Inverted Pyramid Manifesto

“Inverted Pyramid Manifesto,” Inverted Pyramid (2017)

Inverted Pyramid [I.P.] is an independent resource for moving image artists, programmers, academic researchers, funders and the general public to find out about experimental and underground moving image festivals’ fiscal practices. I.P. is a DIY initiative ran by a collective of artists concerned with the apparent hierarchy that has developed regarding experimental moving image exhibition. We are concerned that the financial onus of running a film festival is increasingly put on the artist through submission fees, and that many festivals refuse to pay moving image artists a rate proportional to their generated income (be it through grants, sponsorship or ticket sales). Moreover, it seems that for many of the major festivals, the only people who are not paid a living wage are the filmmakers.

The goal of I.P.’s research is to, at the very least, create transparency. Ideally, it is to inspire change; both within the organizations themselves and within the ways granting organizations evaluate them. We believe there is always a way to pay artists if this is made a priority

We are not here to shame festivals or artistic endeavours that are ran out of love, it can be assumed that most experimental moving image artists are creating work for this very reason. Rather, we are interested in raising awareness around dubious experimental and underground moving image festivals that charge outrageous submission fees while not paying proper artist fees. 

Moreover, there are many festivals that pay more than a living wage to their executive director or artistic director while not paying proper artist fees. Of course, we are not asking that these wages not to be paid; but we are asking that the invisible labour of filmmaking be recognized. We believe that every festival should make gestures to acknowledge the intrinsic artistic and financial value that the art of cinema has in the public realm. 

We also want to clearly state that paying someone a travel honorarium to attend a film festival is not paying the artist an artist fee. Artist fees first. Then if festival organizers want the added value of having filmmakers present, they should assist in compensating them as such.

The inverted pyramid that informs many of these types of exploitive practices (the same pyramids that informs all other modes of capitalist production) must be abolished if we are to move forward. It is our hope that providing resources on the fiscal practices of experimental and underground film festivals will help promote change within the arts ecosystem.

If you are interested in proudly showcasing your experimental moving image festival’s ethical fiscal records, please feel free to contact us. If this thought embarrasses you, you are probably engaging in exploitative behaviour and we are coming for you.1

  1. The final version reads: If you are interested in sharing any information whatsoever about your experimental moving image festival, please feel free to contact us. It is our goal to provide information to the public and to work with festivals to secure a brighter future for the filmmakers of tomorrow. []