Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

Doc Soup: Following Up on the Buzz

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OK, call this a follow-up or time to eat crow or what you want, but I wanted to write a bit about a post I filed three weeks ago, in which I decried the buzzing blogosphere around the near-carcass that is ThinkFilm. Perhaps I overstate now, but I only do so because my estimable colleague A.J. Schnack over at All These Wonderful Things took umbrage at my post, and thought I was taking cheap shots at him. Since then, he has followed up on the troubles of ThinkFilm with some informative posts (see here, here and here), along with links to other sites. All of which are of interest to us, I might add, because ThinkFilm has been such a great champion of documentaries.

And, last week, the grey lady chimed in on director Alex Gibney‘s lawsuit against ThinkFilm. Two things came to mind in reading the Times piece:

One: I tend to believe that Gibney has just cause in making his complaint. He just strikes me as too much of a straight shooter to be going though the strains of a lawsuit without just cause. But, well, I have to wonder if he got everything he wanted: if Think had poured money into advertising to help his Taxi to the Darkside, would it have made a difference? That doesn’t mean that he didn’t deserve his fair shot and that ThinkFilm owed it to him, but I think Gibney should give Errol Morris a call to see if Morris was happy with his ad budget, because Standard Operating Procedure also sank like a stone.

Two: The Times piece indicated that what ails independent distributors like ThinkFilm is the glut of films, noting that while 450 new films hit theaters in 2002, 600 were released in 2007. That’s a 33% increase. Wow. But, c’mon, Mr. New York Times man, keep your eyes on the prize: that doesn’t hold a candle to the documentary boom: docs went from 17 in theaters in 2002, all the way up to 95 in 2007 (according to www.the-numbers.com). Yikes! That’s a 558% increase. Now that’s the story for you.

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki