Monday, July 6, 2009

Laboratory Films shuts down

I received an email today saying that the first Laboratory Films production has been shut down. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to do some google searching and check for cached pages, since I think the "Pathfinder" (Twowan) for the production has done a remarkable, almost eerie, job of cleaning up after himself.

One part of his email motivated me to comment here:
If this production system does not require monetary capital, it does need great amounts of trust capital (goodwill). We need a massive amount of enthusiasm from a great number of artists right from day one. Being an unknown, whatever I do, I can never generate this amount of trust. Therefore, I would need a partner with an international filmmaking name who would bring credence to the enterprise.

I don't concur with this assessment. I avoided the project not because Twowan was an unknown, but because he worked so deliberately to keep himself (and the project) unknown. What I mean by this is that instead of making the work and himself and the project as visible as possible, it was kept secretive. The whole thing had a deceptive vibe surrounding it, when I think it needed more of a grass-roots, communal energy.

I would have voted for open, open, open. Put the work of the artists online, make it easy for people to see and get excited about the film. SHOW the progress and let the strength of the work do your recruiting for you.

But what about protecting intellectual property? Use an open source or CC license, even one of the most restrictive ones! This would allow for work to be posted publicly without fear. It would be foolish (and illegal) for someone or some corporation to take the work and then try to turn their own profit on it. And it would yell out trust rather than privacy and fear.

I watched the Laboratory Films project closely and with excitement. I'm sorry to see this iteration fail, but I hope there are future versions to observe and, possibly, contribute to.

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