California-based documentarians and brothers Harry and Joe Gantz, are frustrated. While they love filmmaking, the business of art—lacking ownership of your work, having to censor yourself for the sake of advertisers—is bringing them down.
To counter their frustrations, the brothers, whose work includes HBO's long-running documentary series Taxicab Confessions,
are turning into entrepreneurs; coming up with a new model of promoting and distributing "edgy and exciting" online filmmaking content via their relaunched website, CrushedPlanet.com
The Gantzes explain that they had originally launched CrushedPlanet in 1999, but ended up closing the site since broadband and video streaming wasn't as widely available at the time. For their relaunch, they're building a subscription-based website that will offer a wide range of videos celebrating the "unrestricted voice," which means that the work can be raw and adult oriented, sometimes featuring nudity or language. The brothers believe that "there's an audience out there willing to pay the price of a movie a month," and they're particularly excited about their artist-friendly form of payment: The filmmakers retain the rights to their work and receive 51% of gross from sales of the work if they agree to keep it exclusive, and receive 33% of gross for non-exclusive work. The site has fifteen different channels, some with content to come, with a wide-ranging focus, from dance and theater, "Stream of Theater," to work about the environment, fittingly titled "Enviromaniacs."
Some other channels include "The War On Comedy," which has stand-up performances from comedians based in South Central L.A., "Turn Back Now," which features raunchy and ribald animations, and "Narratives Of," which is for stories "simply told." "Narratives Of" is where there's a real opportunity for the beginning filmmaker to get noticed, according to the brothers: "Now, for three grand, you can get a damm good camera and editing system," they enthuse.
The site already has an exciting array of work available to peruse, such as English animator Phil Mulloy's risky cartoons like Intolerance III: The Final Solution,
John Ezrine's documentary Son of a Bitch!,
and some of the brothers' own projects such as swingers documentary Sex With Strangers
and "Taxicab Confessions
without the taxi," Can I Ask You a Question?.
The brothers are quite excited about their new documentary, Gender Blender,
which is due to premiere on the website next week. It's about transgender beauty pageant contestants and follows their lives and relationships in between contests, which should be typically radical content from the Gantzes. In the fall (and accepting submissions now), the site will have an online film festival that will showcase a host of artists and films.
There's clearly a tremendous range of work and potential here, and the brothers have an overarching goal for now: "Please join!" They're looking for filmmakers and viewers, for people who are interested in highly artistic, curated filmmaking content without the corporate commercial inundation. An honorable mission, and in this internet age, it's very possible that CrushedPlanet will turn into an online destination.
For more information about Crushed Planet, go to www.crushedplanet.com.