Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AIVF Closing Shop

After several months of attempting to reverse their slide, AIVF sent an email out announcing that they will close the doors on June 28th. They do give word that some members are gathering soon to try to save the magazine and possibly relaunch the organization. My understanding is that some ex-board members (from long ago, I believe), and concerned members of the community plan to meet at the Flaherty Film Conference to discuss the demise of AIVF and see if they can figure out a way to relaunch it. In addition, as mentioned in the email, several groups are discussing with AIVF the possibility of at least taking on the magazine, The Independent, and keeping its focus of in-depth information and advocacy. (Full Disclosure: The group I run, NVR, has discussed this possibility, although we have no plans at this time).

I'm not sure, however, that trying to relaunch the organization is a good idea. As I described in an earlier post, AIVF is dying for a variety of reasons, and no one has been able to step forward and offer a plan for revitalization during the appropriate time - which would be the last five months of reorganization. Furthermore, part of AIVF's problems were due to having a board comprised mainly of filmmakers without much ability to raise funds. The group coming together sounds like more of the same.

It would possibly be much wiser for people to rally behind any of the numerous other groups that serve filmmakers, and that are also currently struggling, and help them transition. During the beginnings of the (public knowledge) of the AIVF crisis, several filmmakers gathered and made it clear that they didn't feel that any other organization was serving their needs. This is probably true, but organizations are really what their members make of them. If organization X isn't serving filmmakers needs, then their members (that means those of you willing to pay for the right to complain about them) should gather and force change. These organizations have to respond to their members needs, but they won't if those needs aren't articulated.

I continue to believe that even in this new age of media, where access is near ubiquitous and everyone seems to be a filmmaker, artists still need a group that can advocate on their behalf, serve their needs, get them information they can use and possibly help them get their films made and seen by more people. Such a group will undoubtedly need a stronger web presence, new business models and stronger commitment to its members, but the need is still there. Perhaps it's time for media artists to get more vocal about what they want and deserve.

1 comment:

Agnes Varnum said...

You are so right about this Brian. Since last November, I've been doing outreach around fair use, and even though 5 organizations (including AIVF) were part of the initial effort, it's been like pulling teeth to get them to hold meetings for their members (with the exception of NAMAC) to get the information out, despite the fact that nearly every time an event has been held, we've had sold-out crowds. I keep telling makers, if they want their professional organization to put something together, they have to inform them!

It's sad how culture has changed. In the early days of AIVF, people were activists who spoke out when they wanted or needed something. Now, people seem to feel that they won't be heard so why bother?