Underground Film Journal

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Bob Moricz: DVD DIYin’ It On Etsy

By Mike Everleth ⋅ June 23, 2010

DVD cover for a collection of short films

Notorious Portland-based underground filmmaker Bob Moricz is a true cinematic pioneer.

These days, more and more indie and underground filmmakers are turning to self-distribution on the Internet when no distributor is willing to take a risk on their work. But, the problem is, how does one make an independently produced and distributed DVD really stand out in an already overstuffed, totally saturated marketplace?

Well, one solution is for filmmakers to turn their DVD release into unique pieces of collectible art.

While independent and underground filmmaking is considered a DIY artform, the actual physical product sold, i.e. the DVD, isn’t generally considered a piece of art, even though what’s contained on the disc is. That needs to change.

The DIY art movement is pretty big right now, particularly in our era when most manufactured goods are produced overseas. And  the main hub of this movement is the merchant website Etsy.com, where creative people — whether they consider themselves “artists” or not — can sell their work directly to customers.

Filmmakers — even those who do consider themselves DIY “artists” — haven’t used Etsy as a way to sell their work. But it’s about time someone did.

And that someone is Bob Moricz.

Moricz produces challenging and provocative underground films, many of which have been reviewed on the Underground Film Journal, but their controversial nature hasn’t made them an easy sell to distributors or festivals.

Feeling shut out of the system, Moricz has gone the self-distribution route. But rather than use an online DVD on-demand service such as CreateSpace, he’s set up a shop on Etsy and is selling his DVDs as one-of-a-kind DIY collectibles.

Obviously, while he can’t “make” the DVD, each film comes in its own handmade package and Moricz will send a handmade zine with each purchase.

Moricz is a prolific filmmaker and, as of right now, he’s offering four DVDs for sale: Two feature films, one short film collection and a documentary. Each one costs five bucks. They are:

  1. Bumps: A fictional tale based on the notorious “pregnancy pact” among Massachusetts high school girls a few years ago.
  2. Palace of Stains: A trashy melodramatic soap opera about two warring families. Shot in one day and featuring dozens of insane characters.
  3. Goulash Gutter: With a collection title inspired by Moricz’s Hungarian heritage, Goulash Gutter features over two hours of fantastically outrageous short films with titles such as Slaves of Destructo, The Terrible Toothache and Spree! All the Way to Mexico.
  4. I Am Ugly and I Want to Die So Why Don’t You Just Fuck Me: Moricz gets a headstart on would-be film biographers of his oeuvre and has preemptively filmed his own documentary about himself.

Granted, going the DIY route with a DVD release entails extra expenses than using a generally free on-demand DVD production service. Plus, most “film” websites completely ignore DIY filmmakers, so getting any kind of promotion or attention is still going to be a major chore and challenge.

But, hopefully more filmmakers will take advantage of the DIY art scene in selling and promoting their films. Some “stores” on the Etsy site even advertise here on the Underground Film Journal through the Project Wonderful ad program. Project Wonderful is mostly dominated by the Etsy and webcomic crowds, which is why those types of ads run on the Underground Film Journal.

I think a network of DIY filmmakers could sprout up the way it has for crafts and comic people. Bob Moricz is leadin’ the way. Who’s going to follow him?

Buy Bob Moricz DVDs on Etsy.

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