More than a decade ago, Hollywood was struggling to get to grips with the file-sharing phenomenon. Sharing via BitTorrent was painted as a disease that could kill the movie industry, if it was allowed to take hold. Tough action was the only way to defeat it, the suits concluded.
In 2007, however, a most unusual turn of events showed that piracy could have a magical effect on the success of a movie.
After being produced on a tiny budget, a then little-known independent sci-fi film called “The Man from Earth” turned up on pirate sites, to the surprise of its creators.
“Originally, somebody got hold of a promotional screener DVD of ‘Jerome Bixby’s The Man from Earth’, ripped the file and posted the movie online before we knew what was even happening,” Man from Earth director Richard Schenkman informs TorrentFreak.
“A week or two before the DVD’s ‘street date’, we jumped 11,000% on the IMDb ‘Moviemeter’ and we were shocked.”
With pirates fueling interest in the movie, a member of the team took an unusual step. Producer Eric Wilkinson wrote to RLSlog, a popular piracy links site – not to berate pirates – but to thank them for catapulting the movie to fame.
“Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download. Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded ‘The Man From Earth’ has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!” he wrote.
Richard Schenkman told TF this morning that availability on file-sharing networks was important for the movie, since it wasn’t available through legitimate means in most countries. So, the team called out to fans for help, if they’d pirated the movie and had liked what they’d seen.
“Once we realized what was going on, we asked people to make donations to our PayPal page if they saw the movie for free and liked it, because we had all worked for nothing for two years to bring it to the screen, and the only chance we had of surviving financially was to ask people to support us and the project,” Schenkman explains.
“And, happily, many people around the world did donate, although of course only a tiny fraction of the millions and millions of people who downloaded pirated copies.”
Following this early boost The Man from Earth went on to win multiple awards. And, a decade on, it boasts a hugely commendable 8/10 score on IMDb from more than 147,000 voters, with Netflix users leaving over 650,000 ratings, which reportedly translates to well over a million views.
It’s a performance director Richard Schenkman would like to repeat with his sequel: The Man from Earth: Holocene. This time, however, he won’t be leaving the piracy aspect to chance.
Yesterday the team behind the movie took matters into their own hands, uploading the movie to The Pirate Bay and other sites so that fans can help themselves.
“It was going to get uploaded regardless of what we did or didn’t do, and we figured that as long as this was inevitable, we would do the uploading ourselves and explain why we were doing it,” Schenkman informs TF.
“And, we would once again reach out to the filesharing community and remind them that while movies may be free to watch, they are not free to make, and we need their support.”
The release, listed here on The Pirate Bay, comes with detailed notes and a few friendly pointers on how the release can be further shared. It also informs people how they can show their appreciation if they like it.
“It’s a revolutionary global experiment in the honor system. We’re asking people: ‘If you watch our movie, and you like it, will you pay something directly to the people who made it?’,” Schenkman says.
“That’s why we’re so grateful to all of you who visit ManFromEarth.com and make a donation – of any size – if you’ve watched the movie without paying for it up front.”
In addition to using The Pirate Bay – which is often and incorrectly berated as a purely ‘pirate’ platform with no legitimate uses – the team has also teamed up with OpenSubtitles, so translations for the movie are available right from the beginning.
Other partners include MovieSaints.com, where fans can pay to see the movie from January 19 but get a full refund if they don’t enjoy it. It’s also available on Vimeo (see below) but the version seen by pirates is slightly different, and for good reason, Schenkman says.
“This version of the movie includes a greeting from me at the beginning, pointing out that we did indeed upload the movie ourselves, and asking people to visit manfromearth.com and make a donation if they can afford to, and if they enjoyed the film.
“The version we posted is very high-resolution, although we are also sharing some smaller files for those folks who have a slow Internet connection where they live,” he explains.
“We’re asking people to share ONLY this version of the movie — NOT to edit off the appeal message. And of course we’re asking people not to post the movie at YouTube or any other platform where someone (other than us) could profit financially from it. That would not be fair, nor in keeping with the spirit of what we’re trying to do.”
It’s not often we’re able to do this so it’s a pleasure to say that The Man from Earth: Holocene can be downloaded from The Pirate Bay, in various qualities and entirely legally, here. For those who want to show their appreciation, the tip jar is here.
from TorrentFreak http://ift.tt/2EKQ9a7