Skateboard Legend Stacy Peralta Demonstrates His Latest Trick: Cashing In By Going Direct-To-Fan

from the how-it-all-works dept

Last August, we wrote about an experiment by famous skateboarder and filmmaker Stacy Peralta to self-distribute his latest film, Bones Brigade, about the famous skateboarding crew Peralta himself had put together a few decades ago (the crew included some of the most famous skateboarders ever: Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero, Mike McGill and Tommy Guerrero). Peralta had shown the film at Sundance last year, which is where most filmmakers go to try to “sell” their film to a studio/distributor to go make something of it. However, Peralta turned down all such offers (some for significant money), and instead went the “direct to fan” self-distribution path, using tools like TopSpin, and partnering with companies like BitTorrent as well. That’s what we wrote about in August.

Now, as the latest Sundance is underway, TopSpin’s Bob Moczydlowsky has a post with some details of how it all went, noting that going direct to fan was massively successful for Peralta, allowing him to both make more money and still retain the rights to the film, rather than selling them off to some other entity.

And now, a year after the Sundance premiere and six months from the start of the direct-to-fan release powered by Topspin, Film Sales Company and our partners awe.sm and The Uprising Creative Stacy has earned more from direct sales than he would have from the combined total of the domestic and foreign sales offers. And, because a Topspin direct release does not require licensing rights, Stacy and Andrew Herwitz from Film Sales Company were then able to do their own Transactional VOD and Third-party license deals. Stacy and his financing partners quickly recouped the budget of the film, and the copyright remains in their hands for the future.

That really is the key. “I self financed, got the investment back, am now in profit and I own the copyright and will continue to earn all other sales for the next ten years,” says Stacy. “And it is all because I was empowered for the very first time to really do it myself from start to finish. Topspin has done for distribution what the Handycam did for shooting or the Avid did for editing. Topspin put it all in my hands and suddenly everything I needed was within my reach: pure and simple filmmakers democracy.”

They also included a nice little pie chart (to scale), showing how much bigger the pie was with what Peralta ended up doing:

This is not to say, of course, that the same thing is true for everyone who tries to go direct to fan. It’s right for some people, and not right for others. But the key thing here is that there are more options and many of those options not only leave the actual creators with more control, but also allow them to expand the pie.

One of the more frustrating aspects of discussing these business model issues with some people is their assumption that the “pie” is static (or, worse, shrinking). It’s a classic mistake in economics for those who think that everything is a zero sum game. But one of the great things about new technologies and services is how they enable a much broader audience and increase the opportunities, opening up wider possibilities — especially for creators who really know how to engage with their fans.

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Companies: bittorrent, topspin

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Comments on “Skateboard Legend Stacy Peralta Demonstrates His Latest Trick: Cashing In By Going Direct-To-Fan”

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13 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Pie does shrink

Of course the pie is shrinking… if you go with traditional methods. The traditional methods are becoming less and less successful, losing adopters, and thus require the middlemen to keep a larger part of the pie.

So, anyone claiming the pie is shrinking just doesn’t realize that they can get their pie elsewhere if they want.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Pie does shrink

It’s not even so much about the “pie” shrinking rather than that the traditional models keep it deliberately small in the hopes of getting larger returns in the long run. Format & regional windowing, price gouging, DRM, exclusive deals with specific outlets – these all reduce the number of people either willing or able to pay for the product in question. That used to be a desirable, even necessary, process in previous market realities, but it’s becoming more of a liability now.

That’s the biggest lesson in my mind with these models. Offering DRM-free product when and where consumers want it (and not freaking out when people bypass any blocks you still have in place) is going to increase your potential market and thus your revenue.

I’m sure bob will be by soon to tell us why this doesn’t count because his preferred corporation wouldn’t recoup the $300 million they wanked away on a shoddy script, but for many filmmakers this is definitely the way forward.

Anonymous Coward says:

One has to wonder, if the direct to fan model doesn’t also have some benefit to the governments, (who otherwise are so desperate to pass unneeded legislation in an attempt to prevent a non problem for the traditional studios while the traditional studios ignore the real problem of changing how they do business) in that without holywood accounting, they may actually receive more revenue from taxation from those engaging in these newer means of funding with the obvious exception of those parts where the likes of itunes and amazon are involved of course.

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