Tuesday, March 29, 2011

EDITORIAL: RIPHOUSE 151 – 100% GREEN DVD

Don't take the plastic.
A couple of months ago I posted an article entitled “World’s first 100% GREEN DVD,” which stands for Digital Video Distribution instead of Digital Versatile Disc. It was a simple post with not a lot of insight or explanation into the genesis of that concept or claim. The link in that post brought you to a page featuring my film, RIPHOUSE 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s (2008) and offered a small list of its content, but little else. I feel it is my obligation to make my statements clear and understood because that is the only way to help others embrace this form of video presentation. Since the 27th of March is the anniversary of the films premiere, as well as the bands first show, it’s only fitting to officially launch this awareness campaign this week. Once all the cards were on the table it really was a no brainer, but it did take some time to come to that realization.

When the project began in February of ’07 there was already talk about the DVD before I even filmed the first interview. This enthusiasm only grew as we (me and my skeleton crew) started to compile interviews with the cavalcade of characters present in the film, along with all of the footage we were uncovering of the band performing live back in the day. When the first rough cut was completed I knew not everything was going to make it into the final version. Not to mention that there were still some things that had to go in before we could screen it publicly. The film was locked (finished being edited) in January ’08, just under a year from its inception. At that point we were itching to screen it, but the question of a DVD release was still coming up, only now it was being requested by fans.

Original Theatrical Poster
After a meager, albeit expensive, festival run we decided to not waste any more money on entry fees and began researching distribution costs. Did I mention that about three weeks after RIPHOUSE 151 premiered Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) was all over the news, stealing any thunder we may have had even if I had co-written The Terminal (2004)? Suffice it to say, the cards were more than stacked against our favor. Still, positive reviews and feedback continued as did requests for an official DVD release.

Originally we had wanted to do a 2 Disc Special “Family Album” DVD set. It was to include the film and everything featured on the green DVD, plus a director commentary, as well as a digital copy of the band’s entire recorded catalog, remixed and remastered. There was also going to be a bonus disc of the band’s best live clips, ala Metallica: Cliff’em All! (1987). Boy, was that wishful thinking. It turned out, as cheap as DVDs are they still cost a pretty penny to be done right. If you’ve seen the film then you know both the band and myself would not settle for anything less than perfection. On top of that it became a question of how many to print and where to store them. There’s very little difference in price between 500 units and 1,000, and if you‘re gonna for 1,000 you may as well go for 2,000. It was around this point that things started getting out of hand.

We started trying to cut down on the content and only keep key attractions. The first thing to go was the Bonus LIVE DVD. Then the songs were never finished being remixed, never mind remastered. Eventually people moved on to other projects. Three years of your life is a tough thing to just turn your back on so like any good captain I was going down with my ship. I began looking into DVD pressing costs to see if I could fund the project myself. It was through this process that I found out exactly what went into the production of a DVD. When they’re sitting on your shelf in your collection you tend to overlook all the useless materials that go into the packaging and creation of just one disc. Multiply that by 1,000 and you’ve got yourself enough natural resources to fill your own grave, much less a carbon footprint. Since there was no one left to consult or argue with I made an executive decision to go green.

Being aware that many products on the green bandwagon talk the talk but fail to walk the walk, I wanted to make mine as legitimately uncontestable as possible. There is no packaging, no inserts, no physical form what so ever and takes up only digital space. This is the digital age we live in so I embraced it with both hands. I figured most people already download or watch their entertainment online anyway. The film, and all of the intended bonus features (less subtitles and director commentary) are available streaming online 24/7/365. It is accessible to the entire world at the click of a button, for FREE. You can’t get greener than that and I defy anyone to try.

In all sincerity I encourage independent filmmakers to stop looking at the vain result of having your product stare back at you from the shelf and pursue digital forms of distribution. All I did was sign up for a vimeo plus account and set the video privacy setting to my website so I could host the exclusive content of my work. Not only does it make your work accessible to everyone and drive traffic to your other projects, but it also allows you to reach more people at a significantly lower production cost. There is no doubt that our civilization is going to move further towards digital storage until it becomes commonplace. 

And the crowd goes wild!
RIPHOUSE 151 Premiere - March 27th, 2008

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