Monthly DVD and CD releases of short films/music are free, thanks to ads

Rich Seng wants to be an underground media mogul and he could be well on his way with his new concept: Cherry Bomb, free, monthly DVD compilations of film shorts and music, supported by advertising.

This month Seng begins a monthly Cherry Bomb CD series with a punk compilation, followed by love songs in February, hip hop in March, and indie rock in April. In May he’ll begin monthly DVD releases.

The first Cherry Bomb DVD, released late last fall, featured 27 short works by local filmmakers, and 20 off- beat commercials, mostly for small businesses in the Wicker Park, Bucktown and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.

“It’s a cool way of connecting the local business community with the local film and art community,” Seng said.

Seng put out his first sponsor-supported music compilation in the late ’90s. He’d been eagerly watching the shrinking cost of DVD production, and last year he finally found a cost-effective way of executing his plan. He charged each advertiser $199 for their spot. He recruited nine filmmakers to produce commercials, and made the other 11 himself. He made 1,300 copies of the DVD ? each sponsor got 45 copies. Seraph Digital authored and packaged the DVDs.

Movieside Film Festival director Rusty Nails curated much of the first Cherry Bomb DVD and Seng plans to continue working with him on subsequent releases. He’ll also incorporate the contributions of Usama Alshaibi, Xan Aranda of Primeshorts, and Heaven Gallery.

He’s also working with painter Gretchen Traverse to recruit visual artists whose work he plans to pair with experimental music on future releases. “I like a mix of comedy, experimental art pieces, documentary, and music video. I also want to include pieces that tackle social justice issues,” Seng said.

His own film on the first Cherry Bomb DVD, “Dear Palestine,” pairs the filmmaker’s own singing with provocative juxtapositions of footage from Palestinian refugee camps and World War II concentration camps.

“If you work for justice you remove the conditions that get people so angry they blow themselves up,” he noted. “I want to raise the consciousness of people around the world, especially in America, where the view of Palestinians is misrepresented. I’d love to include the work of pro-Israeli filmmakers and stimulate some dialogue that’s more substantial than what we’re normally exposed to.”

Hopefully, Cherry Bomb’s distribution can be expanded in the coming months. “I eventually want to court national advertisers, once they can see the infrastructure,” he said.

“With national advertising we can go to 10,000 copies and give them away at colleges, then go to 100,000 copies and also set it up as a subscription service. People will keep these DVDs in their library, add more value to the brand, and show that the advertiser is doing something significant with their ad dollar.”

Seng is already in talks with one larger potential local sponsor, Goose Island Beer Company.

See ? by Ed M. Koziarski,