Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Aye Aye IMDb

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Here's an interesting update on our film Blind Faith: A Film About Seeing. More precisely, on how IMDb works and why independent filmmakers might want to consider the importance of the least important thing: the credits.

Back in 2007, I worked with five of my pals in the brand-new Documentary Certificate program at The New School to create a 7-minute documentary on blind photographers.

As part of the International Documentary Challenge, we compressed the process of making a documentary down to five days.

There's the thing, though: we did everything the way you should.

There was (very fast) Production work, including handling a (tiny) budget, getting all the permissions and releases, arranging interviews, finding the right folks, etc. etc. There was some nice cinematography work (I shot the stop-motion sequences on the NYC street, for example). There was some (incredibly quick) post-production. We shared the tasks, and decided to credit the film as a collaboration. Everyone would get credit.

We arranged for a good score, as well. In fact, we won "Best Soundtrack" at the Doc Challenge finals, held at Hot Docs Film Fest in Toronto that year. I was proud that they recognized both our music and how it integrated with our edit and content.

So far, so good. Once the film started going places (Hot Docs, Big Sky Film Fest, Picture This Film Festival, etc.) I added it to That went fine. The credits went up.

But IMDb has a policy in place that they are a database of credits as they appear on the screen. It doesn't matter if you are actually the Producer or Cinematographer: unless there's a credit onscreen that says that, IMDb can revise the listing.

I don't disagree with that. That's what they have always said, and that seems good to me.

But there's the funny thing: Blind Faith went online at SnagFilms (see the video above). So, unlike many shorts that screen at a fest or two and then aren't seen, IMDb has a direct link from the listing to the online video. Cool.

But someone at IMDb had the time to watch the film, and our credits on the film are limited. If you watch it to the end, you'll see "A FILM BY" and then our six names. To us, that meant "everybody did everything" and that we were Directors and Producers and Editors and Cinematographers.

Not so fast, IMDb says. First, our Producer credits disappeared. And our Cinematographer credits. (There's no credit that says "camera" or "cinematography by" or "photography" visible. We did it, but it isn't on the titles page.) Then, the Editor credits.

More disappointingly, Joel Mumma is no longer credited as Composer, even though he was. He's now listed as appearing in the film (as "himself").

Ah well. Whatever.

But a lesson learned: as old school, mainstream and simplistic as it seems, add your full credits to the film. If you want to see your credit on IMDb, put it on the screen.

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