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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Miles Maker, 16 Nov 2009 @ 10:40pm

    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: "Brown Baby" Website "Brown Baby" on Twitter: "Brown Baby" on Facebook:

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2009 @ 12:03am

    1)Beg for charity while bleeding money!

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

  3. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 17 Nov 2009 @ 1:38am

    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 is doing this sort of thing. No doubt many others are too.

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

  4. icon
    Lisae Boucher (profile), 17 Nov 2009 @ 2:14am

    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.

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

  5. icon
    xenomancer (profile), 17 Nov 2009 @ 5:02am

    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.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2009 @ 8:19am

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

    Is there ANY outcome that you might regard as failure? At all?

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2009 @ 8:28am


    if(&newbusinessmodel >= &oldbusinessmodel){

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

  8. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Nov 2009 @ 5:56pm


    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.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2009 @ 12:11pm

    "So, as a marketing tool, it sure seems like giving this movie away has been quite useful."

    Your words, not mine.

    I think most would read that you find this experiment to be a success ("quite useful") of some kind.

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

  10. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 26 Feb 2011 @ 9:05pm


    They made their nut, at least.

    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
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.