Six short months ago, or possibly many long years (it can be tough to tell) I decided to release Voyage of the Chimera on DVD and Blu-ray. Today, at long last, the film has gone up for preorder on MovieZyng. My thanks to their team for all their hard work and infinite patience with me, plus special thanks to letsspeakfrench.com.au for the French subtitles!
The obvious question is: “why?” We live in an era of drones, wireless internet, solar-powered houses, and pocket-sized telephones that we actually watch movies on. People are even talking seriously about flying cars. So now that we actually live in the future, who on earth would buy a movie on disc? They get scratched, you have to get up off your couch to go find them, physically put them into the drive and close it, endure loading times and skip past all those built-in trailers and ads, and they take up valuable nick nack space in your living room.
But I love physical media.
I love the noticeably better image quality. I love the sense of ownership I get by having the actual movie sitting on my shelf. True, I “own” quite a few movies through online services, but what happens when the studio can no longer financially support having some of my more obscure favorites taking up server space? I want to watch True Lies, doggone it, and that’s not even obscure! Ownership is not ownership if it can be taken away so simply. Once a movie is on my shelf, no one - not the filmmaker, not the studio - can take it away or change it based on their own whims. The original Star Wars trilogy is by no means the only set of films that have been changed for subsequent releases - the 1995 crime thriller Heat and the 1984 biopic Amadeus cannot be watched online in their original theatrical versions. The theatrical version of 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans has all but disappeared as well. There are exceptions (the original version of Dances with Wolves has reappeared, recently), but the streaming versions of films subjected to this process are often limited to the most “updated” version. To be fair, we’re talking about a pretty small number of movies, but there’s no telling what the future might bring. All it takes is an internet outage and I can no longer access my online vault. Every streaming movie “purchase” I make carries the risk that I will one day lose access to the product.
With physical media, none of these issues come into play. When it comes to Voyage of the Chimera, however, there is one overriding question: can our movie sell enough copies to justify a DVD and Blu-ray release? In the beginning, I wasn’t sure. When we launched our crowdfunding campaign, I followed the advice of other filmmakers and did not include an option for a free copy of the film on disc, only a downloadable digital copy. There would just be too much time and money involved to make that guarantee, and I never would have finished the movie if I had to buy and then give away 30 or 40 discs for free, as much as I may have wanted to. Filmmaking, like a trip to Disneyland these days, is simply not cheap.
Once the film was finished, I began to see things a bit differently. I research other independent films and filmmakers when I can, and many of them are still selling discs and turning a profit. In fact, it seems there is a genuine market for microbudget indies. There are even services that professionally produce your discs for you for a pretty reasonable cost and revenue split. Should we go for it, I asked myself? I could do the case art and disc authoring myself. The upfront cost would just be a few hours out of the next few months, right? Streaming revenues are low (as low as $0.01 per hour!); I needed to make every effort to not just get chimera seen, but make it profitable, especially if I wanted to complete the series.
And I wanted that disc in my hand.
And so it was decided: I would give discs a shot after all. Blu-ray would be new territory for me, but I had made DVD discs before, so how hard could Blu be? I’ll detail the ups and downs of that in a future post, but for now, let’s just say it took a little longer than I expected it to. The good news is that since I did do all the artwork and disc design myself, I have virtually no costs to recoup. While there are ongoing costs to maintaining our online presence, most of what we earn through the physical release of Voyage of the Chimera Part I (after revenue split) will likely go straight towards the development and production of Part II. We will likely still be looking at a crowdfunding campaign for Part II, but the number we need to raise may be more attainable. We traded on a lot of favors to create Part I, so Part II is undoubtedly going to cost more. Can’t rely on favors forever.
What does all this add up to? A tremendously exciting DVD and Blu-ray release! The Blu-ray includes all the featurettes currently available on our YouTube page, as well as a brief pair of deleted scenes and a commentary track that Laura and I recorded early this year. I wasn’t able to fit as much onto the DVD discs, unfortunately, but they still include the original making-of featurette, Outtakes, trailer, and, of course, the commentary. Both discs are region-free, so they should work in players outside the US, as well. I’d have loved to do some foreign language dubs, too, but the 5 additional subtitle languages were tough enough. I recently tested a brand new set of discs from our manufacturer; the cases and packaging are on the same level as what you’d find in a store, and the picture quality is fantastic.
It definitely beats watching it on your phone.