Little Films & The Long Tail PT II

kinnon —  April 3, 2005 — Leave a comment

Apple has a link to the this article in the Money section of USA Today. The article begins as a discussion of the film produced by Jonathan Caouette, Tarnation – a film that garnered great reviews at Sundance & Cannes. A self-proclaimed computer illiterate until a friend gave him an iMac, Caouette used Apple’s  iMovie (bundle with every new Mac and part of the iLife suite of products) to capture and edit home video tapes, photos and the answering machine files he began saving when he was eleven. The success of his work of art (made for less than $300 in out of pocket expenses) is still startling – yet it’s becoming part of the Long Tail reality. There is a huge market in the Long Tail for powerful stories told well.

"This literally went from my desktop computer to a worldwide distribution deal in less than a year," marvels Caouette. "It’s really something of a miracle."

One can imagine Gutenberg mumbling something similar as the first printed Bibles rolled off the presses. Just as the German metalworker’s 15th-century invention democratized the written word, several tech advances have converged to enable the next great leap forward in creative expression.

The article continues with a discussion of the software and computer companies who see the huge profits available in providing inexpensive creative tools. And then discusses the market for those products.

With easy access to potent digital tools, aspiring filmmakers, musicians and artists possess wide latitude to chart unexplored creative waters. While most might never rise above mediocre, the talented and driven are already making waves. Hollywood’s opportunistic eye has never been more intently trained on film festivals around the country that are increasingly swamped with digitally produced submissions., a Cambridge, Mass.-based Web site, posts thousands of digital movies for sale, the collected works of more than 900 independent artists. "The technology has finally started to level the playing field," says co-founder Michelle Meek. "One person with a vision can get something created and distributed, which I think is very exciting."

AVID’s recent purchase of Pinnacle along with their purchase of M-Audio is part of their realization that the only real growth they can expect is in providing products to the niche markets of the Long Tail. As a former owner of a $250,000 Avid edit system, who now has virtually the same level of capability in Final Cut Pro HD (excluding Avid’s powerful Multi-cam software) running on my laptop (at a cost in today’s dollars of much less than $5,000 including external drives) – technology is truly leveling the production playing field. And so is the new distribution model. One only needs to look at what is happening in the music market to know what’s coming.

Launched out of a dingy basement by three University of Massachusetts-Amherst classmates in December 2003, has attracted about 112,000 unsigned bands to post bios, gig updates and free original songs. The Web site draws 400,000 unique visits a day — and keeps growing. The big attraction: More than 137,000 self-produced songs available for free download.

"These bands have always been out there," says Mitchell Pavao, PureVolume’s 24-year-old co-founder. "The difference now is they can finally get to the audience they’ve been craving."

The same holds true for about 850,000 artists who take steps to convert their artwork into a digital file so it can be displayed on The brainchild of 24-year-old Chief Executive Angelo Sotira, deviantArt serves as a global commons for artists of all skill levels. Sotira makes money by preparing and shipping high-quality prints of artwork from the site’s most accomplished occupants.

This year’s NAB (the National Association of Broadcasters convention and trade show in Las Vegas) promises to introduce more products that will be aimed at serving the Market of the Long Tail. HDV offerings from Canon, Sony, Panasonic & JVC – along with HDV native editing programmes from Apple and others will see the true beginning of the HDV revolution – bringing High Definition production within reach of the Long Tail.

Their is a huge and hungry market for great story telling in the Long Tail. Talent will be the deciding factor in achieving success in the long tail – not technology.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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