Movie industry lobbyists such as the MPAA frequently claim that piracy is not only hurting the major studios, but also the smaller independent productions.
However, according to independant filmmaker Mark Diestler, it’s not that black and white. Last week his film “The Inner Room” ended up online, and as is so often the case thousands of people started to share the movie on BitTorrent.
Within 24 hours 5,000 people had already grabbed a copy without paying. For some filmmakers this is a nightmare scenario, but Diestler clearly disagrees as he sees all these BitTorrent downloads as a good way to gain exposure for the film that took blood, sweat and tears to make.
“I would much rather have 500,000 downloads than 5,000, although our distributor may feel differently. The worst thing that can happen to a small film, any film for that matter, is to fall into obscurity. 500,000 people could download it and hate it, but in my mind that is better than then not seeing or hearing about it all,” Diestler tells TorrentFreak.
“In the end not everyone is going to hate it, some will like it and you would hope that a lot of people would enjoy it – and even more importantly talk about it. That buzz would hopefully translate to additional sales of the film. People buy the DVD to see the bonus features or just to help support the filmmakers of a film that they really enjoyed.”
The filmmaker explains that unlike the big Hollywood productions, most of the independent films that get made have a negligible advertising budget. For these films, BitTorrent ‘piracy’ serves as promotion. Diestler has witnessed the power of BitTorrent first hand when a friend’s film blew up thanks to piracy two years ago.
“When you are a small film with zero money for advertising, BitTorrent can get your film out there and get people talking about it – that is all advertising really does anyway. It’s certainly an interesting question. Being friends with Jamin and Kiowa Winans – the filmmakers behind the film ‘Ink’ – I am very close to this topic,” he says.
When the “The Inner Room” was released the people behind the movie even toyed with the idea of pirating the film themselves to gain exposure. But eventually they decided to leave that up to the pros.
“I remember the topic coming up with a few people involved in the film a couple of months before the release of our film on DVD if we should consider ‘leaking’ the film to bit torrent. My first response was even I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how. Even more importantly, do it properly. I would have to hire someone to do it! How lame is that?”
“In the end, we figured it would show up on BitTorrent regardless, so no need to post it ourselves. It took a couple of months, but sure enough, it finally showed up. Now we just have to hope to gains steam and people watch the film, enjoy it, and talk about it,” Diestler concludes.
Thus far The Inner Room has done “great” on BitTorrent resulting in the much anticipated buzz. Just a few days after it was pirated the movie saw a huge bump on IMDb’s movie meter where it’s currently ranked 250. And although the exposure is nowhere near that of “Ink,” the makers are content with the publicity BitTorrent pirates have given them thus far.
Update: Mark Diestler asked us to include the following statement.
First off, we have decided to add high quality legal downloads on our website. For the first time anywhere, the film can be downloaded in HD. $9.99 for the HD download, $7.99 for the SD. These are not region specific, so anyone from around the world should be able to download the film. Additionally, there is a donate button for those that would like to support our efforts.
I also feel it should be made clear that:
#1 – I do not own the North American digital rights to the film, with the exception of selling downloads off my website.
#2 – I’m not condoning “piracy” – I am simply proposing that bitTorrent can give added exposure for a micro-budget film such as ours. Even if 10k people download it, that’s about 9,900 more people than would have normally seen/heard about it. So we miss out on 100 potential “sales/rentals”? Even then, those are only potential sales, who knows how many actual sales… 5? I think the exposure of 10k views is probably far more valuable. But maybe I’m completely wrong?
#3 – for those that do bitTorrent the film, if they hate it, they can be happy they didn’t spend any money on the film. While others who enjoyed it may like to help out the filmmakers by making a donation or downloading a copy off our website or buying a dvd or simply talking about the film
Thanks for the support, Mark Diestler, Producer