Why do so many people think documentary filmmakers should work for nothing?
We receive dozens of requests each year for free screenings and agree to more than we can realistically afford. But it’s amazing, the reactions of some of the people we turn down. Oh, the huffing and the puffing, the shock, the shock! Don’t we want more publicity for our films? They’re doing us a favour. How dare we be so so ungrateful? Or, we tell them we have to charge, and they never write back again. Ever.
One academic once expressed deep disappointment over our refusal to let her show Passabe for free, and then warned us about the damage we were doing to our own reputations. Erm, but universities are well endowed. Filmmakers constantly have to struggle to find funding.
Gotta thank Yee Peng, director of Diminishing Memories I and II, for saying it like it is. “Filmmakers,” she told the audience during her post-show Q&A at the SIFF, “are also human beings. We also have stomachs. We also need to eat. If you like our films, the best thing you can do for us, is to pay to see them. Otherwise how can we keep making films?”