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.