The Movie Experience

In the age of perfect digital copies, musicians have it easy. No home entertainment system can replace live performance. But filmmakers are increasingly competing with swank home theaters featuring plush seats, lush sound, pause and rewind for bathroom breaks, and any other amenity your heart desires. Many home media rooms even offer the authentic movie experience that newer, cost-cutting chains gave up on long ago: soda fountains and popcorn poppers salvaged from old theaters.

So how do theaters offer something that can’t be had at home? At least one guy is working on the answer. Brett Gaylor stopped by last night’s CC Salon to talk about his new documentary, RiP: A Remix Manifesto. He mentioned that he recuts the film for specific audiences. Tonight’s screening at 92Y Tribeca, for example, will include shots of Times Square with New Yorkers covering up the all big brand logos on the street. Brett is hoping that offering a version of the movie that will never be seen again will give people a reason to see this screening instead of watching it at home (which they can do for free since he distributes the film as a free CC-licensed work).

I’m guessing it’s difficult (and expensive) to customize film content for audiences and locations, but if it can be done in a compelling way, I’d love to see it. I’m excited that the changing environment is pushing artists to explore new directions with their works. If they can get me to brave the sticky floors and stale popcorn at my local megaplex, they must have something pretty special up their sleeves.

A Ha! Fair Use!

Now that we can edit video on commodity hardware with free tools, we can all celebrate and test the bounds of fair use. One striking example is the famous video from A Ha’s “Take On Me” mixed with new lyrics that narrate the action in the video:

I wonder whether this remix is entertaining to people who don’t fondly remember watching the original on MTv in the 80s. It’s a bit of a meta joke, and I’m not sure how much of its value is simply riding on nostalgia, the catchy melody, and the awesome cartoon. I know some copyright experts who would say too little of the remix’s appeal can be attributed to its most recent auteur and that this robs the remix of transformative force.

I, of course, disagree. There is art there. Sure, it’s a bit conceptual, but there’s some real art there— a cultural moment, reraised, cast in a new light and presented for new and old audiences. Any theory of fair use that doesn’t free this kind of breezy, low-stakes interplay must be too restrictive. I don’t like to think about what kind of poverty results when nobody is allowed to quote culture in reacting to it, commenting on it and sharing it.

Via Kottke.