Nina Paley

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I think artists do need to do work with no contract, because what we're motivated by is not money. We're motivated by a need to express ourselves and to get our ideas out.

Nina Paley (born 3 May 1968) is an American cartoonist, animator and free culture activist, most famous for her film Sita Sings the Blues.

Quotes[edit]

Copying is not theft
Stealing a thing leaves one less left
Copying it makes one thing more
That's what copying's for.
I think the tools are available for people to create and share culture and they're going to do that…
Copyright law as it is, it's just completely out of touch with human behaviour.
  • You don't deserve to be paid because you choose to do something that somebody else may, or may not, want. If you want to be paid for your work, you negotiate that beforehand. Otherwise I would just be walking around talking. Here I am talking now. "You owe me money", right? … It's up to you whether or not you want to do work with no contract. I think artists do need to do work with no contract, because what we're motivated by is not money. We're motivated by a need to express ourselves and to get our ideas out. That's the motivation. It turns out that when people like it they frequently will support you if you give them a means, but this is not a contract.
  • In ten years I think the [copyright] laws are going to be worse and I also think they are going to be less relevant. I mean, already the difference between the laws and people's behaviour, It's like they're different planets. I'm not hopeful for the laws changing. A lot of other people are, so maybe we will have meaningful copyright reform. I doubt it. I don't think it matters. I think the tools are available for people to create and share culture and they're going to do that and they might be doing it illegaly and at a certain point it's going to be more than the system can handle. I will say that if the power structure as it exists wants to continue they're going to have to reform because it's not sustainable. Copyright law as it is, it's just completely out of touch with human behaviour.

Power to the Pixel (2009)[edit]

I have a lot of doubts about following my muse when my muse leads me down some weird path.
I'm not ruling out doing another film, but I'm only going to do it if I have no other choice, which was the case with Sita Sings the Blues.
Power to the Pixel 2009: Nina Paley (2009)
  • I love money! Just because it's free doesn't mean I don't like money. And actually I've made more money this way than any distributor said I could possibly make, which isn't much because independent distributors are notoriously without money. So the most money any distributor told me I could possibly hope to make on this film, total, maximum, in my wildest dreams was $50,000, and they said much more realistic would be $10,000 or $25,000 and the biggest advance I was offered, I think, was $20,000 and that's for locking up all the rights.
  • I don't think distributors are cheating or evil or anything like that, I just think that the business model is unsustainable so they truly don't have money. There's just not much money in this particular model.
  • Total box office so far has been $22,350 … that trickles down to $3,000 for me. Which really isn't much, but it's fine. People are seeing the film and they're seeing it the the way it should be seen. I do not feel like the distributors are ripping me off. I feel like this is the model of film distribution and this is the reality of it and fortunately my income is not dependent on it.
  • Because I didn't sell it to a distributor, it can be in lots of film festivals. It's been in, I think, at least 200 festivals, it's won more than 35 awards which is great. I like that! If I had gone with a distributor they would have immediately said no to film festivals which I do not understand why distributors do, but that's what they do.
  • Audiences want to support artists. Which is pretty much how it's always been except during the last 100 years where it's turned into this really vicious, cutthroat, nasty business with all these blood-thirsty, parasitic middle-men. But historically, artists were relatively poor and supported directly by their audiences. There's a great book called The Gift by Lewis Hyde. You know, art is a gift and it turns out the audience is happy to give back.

Nina Paley on: Sita Sings the Blues: The Ramayana and 'Free Culture' (2009)[edit]

"Nina Paley on: Sita Sings the Blues: The Ramayana and 'Free Culture'" (9 March 2011)
  • My grand total for the free film was $132,000, and that is a business model I am totally sticking to. And everything that I do now is totally free.
  • Everyone wants me to make another movie and I'm like "Yeah, I'm doing quilts." Yeah, I have ideas. I have to be really, really obsessively moved. Like I have to have no other choice to do a project that takes that much time and it has to be a motivation other than just that I know that I will get approval for it. Much as I love approval, I mean it's extremely tempting. I want it. And I have a lot of doubts about following my muse when my muse leads me down some weird path. Again, like quilts. But I also know that if I do something just because I know people will approve of that, that's not really going to help me as an artist. So I'm not ruling out doing another film, but I'm only going to do it if I have no other choice, which was the case with Sita Sings the Blues.

Mimi and Eunice (2010 - present)[edit]

Copyright’s all about balance
MimiandEunice.com ·  Mimi and Eunice at Wikimedia commons
I want assholes to like me — that’ll mean I’m really special!
  • Mimi: Copyright’s all about balance: balancing creators’ and the public’s need for free expression…
    Eunice: with copyright lawyers’ need for paychecks!

Copyright is Brain Damage (2015)[edit]

Copyright is Brain Damage | Nina Paley | TEDxMaastricht (October 2015)
  • I am not a copyright reformer. I am a copyright abolitionist.
  • When you shut down neurons to prevent them from transmitting signals, we call that "brain damage." Copyright is brain damage. It's brain damage in the great mind, and it's brain damage in the individual mind.

Quotes about Paley[edit]

  • I got a DVD in the mail, an animated film titled "Sita Sings the Blues." It was an version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. Uh, huh. I carefully filed it with other movies I will watch when they introduce the 8-day week. Then I was told I must see it.
    I began. I was enchanted. I was swept away. I was smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. … Paley works entirely in 2-D with strict rules, so that characters remain within their own plane, which overlaps with others. This sounds like a limitation. Actually, it becomes the source of much amusement. Comedy often depends on the device of establishing unbreakable rules and then finding ways to break them. The laughs Paley gets here with 2-D would be the envy of an animator in 3-D. She discovers dimensions where none exist. This is one of the year's best films.
  • For fans of Sita Sings the Blues Ms. Paley’s imaginative leaps and blend of styles are part and parcel of the film’s visual and aural originality. “You can actually feel how much time went into it,” said Alison Dickey, a film producer and one of the jurors who nominated Ms. Paley for Film Independent’s Someone to Watch honor, to be announced at the Spirit Awards next Saturday. “We see so many films, and when you come across one like this, you just feel like you’ve stumbled upon a gem.”

External links[edit]

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