Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to Phnom Penh * Bogus, baby, bogus!

Hi--

Got back to Cambodia from the US earlier this month, and now we're starting to hit
our stride with a new fundraising effort, coming on the heels of receiving 501 (c) (3) fiscal sponsorship from the Media Alliance in Oakland, CA...not that the fundraising environment is that good these days ;)

Anyway, it was refreshing to be back in the US, actually, with a decent level of optimism due to the new Obama administration; was also nice to attend an participate in a world class, "A" level fest, the Florida Film Fest with our movie, "Vuth Learns to Rock", featuring Jun from Zeppelin Rock Cafe.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go see Jun over at Zep cafĂ©, we’re selling compilation discs for $4 a pop…the split is as follows: Jun $1, Me $1, Vuth $1, Studio (Camerado) $1.

Anyway, being in a pro exhibition environment for a while makes it all the more evident how problematic some outfits here in Cambodia are when it comes to screening movies without the copyright holder/s/filmmaker’s permission.


Along these lines, Metahouse proprietor Nico Mesterharm and staffer Lydia Parusol here in Phnom Penh continue to flaunt copyright and IP, routinely screening movies without securing permissions from the filmmakers or copyright holders.
Same thing so I hear with the Top Cat cinema in Sihanoukville who does it even more openly, charging money at the door for their "snagged" films.

“But they got good aircon!”


Anyway, not all movies shown at Metahouse are screened without the filmmaker/copyright holder's permission, but a number of them each month are, usually bigger profile movies or major docs sprinkled in amongst Metahouse’s otherwise legitimate selections.


I'd once asked Nico about this peculiar habit of his--he being a filmmaker and all who should probably know (and act) more diligently:


"I don't care", he said.

Nice one...guess that sums it up.


But when I spoke to the producers of "Taxi to the Dark Side" while I
was stateside (“Taxi” being a movie that had been screened recently at Metahouse) the staffer there explained that they do care, that she at least had no knowledge of a screening of their movie back in Phnom Penh.

She also said that the filmmakers and production company rely upon revenue from screening fees to recoup their production costs and to (~gasp~) make a living.

She indicated that they would make some effort to make an
adjustment for venues who could not afford a standard rental fee--**if those exhibitors would just bother to ask**

Too bad: it's doubtful the bigger movie distributors will take Cambodia
seriously as a territory until folks are more diligent about this...which in turn inhibits a strong film culture and film industry from being established here.

I’m also astonished at how otherwise decent, smart, and sophisticated folks in Cambodia tend to regard movies as a freebie, as a free sort of public service rendered by the producers of a movie for the benefit of anyone who wants to screen it.

These same folks understand that you have to pay for a dinner at Malis…but you have to pay to rent a movie for a public screening? It’s an alien concept.


In summary: when you see a movie at a legitimate cinema or art house, the proprietors of those venues have secured the permission to show those movies. This either means they 1) pay a rental fee to the producers in order to screen the movie for a number of showings or days, or 2) they have requested permission to screen for free, based on the fact that they’re an educational institution or non-profit, what have you.


By the way, while we’re at it, here’s how to have that big screen experience you crave, without screwing over the filmmaker or producers, and without giving Cambodia a bad rap in terms of its IP practices:


1) Find friends (if available)


2) Get projector, movie, movie-screen or white bed sheet


3) Find rooftop, big open space or equivalent


4) Watch movie


5) Avoid charging admission or selling concessions as a for-profit business. Drink beer, coffee, smoke, eat, etc, but don’t advertise and then sell concessions as a business strategy during your screening, because then you’re leeching off the copyright holder. Instead, have a BBQ where everyone brings something, etc.


6) Don’t list your specific screening on calendars, or as a public attraction or event [the main problem comes when you list the movie as an attraction which you seek to derive financial or other benefit from screening the movie without paying for or licensing it]

In a more developed industry, you would be cannibalizing the market share for that movie title from exhibitors who rented the title legitimately.


7) Have fun! Your own casual living room style screenings are almost universally considered “home use” screenings, and these are a kick-ass way to bring the big screen to your own living room/rooftop/party/etc without screwing over the copyright holder or producer.


8) *alternately: try contacting the producer or filmmaker first, see what they say. “Taxi to The Dark Side” wanted $400 at first to exhibit at CamboFest, but when they knew we were an emerging, grass-roots fest, they said they’d consider a lower screening fee…anyway, find the producer or distributor, Google search them, email them, fax them, maybe they'll cut you a deal.


In a nutshell: 1) Producer (studio or filmmaker) makes movie 2) Exhibitor rents movie from filmmaker or studio or authorized distributor for a fee 3) Exhibitor makes money from the screening, either via ticket prices, or concessions (popcorn, candy, etc) or both.


The tickets sold at the door are usually split in favor of the producer or studio; that is, a $10 ticket for a movie in the West is usually split $8 or $9 in favor of studio, with the remainder going to the exhibitor.


Q: So how does exhibitor make money if they only get $1 or $2 per ticket?


A: Popcorn. Nachos. Ju ju bees. Hot dogs. Exhibitor gets all the money from concessions. In fact, a major movie house is essentially a glorified concession-selling machine, with the movie being used only as an attraction to draw in a crowd.

As far as I know, Bophana and French Cultural Center are both bona-fide when it comes to securing permission to screen and exhibit their films. Even CamboFest, the indie movie festival we run out here (www.cambofest.com) secures the rights to every single movie we screen.


It does take more work to get filmmaker/copyright holder permission; it adds a significant administrative burden. But you can’t run a legitimate festival or venue without securing permission, without getting the rights. If you do, maybe no one will mention it, maybe no one will actually intervene to stop you (at least out here in Cambodia, at least today)

But let’s be clear about things: if you don’t get permissions from the copyright holders, you’re not operating legitimately. Would you show a photographer’s work and sell those photos without their knowing about it? It’s absurd, no legitimate gallery would act that way.

As a corollary, to the above, it’s odd in my view that so many of the expats
who are here in Cambodia--many of whom are presumably here to further various issues including the reduction of corruption--actively attend bogus screenings without stopping to consider the impact on the movie industry and media sector here.

“But they play such great movies—they have such great cinema!”

Yea, a lot of the movies they play are strong films, and it’s true, many are presented with the filmmakers’ OK (and some even with the filmmaker attending, which is great). But why not screen all the movies legitimately? Do the footwork, send out the faxes and emails. Haggle with the producers.


If you can’t get a break, and if you can’t afford to pay the fee, then ask your supporters to help; and if that fails, well…then don’t screen the movie. No one’s got a gun to your head saying: “Screen Apocalypse Now, no matter what, right now, or you will die…”

“But this is Cambodia--”


We’re tired of that lame-ass excuse, we’re sick of it. That’s disrespectful to your host country…whether they’re developing or not, corrupt or not, they’re still the host and you are a guest, not a king or chieftan. Would you deal drugs out of your friend’s house? (Maybe you would, I don’t know…)


“But they don’t charge an admission”


They sell drinks, right? And other concessions or food? Then they’re making money off those movies. That’s where most legitimate movie houses make their money, by the way, off the concessions, not the box office.


“But I want to see movies on the big screen—there’s no where else to see movies in Phnom Penh.”


See my instructions, above, on how to set up your own big screen, IP-friendly screenings. Trade DVDs with other neighborhood rooftop/living room screenings to expand your range of available titles.


“But I can’t afford to pay lots of money to screen a movie.”


Well…if you’re trying to be a legitimate venue, and you’re printing up a calendar and advertising your movie events as an attraction, and you're getting investors or foundational support for your operation, then you have to get permission to screen those movies--or you’re not legitimate, it’s that simple.


I’m always amazed that donors with a vested interest in Cambodia actually willfully sponsor and promote venues who indulge in bogus screenings; it’s as if they’re saying: “well, we care about Cambodia, but we don’t care that much…not enough to set an example of good IP practices. And certainly not so much as to risk any of our comforts!”


Obviously, this issue is something that I feel strongly about, and I’ve taken a lot of heat for it. I just want to see as many legitimate movie screenings as possible, where everyone—including the filmmaker/copyright holder—benefits.

I don’t see why this is such an alien or even undesirable concept, even in Cambodia.
Cambodia is my home for now, and has been for nearly five years. It’s a country that took me in and offered a lot of opportunity and a lot of new perspectives.

Above all, I respect the country as my host, bad driving and all. Conversely, I dislike the hypocrisy behind these problematic aspects of movie exhibition here (call it my vise or luxury), to the point that I may risk the ire of the well-known Expat Rumor Mill by bringing these things to light.


But then again—I don’t care!


Good to be back,

J “J” R

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CAMERADO Contributors Page

Welcome to the
Camerado Contributor's Page!



Camerado is an innovative, grass roots media production and consultation group located in SE Asia (in Cambodia since 2005) We are currently producing and developing a variety of social issue video, film and media projects which have been deemed worthy of support by the Media Alliance of San Francisco, CA. This means that all contributions are now tax deductible according to IRS code 501 (c) 3

Here's our current roster of fiscally sponsored projects--projects which are in real need of your support to be realized:



1) CAMBOFEST: Film, Video and Animation Festival of Cambodia (http://www.cambofest.com); this is Cambodia's first and only independent movie festival, now in our third year. Despite incredible lack of funding, we've kept it going til now virtually out of pocket and with modest support from the US Embassy in Phnom Penh and other friends and colleagues--see the Sponsor CamboFest page at the CamboFest website for more information.


CAMBOFEST's aim has always been to promote the re-emergence of a viable media and movie industry in Cambodia, an LDC (Less Developed Country). The media sector here experienced near-total destruction during the country's civil war and Khmer Rouge regime, and only today is the industry making inroads towards a recovery in this developing democracy.


But now CamboFest, a testament to the power of independent media in emerging democracies everywhere, is under the gun. The global recession has even reached Cambodia, and now we're in serious danger of shuttering the festival if we can't raise some basic support right away...

2) FREEDOM DEAL - A social issue drama, ala "Blood Diamond". This will be Camerado's third feature, following our first award winning effort, BookWars, and our second, the social issue drama, Lost in New Mexico. FREEDOM DEAL is the story of two internally displaced Cambodians during the US incursion into Cambodia in May 1970, which in turn sparked civil unrest in the States--leading in turn to the shootings at Kent State University.


The Cambodian story behind the US-VN conflict has never been substantially addressed as a feature film. The soundtrack potential for the movie is awesome, and we hope to utilize as much 1970 period rock music as we can in the soundtrack. DEVO co-founder Bob Lewis (and Kent State Alumnus) is onboard as advisor and story consultant, and Cambodian rock and roll scholar Matt Caron is onboard as Cambo-rock advisor. We have already scouted locations in Cambodia and have commenced significant pre-production.

Update 5/11/09 - We are currently seeking in-kind and financial support and advisors to commence a workshopping session to develop the first draft of the script on location in the Cambodian-Vietnam border region, with the participation of actual communities who lived through the war and incursion. [a Cambodian/US co-production]

3)
CAMBOTUBE (www.cambotube.com) - A user-generated, participatory video sharing community and online video delivery portal for Cambodia and SE Asian regional issues; the Cambodian Daily calls CamboTube "an important tool for democracy".

Like many of our other grass-roots efforts, CamboTube was launched designed, and sustained out of pocket til' now. We're currently in need of support in order to upgrade our servers and online internet service, to acquire an office or dedicated work space, and to purchase some basic cameras and production gear in order to allow members of the Cambodian community better participatory access.

Please help sustain independent media in SE Asia with a contribution. Even $10 or $20 goes a long way given our modest overhead...but we can't do it without you.



If you do require a tax-deduction according to code 501 (c) 3, please note that we are as mentioned are being fiscally sponsored by the Media Alliance of San Francisco, CA.

Mail a check* to Media Alliance:

Media Alliance

1814 Mission Street # 205

San Francisco, CA 94103

www.media-alliance.org


(*be sure to write “CamboFest”, "Freedom Deal", "CamboTube", or just "CAMERADO" in the memo section of your check)


...or contact them at information@media-alliance.org to arrange an online contribution

We've already been faced with a critical funding shortage for CamboFest, as you can see in the following email--the continuation of Cambodia's first and only independent movie fest depends on contributors like you!


FW: Urgent: Cambodia's only independent film festival faces funding shutdown


[Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 8, 2009]

CAMBOFEST, Cambodia's first and only internationally recognized independent film festival (now in it's 3rd year) is facing an emergency funding shortage. Despite international acclaim and kudos from industry professionals as varied as Julie and Roger Corman, the festival is in imminent danger of shutdown due to significant funding gaps.

CAMBOFEST is 100% diligent about presenting movies only with documented permission from the copyright holders. This is far from standard for the region though--CAMBOFEST's aim has always been to set an example of proper IP practices for film distribution and exhibition throughout ASEAN, and beyond.


All supporters will be listed on the CAMBOFEST website's sponsor page at www.cambofest.com; contributors sending $50 or more will receive a special “Best of CAMBOFEST 2008” DVD as our way of saying thanks.


1) PREFERRED METHOD=> your contribution will reach us more quickly and will be available to us nearly instantly via the following gateway:


https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5293886

2) If you do prefer a tax-deduction according to code 501 (c) 3, please note that we are being fiscally sponsored by the Media Alliance of San Francisco, CA.

Mail a check to Media Alliance:

Media Alliance

1814 Mission Street # 205

San Francisco, CA 94103

(again, with “CamboFest” in the memo section)


...or contact them at information@media-alliance.org to arrange an online contribution

CAMBOFEST's aim has always been to promote the re-emergence of a viable media and movie industry in Cambodia, an LDC (lesser developed country). The media sector experienced near-total destruction during the country's civil war and Khmer Rouge regime, and only today is the industry making inroads towards a recovery in this developing democracy.

If you'd like to discuss more significant, longterm sponsorship of CAMBOFEST, please email us at info@cambofest.com

Thanks for your support; we'll update you on our situation at the end of May--

Install a Widget of this Blog Page on your blog or site and help us spread the word:






Monday, May 11, 2009

Fundraising for CAMBOFEST (Film and Video festival of Cambodia) continues: day F

We started a fundraising campaign for CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia a few days ago, and we'll be continuing through the end of May. Luckily, the first contributors have arrived already!

After our first two days, our new supporters include:

Martin Zweiback, Santa Monica CA

James Higgins, Lowell MA

Helge Cramer, GERMANY

...while Cambofest 2008 filmmakers Ronnie Cramer, Stefano Giannotti, and Matt Boman have generously allowed Cambofest to include their films on a "thank you DVD" for contributors sending $50 or more.


**We've still got a long way to go (our goal is about $3200 more by the end of May). Please send a contribution to help us maintain festival operations - Even $10 helps and goes a long way out here in Cambodia**

All supporters will be listed on the CAMBOFEST website's sponsor page at www.cambofest.com; contributors sending $50 or more will receive a special “Best of CAMBOFEST 2008” DVD as our way of saying thanks.

1) PREFERRED METHOD=> your contribution will reach us more quickly and will be available to us nearly instantly via the following gateway:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5293886

2) If you do prefer a tax-deduction according to code 501 (c) 3, please note that we are being fiscally sponsored by the Media Alliance of San Francisco, CA.

Mail a check to Media Alliance:

Media Alliance

1814 Mission Street # 205

San Francisco, CA 94103

(again, with “CamboFest” in the memo section)

...or contact them at information@media-alliance.org to arrange an online contribution

CAMBOFEST's aim has always been to promote the re-emergence of a viable media and movie industry in Cambodia, an LDC (lesser developed country). The media sector experienced near-total destruction during the country's civil war and Khmer Rouge regime, and only today is the industry making inroads towards a recovery in this developing democracy.

If you'd like to discuss more significant, longterm sponsorship of CAMBOFEST, please email us at info@cambofest.com

Thanks for your support; we'll update you on our situation at the end of May--

Ark'un Ch'ran,

J Rosette, Phun Sokunuthearith (aka Mr. Tol), & the rest of the CAMBOFEST Team

CAMBOFEST: Film, Video and Animation Festival of Cambodia
www.cambofest.com

Thursday, May 07, 2009

CAMERADO now 501 (c) 3 tax deductible--support our important social issue media projects

:: Hello from Camerado ::

We are happy to announce that Media Alliance of San Francisco, CA is
now a fiscal sponsor for several of our ongoing, innovative media
projects in SE Asia.

Media Alliance had been a sponsor for Camerado’s first award winning
social issue documentary feature, BookWars, and we’re excited to have
their vote of confidence once again as a fiscal sponsor for our
activities.

Fiscal sponsorship means that any support for Camerado is now 501 (c)
3 tax deductible for all US based individual and foundation
contributors.

Our 501 (c) 3 ability also means we’re now eligible for many grants
and foundational support which we weren’t able to access
previously…so, even if you can’t offer a direct contribution, any
referrals to grants or foundational support is appreciated!

For our friends around the world who aren’t covered by the US tax
code--we still welcome any financial or in-kind contributions you can
offer: we’d be happy to offer you a visible credit for any
contributions.


:: SUPPORTED CAMERADO ACTIVITIES INCLUDE

1) CAMBOFEST – Cambodia’s first internationally recognized independent
movie festival, now in our 3rd year. Produced by Camerado under
extremely challenging conditions, with minimal financial support
(mainly out of pocket and via filmmaker entry fees) up til now
(www.cambofest.com

).

Our immediate needs include: hardware & AV equipment, venue rental,
staff compensation, outreach and advertising, office space and
operational costs, training for staff.

Contact us at camerado@camerado.com [subject line CAMBOFEST] to see
how you can be a part of CamboFest!

2) CAMBOTUBE – A Youtube-style video sharing community for Cambodia
and the region (www.cambotube.com). Produced by Camerado as a
grass-roots media undertaking, and "important tool for democracy" –
The Cambodian Daily.

Our immediate needs include: robust broadband internet (pricey in
Cambodia), dedicated hardware & AV gear for content origination, staff
compensation, office space, server rental, outreach and promotion.

Contact us at camerado@camerado.com [subject line CAMBOTUBE] to see
how you can be a part of CamboTube!

3) "FREEDOM DEAL" – A new social issue drama (ala "Blood Diamond") in
active development to shoot in Cambodia and Thailand. Camerado’s third
feature, "Freedom Deal", is the story of two internally displaced
persons during the US incursion into Cambodia in May 1970. This
innovative feature film is the first-ever dramatic feature about the
little-known Cambodian aspects of the US-VN conflict.

"Freedom Deal" also welcomes Kent State Alumnus & legendary DEVO
co-founder Bob Lewis and Cambodian rock n’ roll-scholar Matt Caron
onboard as advisors.

Our immediate needs include: financial support for research and
development of the first draft of the screenplay, to be workshopped on
location with local communities in the Cambodian-VN border regions;
travel costs; script reading and translation; final polish of Draft #1
of the screenplay, staff compensation.

Contact us at camerado@camerado.com [subject line FREEDOM DEAL] to see
how you can be a part of "Freedom Deal"!

:: TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION NOW online, please visit the following page at

Network for Good:

https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=942563400

*IMPORTANT*
In order for Media Alliance to direct and process your contribution
towards Camerado, please be sure to enter "Camerado" and/or "Camerado
[project name]" in the form box which asks for "Additional
Information" or "Comments" or the equivalent.

:: OR, CONTRIBUTE THE OLD FASHIONED WAY, via snailmail to:

Media Alliance
1814 Mission Street # 205
San Francisco, CA 94103

…again, please make sure to indicate "Camerado" on the memo line of
your check and/or cover letter.


If a tax-deduction isn't an issue, and you'd like your online
contribution to reach us quicker and without a processing fee (our
preference), please contribute directly through the
following gateway:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5174522

In any case, have a great day and thanks for your support!

JR / Mr. Tol / Vuth / The Camerado Team

Camerado is an innovative media production, arts, and consultation
group which has been operating in SE Asia since 2004 (in Cambodia
since 2005)


~ CAMERADO ~

Attention Jason Rosette * Mr. Tol

PO Box 707

12000 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

camerado@camerado.com

855 011 736 206