Movie Studios Have to FearThe first battles fought over data piracy are hard to pin down.   Ever since files have been capable of being copied, they have had the potential to be pirated as well.   The battle started getting real at the advent of Napster, and then later with file sharing websites and software that uses torrents to make downloading of large files easier.   As time has gone on, this has allowed entire full length high-definition movies to be pirated across the Internet for free, potentially costing movie studios a large amount of money.

Super Piracy and High Tech Indie Film Makers

The key word is ‘potential’.   If you walk into a record store with no intention of buying music, you might not buy any music.   If you walk into an alley and a guy is giving away free Bee Gee’s recordings, you might take one, because it’s free.   You could have purchased that same record inside, but chose not to.   The music doesn’t have that kind of value to you.

So is piracy the big problem that movie studios have to fear?   Not necessarily.   If you have a dud of a movie, it’s not likely that anyone is going go to the theatre to see it.   If you give that same movie away on the Internet, someone might download it simply because it’s free.

However, this isn’t always the case.   If a movie is really popular and has a huge potential to make a studio a lot of money in theatres, then having a free pirated copy available online might be a problem.   The question is this: are the people downloading the movie for free because they simply don’t have the money to see it on the big screen?   To put it another way, if they had no option to download the movie for free, would they spend the money on a ticket?

The movie studios assume yes, of course.   The truth is, it’s a question without a reasonable answer.   You can’t blame the movie studios for protecting their property; it’s theirs to protect.   However, is there something else they should be watching out for while they cling ever so close to the digital rights of their movies?

Independent filmmakers have always been around.   Many of them move on to do work for commercial studios.   It would be reasonable to assume that movie studios aren’t threatened by indie film makers because they see them as small potatoes who are unable to attract the attention they would need to steal market shares.   However, the advantages that big movie studios have is shrinking.   Technology is enabling independent filmmakers to make high quality films on a shoestring budget.

Online, independent filmmakers have great opportunities for producing and promoting their work.   A filmmaker can raise money by using crowdfunding campaigns on providers like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.   It’s easy to build up a crew of professionals to help on the film using JuntoBox, which can also be used to pitch and raise money for a film as well.

The Internet doesn’t only help on the developmental side of filmmaking; it’s a good aid for post-production work, too. Indie filmmakers are learning that they don’t need to seek a distributor after a movie is completed.   Anyone can release a movie on YouTube.   If the movie is successful, you can make money through donations, exposure to other products, or through simple ad revenue on the site.   YouTube’s not the only hosting site available.

There is another format that can work to distribute movies.   The comedian, Louis C.K. proved that you can make money simply by selling a stand-up special online without a distributor at all.   Louie made more money than he had in the past using a distributor.   The best part is that he didn’t even charge people to download his special; he simply gave it away and asked people to pay.   Most people were flattered by his approach and paid him well.   Those that didn’t still gave him a huge amount of exposure to boost his live shows.

So in the end, is it clear exactly what big movie studios have to fear?   Not really.   When an independent filmmaker can make the same drama as a big studio but for less money, the potential for profit shrinks when your competition is spending far less.   The biggest advantage that movie studios have is their exposure and their ability to distribute quickly to a mass market.   Technology is shrinking that advantage every day with cheaper software, cheaper cameras, and more powerful personal computers.   The future of film certainly seems bright for indie filmmakers in the long run.