2010-06-19

FOLLOW-UP: The Film Industry's Next Avatar

This comes from this article (writer Enigmax, Torrent Freak) on filmmaker Enzo Tedeschi's plan to distribute his new movie The Tunnel for free through torrent sites. (Yes, I know the site is called "Torrent Freak", but the article is mostly quotes from Tedeschi himself apart from the introduction about the evils of Hollywood's modus operandi.) People get to buy individual frames of the movie for $1 each — $25 gives one second of the movie (because this movie has a frame rate of 25 FPS), so $1500 gets a full minute of the movie. Along with this, one randomly selected investor gets a 1% cut of the profits (as a sort of investment lottery). Follow the jump for my take.

Just like James Cameron, Enzo Tedeschi gets it. He says outright that Hollywood's way of doing business does nothing to actually combat the (questionable) evils of piracy; all the while, it alienates casual movie watchers who want to watch movies legally.
He knows that it is futile to resist and clamp down on new technologies like online torrenting. Instead, he readily embraces it as the new distribution platform for movies. Unlike James Cameron, who has the resources to release movies into theaters (and thus can make movies with effects that make watching the movie in a theater worth much more than watching it on one's TV/computer), Tedeschi is not releasing this movie to theaters (and hasn't released any of his recent movies to theaters). Despite this, he anticipates making well over $135000 (the break-even point, leading one to conclude that there are 135000 frames in the movie), therefore allowing him to give that lucky investor 1% of the profits.
I would say that this would succeed for another reason as well (beyond using instead of restricting torrents): people will now have a personal stake in the movie. This isn't just another movie to watch; they own parts of the movie now. If viewers want the movie to come out, they need to put money and effort into ensuring that can happen.
Of course, my cynical side came out in the form of this question: what would copyright-happy people do? Would they start to claim copyrights over their frames of the movie and charge royalties for use of their frames? On the other hand, would they even be the sort of people to support such a new and revolutionary form of moviemaking as a business?

3 comments:

  1. Hello Prashanth,

    Thanks very much for your blog post - as a big fan of his films, I appreciate the Camereon comparison, but I feel it's probably a more-than-slight exaggeration :)

    But I will say, as you've said of me, you get it. People who are buying frames are personally emotionally invested in the movie, and we're able to engage with our audience from the very beginning. We know people like what we are doing, or they wouldn't be buying frames.

    As for the question of copyright, we are not asking people to invest, nor are we assigning any copyright. This is clearly stated in the terms and conditions on the website:

    http://www.thetunnelmovie.net/termsconditions.php/

    It's kind of like buying a print of a famous painting. You buy a print that you can display in your home and appreciate, but you don't own the original painting itself in any way.

    Thanks for your support, and I hope this clarifies things!

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  2. Holy crap, I got a blog post comment from the filmmaker himself! You have no idea how grateful I am for this!
    It really does clarify things, thanks for that. My original question was whether other people, after buying a frame, would claim copyright over it (without your permission), but your comparison to buying a work of art for display in one's home really clears things up.
    Again, thank you so much for the comment!

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  3. You're welcome. Thanks for doing your part to spread the word.

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