my next project

I’m finally ready to start my next project. It will be about freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and current threats to those traditions, especially our corrupted copyright system. As with Sita before it, “I’ve got a song in my heart and it’s gotta get out.” Also as with Sita before it, I have no idea at this point exactly what I’m going to make or how I’m going to make it, but I know it’s gotta be made.

Will it be another feature film? Or will it be a series of shorts, or a comic book? Whatever its form, I’m thinking it should be free by design. The problem with feature films is they’re still distributed through an old business model that runs counter to freedom of expression. It doesn’t have to be this way forever, but right now bad laws, media consolidation, and “gatekeepers” make the film world work against cultural progress. And I’m all about cultural progress, just like the US constitution:

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”(link)

Unlike Sita before it, I am beginning from a place of financial ruin; I am broke and in debt. But I still have my computer, and I have as much time as the project needs. I do need a way to stay alive though. I need money, but NOT through suppressing speech or restricting access to my work, which doesn’t make money anyway. Suggestions? I could:

– ask for donations here
– partner with existing free speech organizations

If the latter, who can help? Where do they get money? Anyone want to partner up with me?

The copyright system has certainly failed me as a means to extract money from my art. Perhaps the old patronage system will work better, especially if distributed over thousands of supporters. Or maybe we should try this? What do you think?


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

4 thoughts on “my next project”

  1. @Nina

    W..e..l..l.. As this is THE time of year for “hands out”, not counting County-city-school taxes in January and IRS in April, I have given thought wondering how much of my yearly surplus I like to give away for the things I’d like to see stick around. Things only “flourish” if I give my own time. So lets just talk about “stick around”.

    I know of no sensible way of deciding on how much to hand out… And once I decide (usually by default and impulse giving) how do I divide it up? I know I care more about somethings than others, but I truly hate going with the “squeaky wheel” approach.

    I do know that through a mixture of 1) delayed gratification, 2) I don’t need anybody, and 3) a modicum of lack of self esteem, that I give less to those things which I perceive as entertainment for me.

    What I like about your cartooning is the social commentary and self realization. I have never seen your movie (it hasn’t come to Austin, TX) and I am skeptical about this latest idea of yours, but I’m not an artist.

    Watching you over all these years I have a desire to help you get along, but am embarressed to say it would be about $50/year.

    If you are really keeping any sort of tally, then put that amount down as a yearly promise. I pay less than that to a cartoonist that generates a 3 panel, color, daily (7 days a week). So it may not seem like a lot, but relative to the reality of my other gifts, it is significant.

    Our family grosses $50K. You’d need 1000 donors of my caliber to get along at our level in Austin. Off the cuff I would expect you could get 150 people willing to offer something… not near enough if they are like me. But, heck, if I’m off by a factor of 10, then you will do fine.

    Good luck with putting some things together.

  2. This just came to me. You’ve had all these extraordinary experiences, right? I mean everything from being on a reality show to being invited to dinner by bedbugs. And you’ve got these great drawing skills and a terrific sense of humor, right? Why not make a weekly cartoon about your life? You could call it… wait, it’s coming to me… I know, Nina’s Adventures!

    I know, I know, comics don’t pay the bills, and anyway you’ve found other ways to express those songs that live in your heart. But I do miss Nina’s Adventures, which will always have a place in my heart.

    Best wishes in all you do,


  3. Jerry Pournelle, the sci-fi writer is attempting to go this route. He says he needs 1000 patrons X $100/yr to keep him in the style to which he would like to become accustomed and have some left for production expenses. This does not seem unreasonable for an artist with several million conventional sales, and I support a few others at about this rate… Speaking for myself however, I would want my product in pure digital form; there is no room in my life for hardcopy or drm.

  4. The number one rule is make it easy for people to give you money for your product, and when you’re offering it for free, let advertisers give you money for appropriate ads – ones you choose.

    Also, try a service like tunecore ( music video for shorts with music in them. They have a one time set up fee, and send it on to distributors like iTunes.

    I saw Site Sings The Blues in Singapore recently, and loved it. I’m glad you’re submitting it in film to art houses and trying to get it seen outside of the US, but why isn’t it also available for sale to individuals in digital?

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