Is Piracy Also Increasing The Quality Of New Movies?

from the more-data-from-the-front dept

We recently wrote about how the singer of the popular band the Fleet Foxes felt that unauthorized file sharing has improved the quality of new music, because it allows musicians to experience much more music, and that helps create more and better influences. This makes a lot of sense, as you realize how much creative content is really built on inspiration from other works. So, is the same thing true for movies? In a recent interview with film director and producer Tommy Pallotta (who did A Scanner Darkly), he talks about his latest project, American Prince, and its relationship to unauthorized file sharing. American Prince is a “followup” to Martin Scorsese’s documentary American Boy from over thirty years ago. The Scorsese movie is close to impossible to find legally… and, even though Pallotta did get is hands on an “official” copy from the main character in the movie, he downloaded a copy via BitTorrent and found it to be better. With American Prince, Pallotta has also purposely decided to put the movie online for torrenting.

Still, the key point that Pallotta makes seems to fit almost exactly with what the Fleet Foxes were saying:

Scorsese’s American Boy has been and is still generally unavailable for over 30 years, yet so many filmmakers have been influenced by it. The way we saw it is through multi-generational VHS tapes. Now with BitTorrent, there is a whole new audience and generation ready to be influenced by that film and I hope mine. Steven Prince is a gold mine of future cinema scenes and I hope a whole new generation of filmmakers will understand how he has influenced American Cinema.

In other words, by getting more people exposed to the film, more can be influenced to make better movies as well. In fact, he seems to view the combination of his own movie and it being available on BitTorrent as film school:

I would really like to encourage people to talk about the film, with each other as well as on the Internet. It would make me happy to see Wikipedia entries and IMDB boards as well as Internet sites. I would love for people to get together and have screenings of it with their friends, or for universities to suggest to their class for the students to watch it. I look at American Prince as the film school I never had, what I always imagined film school to be.

And, of course, unlike what the MPAA claims, Pallotta only sees the positives that come out of file sharing:

I absolutely believe how we watch and share movies will shape the future of film distribution. I believe it will have such a profound influence that it will even change how movies are made. I think it is a win-win for the filmmakers and the viewers. Filmmakers will have a more direct reach with audience and viewers have more to choose from. I wanted to release this film in support of file sharing and to prove to myself and others that it can have a profoundly positive effect.

So, of course, if you want to see the movie, Pallotta hopes you’ll download it.

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Comments on “Is Piracy Also Increasing The Quality Of New Movies?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently you haven’t seen the crappy movies coming out these days. Tons and tons of recycled ideas, “part 2” and “prequels” and “alternate stories” abound, few new ideas, and everything is 100% gotta hit or we die.

If anything, it could be said that Piracy is taking away from of the risk taking in hollywood, because they can’t afford to make marginal movies.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dark Knight

I don’t think that argument holds much weight. The point of the article is that file sharing leads to sharing of ideas to influence future movies, which I can sort of agree with. Dark Knight was a great movie for a number of reasons: great acting, special effects, big name actors. Then there was the extra press surrounding Heath Ledger’s death, which sure didn’t hurt the movie. All this lead to a huge amount of hype, with file sharing/pirating being a side effect of the movies popularity.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hollywood is full of “recycled ideas” because it evolved into a hit machine. Theatre ticket returns goes down the longer a movie plays in theatres. Movies like Star Wars and Ghostbusters played for YEARS in theatres, not weeks. Now a movie has to make its money and then get out of the way for the next big movie. Movies don’t have time to gain word of mouth, they have to hit big or die. That is why advertising is such a ridiculous percentage of budget.

I hope this blockbuster mentality dies. Sure, I’ll miss the spectacle movies, but I think they will be replaced by hundreds of smaller, more interesting movies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The quality of big budget Hollywood movies has been dropping for far longer than file-sharing has been popular.

The “big hit or we die” situation has absolutely nothing to do with file sharing. That seems to be more of a product of the get rich quick financial environment.

I have been enjoying small/low-budget indie films for many years and haven’t seen a drop in their quality. But I’m more of a fan than an YMMV

Parker (profile) says:

Too bad not everyone sees it this way...

…especially the guys that made the amazing vikings versus aliens movie, Outlander.
In a blog post, they complain that their film was one of the most downloaded (“stolen”, as they say) on filesharing sites one week:

The comments are especially worth reading.

Matt (profile) says:

movie industry != music industry

Sadly, I see file sharing having the opposite effect in the movie industry than it does in the music industry. For file sharing to not hurt the profit of movies, the theater has to offer something that home viewing cannot. With the increasing emphasis on large screens and special effects, other aspects of movies are more likely to get neglected.

I want more than just all Michael-Bay-style explosions in my movies, so I hope I’m wrong.

chris (profile) says:

Re: movie industry != music industry

For file sharing to not hurt the profit of movies, the theater has to offer something that home viewing cannot. With the increasing emphasis on large screens and special effects, other aspects of movies are more likely to get neglected.

i went to see the watchmen opener, and it was great. i went with a bunch of friends, we hung out with other hardcore fans, and we had a blast. waiting in line with a hundreds of total strangers that are just as excited as you are is something you can’t pirate or get at home.

also, there have been a few 3d flicks (mostly kid movies) that have been fun to go see.

Cam.Eltoh says:

Re: movie industry != music industry

I don’t think filesharing has any effect on the profit the movie makes (this also applies to music) For the most part if you are downloading the movie/music you weren’t gonna pay to see/hear the movie/music. If anything it increases profit, If you’re like me and really enjoyed a movie you downloaded, then maybe you will actually go out and see it on the big screen? I know I’m not gonna waste my money on a movie that’s not worth my 10$, consider it a.. preview. Same goes for music if I like the music I’ll buy some merch or go to their concert If I hadn’t downloaded it I most likely wouldn’t have heard it because Im not about to go blow 20 or 30$ on a new cd.
Sorry if that was a little hard to read I get quite worked up about these things 😛

Anonymous Coward says:

Since you have been saying that the thing studio’s should be worrying about is the quality of their movies and not piracy, this article seems kind of dumb, unless you look at it in a way that if I cut my feet off, I will save money because I won’t have to buy shoes.

Speaking of that, maybe a good business idea. Start a company that makes closed ended pants or maybe socks for people with no feet. Maybe we could call it StubHub? Doh.

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