Australian Government Funds BitTorrent Release Sci-Fi TV Series

Shrugging off the bad publicity BitTorrent has received in Australia during recent years, the Australian Federal Government has decided to give a considerable boost to filmmakers choosing the format for distribution. With a contribution of $350,000 the Government has invested in a forthcoming sc-fi TV series from the makers of The Tunnel, a horror show that launched on BitTorrent in 2011.

screenaussieIn June 2010, Julian Harvey and Enzo Tedeschi who together form Australia-based Distracted Media, announced a crowd-funding campaign for a brand new movie.

The Tunnel, a horror movie set in the abandoned real-life tunnels under Sydney, was to be financed by the 135K Project, a reference to the 135,000 frames that people could buy individually to make up the finished product.

The movie launched on BitTorrent during 2011 in a tie up with BitTorrent Inc. and indie platform VODO, was shown on TV, and also pulled off a deal with Paramount Pictures.

While BitTorrent releases are now much more common than they were a few years ago, Distracted Media’s new BitTorrent project is of particular interest due to the way it’s being funded.

Next year Distracted Media will start filming Airlock, a new sci-fi thriller TV series set on a derelict space ship and an isolated space station. They’re going to be looking to raise $100,000 via a Kickstarter campaign set to launch in the next few hours but Enzo and Julian have already secured additional significant funding from an interesting source.

Screen Australia is the Australian Federal Government’s main funding body for the promotion, development and distribution of Australian screen content. The government body has dug deep, awarding $350,000 to produce the series, a first for a BitTorrent-focused release.

Airlock

“We’ve been talking with Screen Australia’s various departments since The Tunnel was released. To their credit, some of them actually sought us out in order to work out what we did and why,” Distracted Media’s Enzo Tedeschi told TorrentFreak.

“There’s still a certain amount of mystery surrounding it for many, but they get that there’s a huge potential audience there for legitimately released shows and films.”

Once the show is produced it will premiere on BitTorrent, although at the moment the show isn’t locked into BitTorrent Inc. or VODO as The Tunnel was. The episodes are likely to be released on torrents each week with other formats following after.

But despite the successes, there have been problems for Distracted to negotiate on the way.

“We faced a sizable backlash from ‘traditional’ media when we did The Tunnel, despite the torrent release being completely authorized by us and on the up-and-up,” Enzo explains.

“We even got blocked from major retailers stocking the DVDs at release despite having Transmission / Paramount on board distributing them in Australia. We also encountered resistance from Movie Extra when we wanted to release our last online show – Event Zero – via torrents as well.”

So considering those obstacles, what does it feel like to have financial backing from the government for a BitTorrent release?

“With Australia having such a huge rate of piracy per capita, the dreaded ‘t’-word is often a problem politically, so to speak, in the film and TV industry. To have Screen Australia fund Airlock with its torrent release strategy and no other traditional ‘broadcast partners’ locked in
is pretty significant for us. It feels like a vindication of the last couple of years, that people have actually been listening,” Enzo concludes.

The Airlock homepage currently features a countdown which by the time you read this should be nearing its conclusion, signaling the launch of the Kickstarter campaign which will feature all the usual perks for contributors.

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