Piracy has become an increasingly significant issue for movies over the years. It poses as a huge threat to filmmakers, who lose millions every year because of it – and many have deemed it to be damaging the credibility of the industry.
For independent films, there are huge risks and challenges attached to bringing a project to fruition. Funding your own movie from start to finish is a financial strain. And piracy could mean not receiving any profit at all – a very painful experience for everyone involved.
An increasing number of independent filmmakers use crowdfunding sites and, as they are using finances raised by a multitude of people to help produce their film, there is a gamble involved. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter require that users must reach their goal before they receive their funds, so the pressure to raise enough to get a project underway is considerable.
It is challenging for crowdfunded films to match up to the bigger titles made by established names in the business. A film directed by James Cameron or a film by Joe Bloggs – which would you pick?
So independent filmmakers not only have to raise the money, they also have to raise their profile, get themselves noticed, make a name for themselves as directors. As musician and crowdfunding pioneer Amanda Palmer puts it: “We’ve been asking the wrong question and approaching the problem the wrong way. For years now, we’ve been asking, “How do we make people pay for music” when we should have been asking “How do we let people pay for music?” The same can be applied to films.
A common perk in film crowdfunding is the movie itself – people are essentially pre-ordering either a download or a DVD version of the finished product. So if the fans want to see the movie, they have to pay for it. If the campaign is run correctly, and the financial goal is reached, directors should be able to pay themselves and their cast (even though the pay may not be a significant amount). As they are paid prior to completion of the movie, they can analyse if there is a sufficient audience for success. In this situation, piracy has no effect on the amount of people paying to see a film.
Piracy can have another advantage for smaller, crowdfunded movies. Once a film has been released it can increase the audience, giving a less well-known filmmaker support for future campaigns. In this instance the pirate could almost be considered a part of the film’s marketing, opening it up to a wider audience. Ultimately, when starting out, the more people who watch your film the better. So while we don’t condone piracy, or anything illegal, there is always a silver lining.
What are your thoughts on piracy in relation to crowdfunded films, or piracy in general? Let us know below…