Nasty Old People, Give It Away And Pray And Releasing Movies For File Sharing

from the another-one dept

We were just talking about some indie filmmakers who were happy with the extra attention they’ve been getting from having their movie “leaked” on BitTorrent, and ChurchHatesTucker alerts us to another story of filmmakers embracing file sharing. This one is actually from a few weeks ago, but a Swedish filmmaker made a low budget indie film called Nasty Old People and released it under a Creative Commons license, along with a request for donations. The link is to Metafilter where there’s an interesting discussion about whether or not the experiment is a “success” or a “failure.” It’s a bit of a mixed bag, as at the time of the discussion, the filmmaker had made back 20% of the film’s budget and there were questions if it would get much higher. Thus, it was easy for some to quickly call it a clear failure.

Of course, it’s not really that simple. First, I’ve said for years that I’m no fan of “give it away and pray” business models, which really aren’t business models at all. While it works sometimes, it’s pretty much a crapshoot, and never strikes me as a real business model. So, on the whole, I’m not too surprised that it didn’t bring in much more than 20% of its budget in 2 weeks (though some compare it to blockbuster movies that can often make about the same % of their budgets in the early going.

However, if we compare this situation to what would have happened otherwise (i.e., if the movie were not released this way) the situation becomes a little more interesting. This was a very low budget indie film that likely would not have received any distribution at all. At best, the filmmaker perhaps could have self-printed DVDs, and would have been lucky to have sold a dozen or two. She could have tried to enter it into various film festivals, but that’s quite difficult, and even then there’s a pretty good chance that the movie doesn’t end up actually making any money. Yet, in this case, she not only made money from donations, but the film is getting picked up and shown in theaters around the world. So, compared to that situation, things actually look better than the alternative.

On top of that, while this particular movie may have been a net loss, she could use it for marketing herself. She can go around and show the movie to others, and perhaps use that to get funding for a larger scale project or another film that’s released with a bit more of a complete business model. Nasty Old People becomes marketing and a promotion for Hanna Skold. It has to be better resume filler for a filmmaker to talk about tens of thousands of people downloading and watching your film than just going in cold saying you want to make a film. And, in fact, she’s already hard at work on a new film script, with many people who became fans of Nasty Old People following along and interested in seeing what the new script is like. So, as a marketing tool, it sure seems like giving this movie away has been quite useful.

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Comments on “Nasty Old People, Give It Away And Pray And Releasing Movies For File Sharing”

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10 Comments
Miles Maker (user link) says:

Hammering the nail in the coffin for Ripoff Indie Dsitributors

Techdirt!

Your insight and ‘glass 1/2 full’ analysis for the “Nasty Old People” producers is bang ON.

Bottom line–if you’re in this business for the long haul, consider each film you make a contribution to your BODY OF WORK. Your audience grows exponentially with each new title–as does your influence and subsequent ability to land bigger and better deals with negotiating leverage moving forward, and when you own your Art you will continue to see sales indefinitely as your new fans discover your previous works. Selling premium content (collector’s DVD’s, case studies, interactive elements) will provide you with a revenue stream in addition to merchandise and speaking engagements, etc.

When you sign your ‘little film that could’ to a distributor that can’t (or won’t) you are signing your film away for a decade or more (probably closer to 20 years) and essentially condemning your intellectual property to certain death by misconception, mismanagement, mismarketing and simply missing the boat.

We are beginning to see reports from reliable market sources confirming that Musicians are actually making the same amount of money and in many cases MORE money than ever before in the wake of a failed recording industry. This is because very little of the loss revenue actually belonged to the Musicians! Artists are far better served when distributing their works themselves using current trends in social media and emerging technologies to connect with audiences who are willing to support their endeavors. Art is FREE; Audience is priceless.

All of this of course relies on smart producers who understand the market and employ an appropriate strategy with the right business model. Damn right I’m gonna give away my $10K movie because it makes all the sense in the world.

Miles Maker
Writer/Director of “Brown Baby” (2010)
The totally FREE movie you can share, remix, re-use and rediscover!
DONATE on IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/brown-baby
“Brown Baby” Website http://www.brownbabymovie.com
“Brown Baby” on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/brownbabymovie
“Brown Baby” on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brownbabymovie

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Get this one free. Buy the next one.

Instead of ‘give it away and pray’, how about considering it a promotional investment, and inviting pledges for the next one (a sequel), e.g. via Kickstarter.

That way no donations are involved, i.e. it’s pure business.

Demonstrate your talent and then invite the resulting audience to commission your next performance. Rinse and repeat. Each performance is paid for by the audience from the previous one. So everyone ends up with movies they can freely share with their friends, and yet the movie maker is paid for their work.

I think http://Vodo.net is doing this sort of thing. No doubt many others are too.

Lisae Boucher (profile) says:

Donated, just to support this initiative.

I have to admit, I’m not interested in this movie. Still, I decided to donate some of my hard-earned money to support this initiative. While “give away and pray” isn’t a very good business plan, I just hope the donation will encourage them to continue making movies for free. And I hope they will consider my donation as an investment in their next movie, instead as a reward for the current one.

Because, honestly? I don’t like this movie. 🙂 But I love to support this kind of initiative.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Listening to the Market

Part of the problem with the MPAA and “give it away and pray” models is the lack of understanding of the audience. We don’t just want to download, and we don’t want to be forced to watch exceedingly horrid movies for the same cost as good movies in theaters without the ability to try before buying (and, no, commercials DO NOT count as trying the movie out). Theaters do not make money on the tickets but they do on concessions and they also provide the venue for social events. Obviously there is room for improvement on the concept, such as tiered contribution and other connecting monetizing opportunities, but the point is the consumers are trying to look out for their personal investment as well as enjoy a movie. The current models only satisfy one of those criteria on occasion.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So far, it’s as if you’ll attempt to spin absolutely anything involving the “New Business Models” into a success of some kind.

I didn’t say it was a success. I’m not sure what post you read. I pretty clearly said I didn’t think it was a very good business model.

But I did say that it got her a lot more attention than if she had done it the other way, which seems like a good deal, if not a success.

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