Documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, whose “Jesus Camp” was nominated for an Oscar in 2006, are taking the courageous step of distributing their latest film, “Detropia,” on their own.
The film, a four-year look at Detroit’s recessionary struggles, had its premiere in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and when the distribution offers that came in were uninspired, Ewing and Grady decided to try the self-distribution path.
Whenever someone in the know talks about DIY distribution, they always focus on how prohibitive the time commitment is. The hard costs of prints and transportation are one thing, but not having an infrastructure to handle all of the logistical elements of distribution is the real hurdle. This is one roadblock that nonfiction filmmakers can typically handle that narrative filmmakers can’t since the demands and schedules of a documentary shoot are much less compressed. Ewing and Grady certainly think they can handle it.
The directors spoke earlier today with Tom Roston of PBS’s POV blog Doc Soup about the deliberations and motivations behind their decision. Here’s the money quote:
One reason we made the decision to leap into the unknown (to us) territory of DIY distribution was because we actually can. That is to say, there is a fantastic paradigm shift happening right now where artists and entrepreneurs of every stripe and color have an infrastructure taking shape where the barrier to entry is dissolving. With Kickstarter, Etsy, Metafilter, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other online outlets, individuals can workshop a concept, raise money and get the word out it in a direct to audience way that feels incredibly exciting.
Ewing and Grady (“The Boys of Baraka,” “12th & Delaware,” “Freakonomics”) also go into detail about the Kickstarter campaign they are using to try and raise $60,000 for a theatrical release, as well as how the rollout will fit with DVD and VOD and just how they plan to make it all work. Read the full interview here.