What we can learn from the piracy of ‘The Interview’

With all the hullabaloo about ‘The Interview’ it is no surprise that people wanted to see it. But, it is only legally available in the US and Canada.

So, when TorrentFreak writes about the stats of who is pirating it I think we can see that a new global distribution method needs to be in place. When I raised these issues at this year’s Raindance Film Festival several studio people said it was impossible to release a movie at the same time all over the world because of subtitling and windowing and etc etc. I replied – you know how manages to do it? Pirates. The excuse that it is too difficult doesn’t fly – and it certainly doesn’t fly for the public.

When will studios understand that the ‘regioning’ system of breaking the world up into chunks just doesn’t work anymore. Piracy is about access. Not about criminality.

The Piracy Problem – how the entertainment industry has learned nothing

Good article from TorrentFreak pointing out the obviously – shutting down (perhaps permanently, perhaps not) The Pirate Bay does little except inspire pirates who had become complacent by TPB’s ubiquitousness, to develop new schemes of sharing. This legal action will – already has, in fact – fuel new technologies. Which is kind of cool, even if done for the ‘wrong’ reason.

They also have a great title for the article.

And read the comments – like why this proves the world will never become like Star Trek.

Suffer no illusions – for most of us there is no ‘film business’ any more

It’s pretty grim reading.

Modern cinema icons like Spike Lee, David Lynch, John Waters and more can’t get movies made. As detailed in this somber article from Flavorwire.com, there is no such thing as a mid-budget film any more.

If you think you are going to get into this business and have a career like you imagined your cinema heroes had, you are wrong. Simple as that.

Am I saying don’t try? No. But be aware of the situation out there. And make the most amazing, incredible films you can for the money you can find. Films that appeal to the masses, or a big enough mass, that will get you noticed by studio, press and audience alike.

But it’s going to be tough. For the foreseeable future.

Japan’s new law effectively silences political documentary filmmakers (and others)

Today, Dec 10th 2014, a new law went into effect in Japan. This law (see article below) gives stiff penalties to those deemed to be leaking state secrets and, more terrifyingly, those who request the information!

This will stop the production of any documentaries not just about Japan’s politicians and their corruption but also anything about the fiasco that is the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Any story that might be touched by government action is now in jeopardy as what exactly is considered a ‘state secret’ can be redefined at any time (under the terms of the law).

I am not a political person per se, but even I can see how this could directly impact me. If I start complaining about the lack of tax and government support for the film industry – and seek to dig into it – could even I, a lowly blogger, be in violation of the law? Only time will tell.

It is a dark day for personal freedom in Japan.

No, actually, maybe it’s a great time to be an indie filmmaker

Instead of the usual doom and gloom about the state of the film business and the declining fate of indie films and filmmakers, IndieWire had a guest article written by filmmaker Naomi McDougall Jones. Jones is the writer/producer/actress behind “Imagine I’m Beautiful”, an indie drama about a mentally ill woman. I have not seen the film, so I can’t comment on it, but, in the article Jones talks about how Hollywood’s increasing focus on high concept remake driven content is creating a vacuum for indie filmmakers. Ergo, it is a great time to be an indie filmmaker.

I am a cynical old bastard, but, as much as I want to break out the pom-poms and rah rah rah, I see some slight holes in Jones’ article.

First, Jones talks about how “Imagine” was made for (only) $80k. It will play 10 cities and be available on iTunes, Vimeo and unnamed ‘other platforms’. She then states “we stand a pretty darn good chance of recouping our investors’ money in full”. Um. $80k is not a lot of money. If you are doing theatrical and online in such a loud and proud manner then I think you shouldn’t be speculating whether you can make it back or not.

Second, like a lot of indie’s, Jones has a go at mainstream media, saying it is not satisfying (as many) customers as before. That may well be true. But, hundreds of millions of people are going to see these unsatisfying films. I do not subscribe to this theory that ‘the public are stupid’. In at least 10 cities the public will have a chance to choose between unsatisfying mainstream films and Jones’ picture. It’s disheartening, but, the majority will choose the mainstream. Even of those that hear about Jones’ picture will still choose the mainstream.

There is nothing wrong with making a mainstream, culturally non-nuanced film. Or having the occasional explosion. The average audience member does not want to be ‘challenged’. Until indie filmmakers accept this, embrace this, and still manage to make clever stories that can be filmed at their budget level yet entertain then there will be trouble.

Why do you THINK indie horror is the only genre that continuously banks the bucks? It delivers what the average horror audience wants.

I am not saying Jones’ film is bad. It’s probably pretty good and might appeal to US coastal audiences (the mentality of whom I probably share). And if I get a chance to see her film here in Japan I’ll watch it. And I wish her success. But success (financially) will only come when lots of people want to see a film.

Here’s her article.

I Wanna Be A Producer: Episode 1

Some (few) of you might be wondering who is this Phil behind Phil’s Film Links!

I’ve started a new vlog (please God there must be a better term than this!) to chronicle my path to produerdom. I’ll be posting bi-weekly updates on YouTube, with an article here.

I’m still getting my vlogging (argh!) skills in check, so at the moment it is a bit simple.

Feel free to comment either here, on twitter or on YouTube itself.