrong because there are legitimate channels where you can purchase copies of the DVD and feed those ever-hungry distributors (though I'd much rather feed the filmmakers themselves).

But showing a DVD to a bunch of friends? I have actually purchased DVDs that I would not have otherwise because I saw the movie at a friend's house. And despite the DMCA, I would love for somebody to show how if I rip a DVD and store it on my hard drive so I can watch it on my own home network in any way takes away from a studio's bottom line, or takes that last scrap of leftover pizza crust out of the mouth of that P.A. in Fresno.

And let's not bring into the fray the much-touted writer's strike, which affects the below-the-line film industry workers a hell of a lot more than the claims of lost wages due to piracy. Yeah, the studios are really looking out for the little guy

I finally found the rate structure and submittal procedure for an MPAA rating, buried in the back somewhere out of the way: for a movie that is over 30 minutes long, the absolute minimum that it costs is $2000.00 for a screening, and their screening system is based around couriered delivery to their office. They will accept submittals by shipping, but it must be delivered the day prior to the scheduled screening.

Kindly suck my balls.

Look, if I was producing a movie that was actually destined for wider theatrical release, I'd actually consider an MPAA submission, because then it would make sense. In my eyes, that is the only reason to have an official MPAA rating on a movie, other than the possible soccer-mom-at-Blockbuster effect, and let's face it, the kind of movies that I make aren't really soccer-mom material. $2000 isn't exactly kitty feed, particularly at my budget level.

Personally, I like the concept that is being employed by such bands as Jagged Spiral (insert pimp mode here), where you can download their entire album for free, and you can make donations as you see fit. Toss a couple of bucks into the kitty as it were (though not an actual kitty, that would just be wrong).

I'd like to do DVD sales, as long as the logistics were easily handled, but include a copy clause that if you copy the DVD to give to someone else, you pass along a fiver to the filmmakers. Really, if you like a movie and you want to give copies to friends, wouldn't you feel that five bucks a pop is reasonable? Or at least something? Hell, if I shoot a movie for $15,000 and it makes back $15,001 then I'm more likely to make another one. At five bucks a pop, that's still 3000 copies plus a dollar tip from some generous soul.

And if you don't like the movie, why the hell would you pass it along? It's a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: the better the movie you make, the more likely you are to make your money back.

Okay, in that context, "better" is devoid of anything but subjective substance, but you know what I mean.

Then there are movie nights. Gather a bunch of friends to see some movies that you might like, that get spread through word-of-mouth. That seems like a fine way of getting more people interested, because unless you're planning a serious torture-fest, you're going to want to show movies that have at least some entertainment value. You don't want to show real dismal dreck (such as My Wife and My Dead Wife, Vamps 2: Blood Sisters, Ankle Biters, or any given Uwe Boll film).

(Note to self: dear ghod, the guys from Ankle Biters made more movies and got them distributed. And Uwe Boll has a freakin' laundry list of movies after Dungeon Seige Tale, four of which are complete, five in post-production, and two in pre-pro. Why does this blight of the silver screen still get money?)

Gah. Budgets suck ass.
Tags: filmmaking, fuckoff

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