The Future is Free

(This is a short version of a much longer post)

    There are some major shifts going on in Hollywood right now. Those shifts are mainly because technology is changing everything.

    File sharing is the norm, and it’s only going to grow. The reason is, however good a product is, it’s impossible to compete with the same product when it’s free. People will always choose free. Free also solves the problem of art being something only rich people can enjoy.

    I’ve been having a lot of discussions over the last few months with the pirate parties of the world, the file sharing people, the hacking community, and fans of ALGORITHM around the world. Those conversations have led me to believe that a new distribution model is needed. 

    The new model has to do all of the following: 1. Make a good movie; 2. Make it easy to buy;  3. It must be available everywhere in the world at the same time; 4. It must be viewable on every device: TV, computer, mobile, tablet, etc.; 5. It must be affordable (read: as close to free as possible).

    The great thing about technology, and the Internet, is that it’s given many of the tools that used to be prohibitively expensive, it’s made those tools affordable to people like me who can’t bankroll a major movie. And, this includes distribution too. 

    The current method of distribution is corrupt. Even insiders like Tim League, the Founder/CEO of Alamo Draft House admits that they are greedy and not to be trusted. Most independent movies fight, hard, to get the attention of a distributor because that’s the model that everyone believes in. Once the miracle of getting a distributor interested in a movie happens, they’ll offer an advance to lure in the producers. That advance is often the only money the producers will ever see. 

    Hollywood is broken, from the basic way its run to the way it interacts with the audience. This is an interesting problem and forces the question, can movies continue to exist in a sustainable way. Again, Tim League said anyone who says they know what the Hollywood landscape will be like in 5 years is lying.

    As an independent creator, I have to ask that question. I have to think about it and see if there is a viable model. My livelihood depends on it, as does my creative future.

    This is going to come as a bit of a shocker to most people in Hollywood. It was a revelation to me when I finally ran the numbers. But, it’s too elegant not to try. Youtube. More specifically, ad supported Youtube. That’s what we’re doing with ALGORITHM on Sunday December 7th, 2014, at 12:01am (Pacific). It satisfies every single one of the 5 requirements and takes the price away as a deciding factor, while still paying content creators.

    There are quite a few people who make a living by putting content up on Youtube, paid for by ads. These ads can either be through Google directly, or they can be product placement. The fact that the model works isn’t the argument. It works spectacularly for what I call short-form content. The question is, will it work for longer movies?

    No one knows if this model will work. It’s never really been tried. Hollywood can’t do it because they have a business model and legal obligations. There’s just too much risk, and it would set a very dangerous-for-them precedent if it did work. But I have no such obligations. I have no investors. Everyone who worked on ALGORITHM is more interested in exposure than they are in ALGORITHM making money. They’ve all told me that. And ALGORITHM’s already gotten way more exposure than any other project they’ve done.

    Now, it’s about experimenting. It’s about pioneering, to see if I can make a sustainable model for the future of movie making… or at least my future in it. That experiment starts on December 7, 2014 at 12:01am Pacific time: at