And … Ultimately, There Is No Good Answer

Well, I think that I am going to give up on the issue of marketing my video work (and since that’s what I like to do best, I may just forget earning money for ANY of my artwork outside of that too). For the last few months I have been trying to figure out if there is a place for it somewhere, but in the back of my mind I have to reaffirm that what I find most valuable about this work is something that is personal, not commercial. And I’m very doubtful that it’s easy to find funding for work like that, and I’m ok with it, because I have an audience to share it with both in real life and virtually. This audience is international, it’s made of men and women of all ages in different walks of life, and I’m not beholden to anyone to earn their profit off me. What more do I need? So as long as I can afford my internet costs, I’ll be out there, and when I can’t, back to closet artist who only makes things for her family and some close friends.

As for accolades, they’re flattering but are not an incentive for me to do my work. I make my films because I need to, whether anyone is interested or not. So I’m not going to be seeking out honors, but if they come to me, like my inclusion in Studio 44’s 2017 Film Festival, I will be happy to receive them.

And, the rat race in any field has never been something I need to participate in to feel good about myself, plus the rat race for experimental work is particularly impossible to tolerate, because there are really very few lasting and tangible rewards for all the flailing. For me, compensation for hard work in the world at large means money –  so you’re going to keep up with the Jones’, have the goods to show for it! And if you really believe that your work is a worthwhile contribution (and I do), $5 for a rental and $10 for a purchase is really such an undervaluation – how can you equate what you do with the amount of a fancy cup of coffee at Starbucks? You can’t even see a movie for that amount in a theater. $10 to own? Perplexing. If I wouldn’t offer my skills in the real world job market for a high school summer job’s earnings in the 1980s, now WHY would I do that for anything that requires my good labor and my heart in it too? Have our earnings here in the U.S. (the non-million and billionares that is) kept pace with the cost of living? Hell no.

In short, I just don’t see any solution for marketing the kind of artwork I love best to make. I’ve researched intensely up and down, I did try to find some path. But I have to admit that through all this, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling of skepticism I’ve perceived about the commercial world’s regard of this field. I think the perception is that it’s probably the equivalent of kids selling lemonade on the street for pocket money. Maybe the kids’ ROI is even better? …

To end, here is an excerpt from an article which I read today – and mind you, this is in Europe (England), where experimental art has a different kind of reputation than it does in the U.S. (i.e., for Americans, it’s a $10 purchase):

While the cuts to funding are forcing change, it’s worth remembering that the landscape of experimental filmmaking has always been prone to shifts – partly as a result of the vagaries of funding, but also thanks to the dynamism of its practitioners, as well as changing public tastes.

Gillian Wearing, a 30-year veteran of UK experimental filmmaking, notes many dips and re-emergences, not just of artists’ film but also of documentary and animation. “The most important thing is that there is always experimentation going on,” she says, agreeing that this requires money as well as inquiring talents. But within the notion of experimentation is that of contingency, of people in uncertain circumstances working with what means they have. While some forms of experimental filmmaking struggle in the next few years and others thrive, it will make for an uneven, if varied, topography.

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