The war on piracy can be a scary thing, especially if you’re a creative caught between the front lines. Hollywood would love to rid the world of file-sharing. Your audience, on the other hand, seems to consist mostly of pirates that download movies for free, watch unauthorized clips on YouTube and subscribe to Netflix just to make use of their DVD burner.
So how do filmmakers react? Well, some of them have started to embrace piracy and published their own works on sites like The Pirate Bay. Their motivations vary: Some just want to give back to their fans, others don’t like the studio system, and some never would have gotten distribution in the first place. The result, however, is always the same: free movies! For details and download links, read on.
Tommy Pallotta is one of the executive producers of Richard Linklater’s dystopian drugs-meet-visual-effects epic A Scanner Darkly. His latest movie, titled American Prince, is an homage to Martin Scorsese’s documentary American Boy. Pallotta told Torrentfreak that he used BitTorrent extensively to get raw footage for his film, and eventually he just decided to give back and publish the whole thing on Mininova.org. “I wanted to release this film in support of file-sharing and to prove to myself and others that it can have a profoundly positive effect,” he explained. You can download the complete movie here.
Nina Paley got festival prizes and Ebert’s praises for her animated feature film Sita Sings The Blues. However, the movie never got a distribution deal because the rights for the music were simply too expensive. Paley went ahead and paid money for non-commercial distribution and published the movie on Archive.org as well as BitTorrent. Go watch it here.
Michael Moore’s road movie Slacker Uprising documents his 62-city tour during the 2004 election, on which tried to get kids motivated to vote Bush out of office. OK maybe that didn’t really work, but Moore decided to release the movie as a free BitTorrent download nonetheless. Moore had to restrict that release to the U.S. and Canada, but that restriction is fairly easy to circumvent, as Torrentfreak reported last October. Here’s what Moore told the blog: “I only own the U.S. and Canadian rights. So my hands are tied. But this is the 21st century.” Translation: Aren’t all Moore fans Canadians at heart? Dowload the movie here.
Mark Achbar won the Sundance Auience Award for his 2003 capitalism-critical documentary The Corporation and subsequently saw his movie become a big hit on torrent sites. “When I discovered that over 500,000 people had downloaded The Corporation, I had mixed feelings,” he confessed in 2006. Eventually, the desire to get the movie out to an audience won over fears to lose money, and Achbar published a Filmmakers Official Download Edition on The Pirate Bay, which you can download here.
Timo Vuorensola is one of the people behind the Star Wreck series that consists of a mixture of amateur fan films and Leslie Nielsen-like parody homages.
Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning has been downloaded millions of times since it got published online in 2005. The film is now considered the most popular Finnish movie ever. Vuorensola and his friends are currently working on a new movie about Space Nazis. Download In the Pirkinning here.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether those five filmmakers are pioneers or just desperate for an audience. No, really, make up your own mind already — we’re too busy downloading and watching their movies.