More Indie Movie Makers Realizing The Benefits Of Releasing Movies Free Online

from the good-for-them dept

There really isn't that much new in this recent article in Time Magazine about indie film makers releasing their movies for free online. The article covers some of the more well-known cases of filmmakers doing so. But what's interesting is to see this in such a mainstream publication like Time. Now, since we've already discussed most of the examples used in the article, I know what the critics will say immediately: that none of these count because they weren't huge multi-million dollar successes like Avatar. But, of course, that's the wrong comparison. These are indie filmmakers, and the comparison should be to where they would likely be right now if they had not released the film for free online. In most cases, it seems quite clear that they would have a lot less attention, a lot fewer people having seen the movie, and -- for those who implemented smart business models to go with the free release -- would have made a lot less money.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Nina Paley, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:19am

    My only quibbles with the article are that it refers to my Share Alike/Copyleft license as simply "Creative Commons" (a popular and false generalization which bugs me because most CC licenses are un-Free) and this odd conclusion:

    Soon, the middleman could be a thing of the past. And it may only be a matter of time before movie theatres — popcorn and all — are on the way out, too.

    Obviously I disagree with that - the roles of cinemas and middlemen are changing, but plenty are embracing change, just like the filmmakers in the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:29am

    "Soon, the middleman could be a thing of the past. And it may only be a matter of time before movie theatres — popcorn and all — are on the way out, too."

    Gosh! The author sounds just like Mike. :) Using a few blips to pronounce a trend!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:30am

    Re:

    Nina,

    The story says you are in the green to the extent of $55K. Is that true? I remember reading on this very site you are still in the red about a couple of hundred grand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Re:

    If the middlemen get out of the way, the movie theatres will thrive, I think. Movie theatres are crippled by the crazy demands they have from the middlemen -- 2% of profits goes to the cinemas, and they have to make their money off concessions (thus the expensive popcorn)!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:54am

    "There really isn't that much new in this recent article..."

    This story reminds me when Merriam Webster looked up the word "dictionary" in The Dictionary. When Merriam looked this up, he was surprised to find a picture of himself looking up the word "dictionary" in The Dictionary, within this picture, he found himself looking up the word "dictionary" in The Dictionary. And when he looked extremely closely at the very small picture, there was yet another picture of Merriam looking up himself in the Dictionary.

    I have it on authority that shortly after this, Merriam was sucked into a parallel universe, and while history does not fully document this, to prevent any re-occurrence, I don't recommend you research this. Besides, all the information you require can be found on this blog.

    For more information on this concept, see page 782 of Mike's Book "Approaching Infinity"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Sushil Malani, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 4:34am

    Free Psychology

    Though it looks very ridiculous to give on line free movie, it makes lot of sense... On internet WoM publicity can happen faster than light. If movie maker has confidence in his content, packaging and presentation, there will be huge user generated content to promote the movie- free of cost – then after lot of endorsement, advertisement revenue can flow in (unconventional source of income for movies). But it could turn the tide exactly in reverse if movie is disliked by the majority. There could be good idea to give pre-launch promo with multiple climax options.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 5:17am

    In Nina's case, it seems like a little bit of a re-write of history. Nina, correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think your original intention was to give the movie away for free, and that giving it away was only a defence mechanism against the copyright issues you faced, right?

    Also, as someone else mentioned, the Time article suggests you are 55k to the good, yet all the stories that we have seen here pretty much have you crying the starving artist blues. Which one is right?

    From the article, I can take only this: Plenty of people are making movies they are passionate about, but that have little hope of being commercially viable. Only through giving the product away and praying that people do something else (buy the proverbial t-shirt) do they have any hope of making their money back. In rare cases, it would appear to be a profitable enterprise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    It also remains to be seen how many of these "give it away free" artists refuse to be co-opted by Big Content, but continue to remain independent film makers, sharing their creative work for free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Nina Paley, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re:

    I've made over $55K from the film (the film has grossed significantly more) but I'm not "in the green." However I'm about to pay off the initial licensing fee/transaction cost debt, and am moving on to paying off the $80,000 production costs. Then maybe I'll get to that $7.5 million Director's Fee I owe myself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Re:

    "Only through giving the product away and praying that people do something else (buy the proverbial t-shirt) do they have any hope of making their money back."

    Still not grasping any of Mike's actual points when he talks about this, are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 7:14am

    Re:

    You are really grasping at straws here man. Try not to follow your predecessor (Weird Harold I think) and try to respond to every article. Stick to the ones where you can really blow some holes in. No one will notice you are skipping the tough ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Rasmus, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    I've been following techdirt for some time now and your statement is just not true. There is a fundamental difference between most of Mikes conclusions and this one.

    Mike takes one or two "blips" and then use logical reasoning to point to what kind of trend this might be a sign of. This is a very valid method in forecasting of the future. Forecasting of the future is in many ways a creative task, often the same as actually creating the future.

    The example you point at in the Times article is nothing of the sort. From the "blips" the article writer draws the logical conclusion that the middleman's role is diminishing and might eventually vanish. From that the author use a logically false reasoning based on the assumption that if a trend points to the destruction of one prominent feature of the present, then all other prominent features of the present will also be destroyed. And based on this the article writer concludes, logically falsely, that theaters will have to go too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    "My only quibbles with the article are that it refers to my Share Alike/Copyleft license as simply "Creative Commons" (a popular and false generalization which bugs me because most CC licenses are un-Free)..."

    THIS!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    The real problem

    The problem with the commercial entertainment industry is quite simple: the machine is still attached at the hip to the steam industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re:

    I'll notice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Free Psychology

    That is the best Tarzan impression I have heard in a long time. If Tarzan had a college education, that is...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Jan 4th, 2010 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    "Still not grasping any of Mike's actual points when he talks about this, are you?"


    Ok, since you admit a certain amount of cognitive retardation, I'm happy to help:


    Mike's point is that there is a clear (and effective) business model surrounding the concept of "giving away" content. While a simple (very simple) analysis would suggest that there is no profit in giving away a product that cost you something to make, the (rather old) idea of a "loss leader" comes into play.


    Sure, it cost you something, but you may not be able to get much for it, while if you give it away, you attract a ton of people who are willing to pay for something else that is related.


    In the Star Wreck example, a little over 20 grand was spent creating a product that if shopped to distributors would have arguably resulted in a loss. But when that same product was given away, it created a shitstorm of interest in *other* products that the creator sold, to the tune of over 400 grand. I submit this is a much larger number than the creators would have managed from the "make it/market it/sell it" model.


    Grasping any of this yet?


    You're welcome.


    CBMHB

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 3:35pm

    mainstream publication like Time

    LOL, you mean 'spin rag'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This