More Independent Film Makers Embrace News Of Their Film Being Pirated

from the good-exposure dept

Alan Gerow was the first of a few folks to send in the news that some independent filmmakers not only discovered that their film, Ink, had ended up being widely available via Bittorrent, but that they were quite happy about the exposure. Alan sends over the email that the filmmakers sent out:
Dear Fans and Friends,

Over the weekend something pretty extraordinary happened. Ink got ripped off. Someone bit torrented the movie (we knew this would happen) and they posted it on every pirate site out there. What we didn't expect was that within 24 hours Ink would blow up. Ink became the number 1 most downloaded movie on several sites having been downloaded somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 times as far as we can tell. Knowing there's absolutely nothing we can do about it, we've embraced the piracy and are just happy Ink is getting unprecedented exposure.

As a result, Ink is now ranked #16 on IMDb's movie meter and is currently one of the top 20 most popular movies in the world.

This all started as a result of the completely underground buzz that you've each helped us create. We've had no distributor, no real advertising and yet the word of mouth that you've generated has made the film blow up as soon as it became available worldwide. So many of you came to see the movie multiple times, bringing friends and family and many of you have bought the DVD and Blu-ray from us. All of this built up and built up and suddenly it exploded.

We don't know exactly where this will all lead, but the exposure is unquestionably a positive thing.

Ink hits Netflix, Blockbuster, iTunes and many more tomorrow! Remember to get your signed copies, t-shirts and posters at the Ink Store.

Thank you so much for the constant love and support.

Jamin and Kiowa
Double Edge Films"
Again, we've seen this with other films as well, but it's always nice to see filmmakers who realize it doesn't make sense to freak out, but to look for ways to take advantage of this as a promotional opportunity.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 7:42pm

    But, will they sell lots of t-shirts or loooooottttttssss of t-shirts?

     

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    jakeblake, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 7:56pm

    this is way coold

    I agree with the anon coward guy

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:06pm

    "We've had no distributor, no real advertising and yet the word of mouth that you've generated has made the film blow up as soon as it became available worldwide. So many of you came to see the movie multiple times, bringing friends and family and many of you have bought the DVD and Blu-ray from us."

    Huh, fancy that, guess a download isn't a lost sale.

     

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    Gordon Firemark, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:38pm

    on the other hand...

    Sure, it's nice to get recognition in the form of lots of bittorrent downloads, ranking on imdb, etc, but think about the financial side of things for the film's producers for a moment.

    I know of several clients who've made very good independent films in the $1,000,000 budget range, and have obtained theatrical and/or home-video distribution in a handful of territories. These deals typically have covered about one-half of the production cost of the movie. These producers are hustling to sell distribution rights in other territories, but....


    Once the DVD is on sale somewhere, somebody rips it, uploads to torrent sites, etc.

    Then, somebody else downloads a torrent, burns dvds and sells them (via various online sites) in the territories NOT covered by the existing distribution deals. Price: $5-$8 or less. AND, because they're bootlegged or pirated copies, the filmmakers aren't seeing ANY of that money. So, YES, it IS a lost sale.

    NOW, the filmmakers (who've yet to repay their investors) can't sell the distribution rights in those unsold territories, 'cause the film's already available there, at a price that deeply undercuts what the retail price of the film would be.

    So, these talented filmmakers have made a popular film, but financially, it's a disaster. Their investors have lost money, so they aren't as likely to invest in future films. So, even if the filmmakers wanted to do another project, they might not be able, since their money source(s) have dried up.

    If this happened to you, would you even want make another film? Or, would you be more likely to focus your energies on something where you'll be able to make a living?


    Sure, recognition is nice, but it doesn't pay back the investors, and doesn't put food on the table. In this scenario, it's the little guys that get hurt. Most independent films are investor-financed, and depend heavily on the existence of an already shrinking DVD market.

    The proliferation of illegal movie download sites isn't good for the business of moviemaking, but it's downright BAD for the ART of film. Since good Artists have reduced incentive to create important works.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

      Re: on the other hand...

      Why do people keep saying that? How many artists have died poor and still produced "important" works?

      Quite a few, actually.

      If you wanted to say that bad artists have a reduced incentive to create unimportant works, then sure, I can see your point.

       

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        Gordon Firemark (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:26pm

        Re: Re: on the other hand...

        How many of those artists would've produced MORE important works, and maybe lived longer, happier lives if they'd been able to earn a living at their art?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: on the other hand...

          Happy people make terrible art!

          Oh, that's too funny! What a laugh! My sides are split!

          Seriously, look into how many artists have killed themselves in the past century.

          It's scary.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:16pm

      Re: on the other hand...

      This isn't precisely true. The artist's incentive to create is wanting to create. Most people engaged in creative endeavors don't make a living at it. It doesn't stop them.

      Films are more costly, but part of the art is in doing what you need to do using what you have. Using torrent distribution at the very least eliminates the costs associated with physical and licensed distribution methods (agents, attorneys, promoters--all expensive up front and still wanting to take a cut of sales). What you do sell, you don't have to sell as much of, or sell it for as much to the consumer to recover costs. What was once an indispensable part of the process is becoming less necessary.

      It makes little sense to put yourself in a position of having to limit your audience-building strategies in order to pay for/recover the costs of something you don't really need. I have a feeling that small-time but hungry producers will realize the potential of this method and understand that an expensive legacy component can be cut out of the process entirely while still resulting in an acceptable return on the investment. Then maybe next time the filmmakers get two small producers on board and increase the budget.

      The art is going to be fine.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 11:13pm

      Re: on the other hand...

      So why are distribution rights so valuable?

      If investors are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for said rights, that obviously means they're making some sort of return on that, right?

      Free distribution = cutting out the middle man.

      As we're seeing right here, in this example, free does not mean people will not buy. The exposure and publicity was created for FREE, and as a result people were buying DVDs, BluRays and the film is going to mainstream retailers.

      And no, that doesn't mean filmmakers have to be become business managers too. That's what you hire 3rd party people to do...as in, the people that used to get you your investors and distributors.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 1:14am

      Re: on the other hand...

      Sure, it's nice to get recognition in the form of lots of bittorrent downloads, ranking on imdb, etc, but think about the financial side of things for the film's producers for a moment.


      Are you new to this site? We've been discussing business models for ages.


      Then, somebody else downloads a torrent, burns dvds and sells them (via various online sites) in the territories NOT covered by the existing distribution deals. Price: $5-$8 or less. AND, because they're bootlegged or pirated copies, the filmmakers aren't seeing ANY of that money. So, YES, it IS a lost sale.


      No. It's only a failure by the filmmakers to give fans a reason to buy directly from them.

      So, these talented filmmakers have made a popular film, but financially, it's a disaster.

      Not because of piracy, but because of poor business model planning.

      The proliferation of illegal movie download sites isn't good for the business of moviemaking, but it's downright BAD for the ART of film. Since good Artists have reduced incentive to create important works.

      Then why are so many more movies being made today than in the past? Seems the incentives have worked themselves out just fine... Real life seems to have proved you wrong.

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 7:35am

      Re: on the other hand...

      > NOW, the filmmakers (who've yet to repay their investors)
      > can't sell the distribution rights in those unsold
      > territories, 'cause the film's already available there, at
      > a price that deeply undercuts what the retail price of the
      > film would be.

      Utter Nonsense.

      The film maker doesn't have to "delegate" anything. They can create their own master and send it to any number of small scale pressing operations and sell the resulting product themselves. The whole point of this "brave new world" is that no one is beholden to groups like the MPAA or RIAA anymore. The means of production and distribution are cheap, plentiful and in everyone's hands.

      This is why a lot of creative works are devalued. We see the fab spam for ourselves and see how cheap this stuff really is to mass produce (even in small quantities).

       

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    Gordon Firemark (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:24pm

    So, do you go to work every day just because you love it, without an expectation of being paid?

    Sure some Artists will create art and give it away because they love doing so, but many more will be prevented from doing so by the need to focus instead on making a living.

    Do you really believe that producers will put money into films knowing that they're going to be ripped off?

    Maybe if torrent distribution could be monetized, there'd be some validity to your arguments, but really... right now it doesn't work. Money for indie films is drying up... really!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:41pm

      Re:

      Sure some Artists will create art and give it away because they love doing so, but many more will be prevented from doing so by the need to focus instead on making a living.

      This is simply not true. Most artists already don't make a living at it, or don't make much of one.

      And yes, producers will put money in, and they will develop methods to make their money back without relying on the control of viewer access. Or they will fail. An aggregate of small investments spends the same as a huge chunk of cash from a single source, too. Let's not overstate the importance of the single large benefactor here. They are a convenience, not a necessity.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 11:24pm

      Re:

      So. What.

      Money for indie films is drying up. What's your point? That the government should start cracking down and throwing people in jail because something isn't profitable anymore?

      The world changes, things develop, and grinding things to a halt because you want to preserve a small part of it is meaningless.

      If the market can no longer sustain something, then that's that. If your doomsday prophecies are actually true, and movies are gone forever, then tough luck. No more movies, and people will have to move on.

       

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      Dom S, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 2:32am

      Re:

      My better half is an artist... she likes to make money from her art (who wouldnt, of course)...

      HOWEVER, she doesnt do it for the money!
      Much like many of her peers in the art community (the TRUE artists), her art started as a hobby and grew into a passion. If she makes money from her art, great! if she doesnt, well she DOESNT CARE because she does it for the LOVE of doing it

      "artists" who perform/create their art SOLELY for money (such as the people you are voicing on behalf of!), are not strictly true artists. Setting aside the fact that they are usually just “performing/miming” someone elses “art”, they are predominantly money-hungry, industry-polluting leeches sucking on the teet of an industry that can provide something beautiful for society as a whole, entertainment (which in turn brings people together and helps form community)
      the value in producing art comes from the consumer, we are the ones who will develop an opinion, share this opinion and ultimately recommend (or not) the “art” to others. once this has happened, the "artist" will get free advertising and more potential fans as a DIRECT result (this usually through so-called “illegal” distribution via the net).
      In the current way of things, it is the industry who try to dictate the value of their work… this is part of why they are losing the piracy battle. WE DON’T AGREE WITH THE VALUE THEY SET!

      the only reason people (industry lobbyists/”artists”) are kicking up a fuss about the financial loss of pirated "art/media" is because they dont love doing it, they do it to make as much money as possible (bearing in mind that the amount of money they make, regardless of piracy/file-sharing, will MORE THAN cover the cost of production if done correctly and is MORE THAN enough to live on, by a long LONG way). Unfortunately, you wont get anywhere trying to make sh*tloads of money whilst trying to fight the most mainstream form of distribution out there... the INTERNET.

      “Embrace new technology and distribution methods (whether legal or otherwise) or fail miserably”, we as the consumers have put that out to the producers of the art/media and they are trying to fight it…. And losing… badly and sorely.

       

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        Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re:

        Dom,

        I think what you're saying is true, many true artists are compelled to create. However, I don't think society gives a @#$ about the motivations of the people making the 'art'. Actually, let's just call it 'content', since that removes the subjective value judgement of whether it's 'artistic'.

        The public doesn't care about the motivations of the content creators. It may be a passionate starving artist that produces a great film, or a money-hungry studio pumping out a sequel just because they ran the numbers. Either way, the audience enjoyed Blair Witch AND Sita Sings The Blues. True value was created for society regardless of the motivation.

        So I agree with everyone's point here (and yours) that many talented "true" artists are motivated by passion, not money. I agree that lots of content would be made even if copyright didn't exist - even if no money were to be made from content. We would still have content.

        Just less.

        Because it's also true that the money-seekers also produce content, and often enough, it is also "good", in that society enjoys the results. It makes sense that the money-seekers would produce some good content, since their goal is to produce a product that has market demand.

        My point: Whether a content creator's motivation is purely passion, or purely financial, or a mix of both, it doesn't matter: the creation of their content is good for society.

        When an anti-copyrightist says: "There would be plenty of content just created because of passion", I disagree. My definition of plenty includes commercially-motivated production.

        When a copyright-maximalist says: "There would be no content without copyright." We all know that to be ridiculously false.

        That's why Techdirt tries to explain that BOTH types of producers can succeed in the market without the need for artificial scarcity. Both can do what they want, and seek the compensation they desire, but the onus is on them to deploy a business model that gets them there.

         

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    Manmeet, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 1:44am

    Publicity Stunt

    The above is a publicity stunt by the makers of the movie 'Ink'.

    I checked IMDB's top movies, the article claims that Ink is #16 but it is no where to be seen in the top 250. See for yourself http://www.imdb.com/chart/top

    The movie is popular on ThePirateBay though, http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5149681/Ink.2009.DVDRip.XviD-GFW


    I am in favour of the free movie debate. But I an not sure how is it possible to create big budget movies without the distribution system we have at the moment.


    Having read the reviews I am interested in watching Ink, question is should I download or buy?

     

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      technomage (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:59am

      Re: Publicity Stunt

      not number 16 on the top charts. He says :As a result, Ink is now ranked #16 on IMDb's movie meter and is currently one of the top 20 most popular movies in the world.

      And here is a cut/copy snippet from IMDb:


      User Rating:
      6.9/10 629 votes
      MOVIEmeter: ?
      Up 81,093% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.

      I'd say that between the "sub-culture p2p distribution network" and the "30 second blogspot commercial teasers" that the popularity is going through the roof right now.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    The ONLY people who say artists will stop making art if they cannot make a living at it are, almost unanimously, NOT artists.

    Funny that, innit?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:44am

      Re:

      ... oh forgot to point out... a bit like Gordon Firemark there, who pretends to care about the "poor artist" but all he actually talked about was DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS. Middle man?

      Funny that, innit?

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      "The ONLY people who say artists will stop making art if they cannot make a living at it are, almost unanimously, NOT artists."

      It does seem to come across that way. It's funny to me to see the updates about protecting artists and such on one of my screens as on my second monitor I'm going through tutorials on how to properly format and "make pretty" an eBook so that I can release my own work via bit torrent....

      If any TD community folks are good with this kind of thing and would like their name attached to the novel's eBook release to use to promote their own name, please let me know :)

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      I am a very successful starving artist and I don't make any money at it. Oh, sure, I probably could but then I wouldn't suffer and the art might go bad.

      Can't have that!

      There must be some sort of sacrifice to making art. Otherwise, you're not really making art. Maybe you're making a commodity. Or strictly money.

      But not art.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        Well no, this isn't true, either. Art does not necessarily require sacrifice or incentive beyond just wanting to do it. While the quality of art might suffer in parallel with the financial success of the artist, it doesn't have to, and it does not follow that the quality is suffering because of the success. Correlation something something something.

         

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    aphrael (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    The filmmakers were also gracious enough to answer some questions about the film and the hype surrounding it. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/a2zyy/i_am_kiowa_winans_executive_producer_of_the_movie/

     

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