A ‘Free’ Distribution Case Study: Sita Sings The Blues

Here’s me presenting the latest Sita Sings the Blues Free Distribution Report at Power to the Pixel‘s Cross-Media Film Forum in London, October 14. I was actually very sick, had a terrible sore throat, and had kept quiet all morning to save my voice for this. Apparently I did a good job compensating – hooray for performance adrenaline! But my throat hurts just looking at it.

Share/Bookmark

New Merch at the Merch Empire!

LaxmiShirtsLexiJumps640

Finally, the new Laxmi and Lexi T-shirts are here! In both men’s/unisex, and wymmyn’s “girly tee” styles. Also new: prints for just $15 (unsigned)!

SitaPrints_detail

Sita featured on YouTube’s front page today

Youtube_Oct.28_2009_detail

‘Cause it’s International Animation Day. The complete film is up in one giant, 82-minute piece, at questioncopyright’s youtube account. There are no ads in the film; we’re working on making the page ads go away too, since questioncopyright.org is a registered nonprofit.

The comments indicate that the film is now reaching an, uh, wider audience.

Sita at AFI Fest! Grauman’s Chinese Theater Nov. 3rd

475px-Grauman's_Chinese_Theatre,_by_Carol_Highsmith_fixed_&_straightened

Sita Sings the Blues is an official selection at LA’s American Film Institute festival! She’ll be screening in 35mm on a gigantic screen in the 1,100-seat Grauman’s Chinese Theater:

10:00am on Tuesday, Nov. 3
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
(big house on Hollywood Blvd., not Mann’s Chinese Six on 3rd floor H&H complex)
6925 Hollywood Blvd., LA, CA 90028

Parking at Hollywood & Highland complex
Enter on Highland at East side or Orange at West side

Thanks, AFI!

Nina Speaks!

I can now be rented for talks, workshops and consulting.

ninaportrait8640.jpg
Above: saying something inspiring, like “Culture is Free!”

Writing down rates for myself reminded me of this old Nina’s Adventures cartoon.

CORRECTION

 correction

Dear Journalists,

Some of you are writing that I was forced to choose the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license because the film is violating copyright. That is completely untrue, but has become the dominant motif of stories I read about the project. The confusion is understandable, so I attempt to sort it out below.

Sita Sings the Blues is 100% legal. I am free to release it commercially, which is why the film is gaining a number of commercial distributors in addition to its free sharing/audience distribution, which is also legal, and wonderful.

Sita Sings the Blues is in complete compliance with copyright regulations. I was forced to pay $50,000 in license fees and another $20,000 in legal costs to make it so. That is why I am in debt.  My compliance with copyright law is by no means an endorsement of it. Being $70,000 in the hole reminds me daily what an ass the law is. The film is legal, and that legality gives me a higher moral ground to stamp my feet upon as I denounce the failure that is copyright.

Having paid these extortionate fees, I could have gone with conventional distribution, and was invited to. I chose to free the film because I could see that would be most beneficial to me, my film, and culture at large. A CC-SA license does not absolve a creator of compliance with copyright law. The law could have sent me to prison for non-commercial copyright infringement. I was forced to borrow $70,000 to decriminalize my film, regardless of how I chose to release it.

Note that in some ways the film is not, and never will be free. For each disc sold, distributors must pay $1.65 to these faceless money sinks.  Transaction costs raise that amount to about $2.00 per disc. That is why my own Artist’s Edition is limited to 4,999 copies. I’ve already bled $50,000 into their vampiric maws; I have no intention of paying more.

Thank you for your attention.

Love,

–Nina

Sita DVD Release Party

Celebrate FilmKaravan‘s new Creator Endorsed distribution* of the Sita Sings the Blues DVD!

When: Tuesday, July 28, 6:30-8:30 PM
Where: Interieurs | 151 Franklin Street between Hudson & Varick (map)
Entry Fee: $15* Cash/Check @ door (all proceeds go towards the SSB distribution campaign)
*Includes OPEN BAR, Kebabs and a free SSB DVD ($19.99 value)

RSVP to info@filmkaravan.com or payal1202@gmail.com by Friday July 24, 2009

More info on facebook

I will be there, along with some original paintings from the film, and prints, and other merch including brand new “Hanuman” cloisonne pins, not yet available anywhere else!

51mtio5anll_sl500_aa240_.jpgdfhxjjvr_86hk8vmvhg_b.jpeg

Continue reading Sita DVD Release Party

July Media Roundup

Screen Daily quotes me in this article about indies and “piracy.” Fortunately I come off as a voice of reason in a world gone mad (to me at least). Don’t believe the MPAA’s lies; they don’t have the interests of small independent filmmakers at heart, that’s for sure.

The Morning News runs a nice short interview of moi.

July’s United Airlines “Hemispheres” in-flight magazine

Far Eastern Economic Review: Salil Tripathi’s October 2008 article about “Sita” finally viewable without an exorbitant subscription fee.

Radio: I was interviewed for NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge. Starts at about 13:30.

New Director Photos

Dang I’ve needed new “official” photos for a long time. Luckily my best friend Ian Akin is in town, and we were able to visit my friend Seema’s house in Long Beach Saturday, and Ian took some swell pictures.

ninaportrait4640.jpg

More here.

To the Best of Our Knowledge

A segment on Sita Sings the Blues on NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge, starting around 13:30.

Sita comes “home”

Sita Sings the Blues is going to screen in Trivandrum, Kerala, at the 2nd International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.

Kairali Theatre on  20/06/09 at 6.15 pm

I couldn’t find an official web site, but there’s a blog about the festival here.

I was living in Trivandrum when I read my first Ramayana, and started drawing characters from it, which eventually became Sita Sings the Blues. I won’t be attending this festival, but I’m thrilled Sita will.

SITA SINGS THE BLUES MERCHANDISE EMPIRE

sita_ad_120×90fla.jpg  sita_ad_234×60.jpg  sita_ad_125×125_fire.jpg  sita_ad_120×60.jpg  sita_ad_468×60.jpg

THE STORE IS LIVE AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Finally you can buy DVDs and T-Shirts. Hooray!

Re: Shirt Designs: We are taking pre-orders until Wednesday June 10, after which shirts go immediately into production. Shirts ordered before June 10 will ship June 17. To make sure the design you want comes into existence, please order it NOW.

BUY! BUY! BUY!

Love,

–Nina

P.S. Feel free to copy any of these standard-sized web ads here.

sita_ad_160×600.jpg  sita_ad_120×240.jpg  sita_ad_125×125fla.jpg


Sita on 35mm RIGHT NOW in San Francisco

Come see Sita tonight! On 35mm! She’s a having multi-day theatrical run right now in San Francisco (Red Vic Theater).

Also on digibeta in Vancouver (VanCity Theater). Support your local cinema!

Click here to find lots more Sita screenings.

WE’RE NUMBER THREE!

Or so says the Critical Consensus (for now – Sita has a teensy review sample size).

UPDATE: April 12 says we’re number TWO.

UPDATE UPDATE: April 28 says we’re NUMBER ONE. Unbelievable.

Sita DVD announcement list

We’re almost done authoring the Sita Sings the Blues DVD packaging and getting an order fulfillment service to ship it. Meanwhile, here’s something to do: sign up here with just your email address, and we’ll send you an mail with ordering information as soon as it’s ready.

Because the “content” is free – you can download it all online – what we’re actually selling is DVD packaging, not the film itself. This includes a nicely printed full color recycled cardstock “eco” case, and a silkscreened “pre-downloaded” DVD with the film and various features like subtitles, the trailer, and some video interviews of me ranting about copyright. The DVD is a nice package, a real object, and you can actually own it – it’ll still be there even if the internet (or your connection to it) disappears.

We’re planning two “Official” editions of the DVD packaging. The basic consumer version will be about $20:

cover_predownloaded_1.jpg

Then there’s the Artist’s Edition, which will be about $100. This will be a more elaborate package – 6 panels instead of 4 – numbered and signed by me. This edition will be limited to 4,999. Why 4,999? Because for every 5,000 DVDs sold, I have to make additional payments (beyond the $50,000 I have already paid) to the corporations that hold copyright monopolies on some of the music used in the film.  I don’t believe culture can be owned, and I’ve released my film under a free license to ensure that it can never be similarly trapped, but as long as the government enforces these monopolies, I must count DVDs.

Artist’s Edition

The cover art isn’t final but will be in a few days. I could use the “happy Sita” image on the artist’s edition, and the “artsy Sita” on the consumer version. Leave your suggestions now or forever hold your peace. Thanks!