On Being the Shoe for the Long Haul

I’ve been making movies since 2002. And yes, the first time we picked up a camera, I was 15. And I was 19 when we rented out a theater to premiere our first feature film, American Gothic.

It’s been a while.

In that time we produced three feature films and many of short films. We premiered all over and went to festivals and won recognition for acting and directing and comedy and, most importantly, showed people movies worth watching.

“I promise it’s better than at least one movie you’ve seen in theaters this year,” I used to say to people who were thinking about coming to our shows.

It’s been messy, of course. We tried our hand at a miniseries (never do this — it’s significantly more work than a feature film, and congrats to anyone, i.e., Jake Rubin, who manages to finish one). We built a digital distribution system before Vimeo on Demand existed or YouTube would allow longform video (nobody cared, but we sold and gave away a few hundred downloaded copies of Salad Daze before there was any mainstream way to do it).

Our website has been through at least 6 iterations. The one I launched today is to prepare for the long haul.

2.

The previous version of the site included a whole page linking to broken pages of bands that broke up years ago.

Likewise, I wrote a bunch of blog posts back in 2009 that feel trite today. The challenges and opinions we had shooting with no resources in Chesterfield are very different than the ones we have shooting as adults in New York.

Even some of the old movies shouldn’t be part of our public presence. We made The Girlfriend Claire to win a local film festival (and drum up interest in our upcoming feature premiere). It pokes fun at greek culture in a way that’s specific to Mizzou in 2009. It’s not timeless—it was never meant to be.

All of that has got to go.

On the other hand, a friend who visited my apartment and saw the old movie posters hanging went back and watched everything, raving about, of all things, Salad Daze (2009). I rewatched it recently, and you know, the performances are great and the story holds up.

Yes, we literally built half of our equipment for this movie. We edited in Pinnacle Studio, which is really made for birthday videos, because we were college students and couldn’t afford Avid. But I’m totally happy to continue showing that to the world, should they find it.

Of course, we’ve come a long way since that.

3.

Yes, we have real equipment and Joy was cut in Avid. We have talented actors and producers who make everything look good, sound good, and run very smoothly.

Of course, the sort of people who decide to spend their free time making movies also tend to wind up with very intense careers and busy lifestyles.

The purpose of the new site is to accept the fact that we’ll still be doing this for years to come, and it’ll happen at a much slower pace — nobody is taking a month off to shoot a feature, and we need a public presence that can reflect that reality.

And with that in mind, we’re also acknowledging that all our plans to promote the next movie are fleeting. The world changes too fast for us to build way to distribute that will last from project to project.

That’s not new.

We distributed American Gothic on DVDs because that was the only option. We built our own infrastructure to sell downloads of Salad Daze, because nothing else could do it for cheap. By the time we finished Loss For Words, Netflix had trained people to expect streaming, which we could do, thanks to Vimeo (YouTube still had length limits at the time).

We pushed Joy through paid promotion on Facebook, but Facebook changes their algorithms (to the chagrin of every business that relies on them) every 6 months. There’s no reason to build a site around a promotion plan that will go obsolete in the next few years.

Instead, I built something simple, threw out everything extraneous, presented the movies in their context, and went back to talking to Randy about our next short film.

We’ll be taking our time.


Be The Shoe is a film collective that focuses on compelling stories and characters. Watch our latest short film, I’m With Joy.