Quality, Freedom, Money: Choose Two


People seem to want to believe that just freeing works is some magic recipe for success. It isn’t. But since people crave simple business models, I came up with one this morning:

Any Two = success

A very good (Quality) film can succeed if it is Free (Freedom) OR has a big promotional budget (Money). A Free film can succeed if it is very good (Quality) or, if it’s not so good, it has lots of paid promotion (Money, because if it’s not good people won’t promote it on their own initiative). A film with lots of Money will succeed if it’s good (Quality) or if it’s Free. Imagine how much further a crap film could go if it’s not only heavily advertised, but Free to share too.

With only one of these properties, a film is unlikely to succeed. If a film is very good but neither Free nor Moneyed, no one will hear about it and it won’t have a chance to become popular. A Free film that sucks won’t go far. A Moneyed film will garner attention only as long as it’s being promoted; once ad spending stops, audience attention goes away.

With all three of these elements, you’ll have a success the likes of which the world has never seen. Moneyed productions have yet to be Free, but maybe someday, for some reason, someone will pour tons of cash into promoting a Free, Quality production. Of course if it fails, that will be due to insufficient Quality, which can’t really be measured and for which no one wants to take responsibility. If someone wants to try this experiment with Sita Sings the Blues, which is already considered “good” and is forever “free,” be my guest!

Given the financial dire straits of the independent film industry, filmmakers should really be looking at Free, because they’re unlikely to have Money. And everyone, always, should be focused on Quality, no matter what business model they prefer. Except Quality is a mystery, and worrying about it does not lead to better Art. But if you happen to luck into some Quality, you know what to do now.


More examples: TMI?

OK my peeps, your feedback on the preceding post has been excellent. Here are 3 more images to compare and contrast:

talking heads no flowers.flaWhat’s happening here? Do we even need to put it into words?

talking heads 2

How about this? Does the addition of the flowers help, or hurt, or just make it different?

MemesInHistorySame idea, different rendering. This one has still more information – which might be confusing the point. It’s cuter, but it might be Too Much Information. Or maybe it’s Just Enough.

What do you think? The more I understand how you “read” these images, the better I’ll be able to “write” them. Big thanks to you.


How much hand?

I’m working on a new project – a book, or comic book, or illustrated book, or graphic something about free culture/free content. I’ll probably use a mix of styles and techniques, since that’s how I roll. But I’m trying to figure out the dominant one.  And the question is: hand drawing with ink on paper, or drawing directly into the ‘pooter using a vector drawing program (Flash)? Behold two approaches saying basically the same thing:


How Memes Reproduce

The image above was “drawn” with the Cintiq, directly into Flash. I like it because it keeps the focus on the idea and not on the humans.


Same idea, different technique. It’s much “warmer” and friendlier. But it draws you into the humans, more than the meme they’re sharing. Drawing humans like this, they each need genders, clothes, and other identifiers which are mostly irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. On the other hand, warmer drawings may attract more viewers, which is desirable, and may be sufficient for the idea anyway.

What do you think?

Update: per Richard O’Connor’s suggestion, a hybrid:


The problem with this is that the meme looks sterile, while the people look warm and alive. I’m trying to express that it’s the memes that are alive; that we humans are just their humble servants.




Sometimes I’m asked if I have any “advice” for the young’uns. I seem to give a different answer every time. Today’s answer is:


Stop taking advice and stop asking for it.

The world is unlimited! There are a zillion ways to do things. Don’t be afraid of doing things wrong. The only way we make progress is from trying things, and that means a lot of failure. I’ve been helped by other peoples’ failures – they show me what not to do, so I can learn from their mistakes – and I hope my failures help other people succeed too. So even failure is a social contribution, as long as you’re failing YOUR way. An authentic failure is worth 100 insincere successes.

Do it YOUR way, not my way.

Looking to others to tell you what to do and how to do it is a bad habit. You can learn a lot just by observing. Let your observations be your teachers. What people SAY is not the same as what they DO, so pay attention to what they DO and learn from that.

If there’s something you can’t learn from observing, do some research. If research still doesn’t answer your question, THEN ask for advice. If you go straight to asking for advice, and expecting your answers there, you will miss out on all kinds of observations and learning.

That is my advice.