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What if copyright law is more complicated then a damn flower?
October 23, 2009 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Take my movie—please. Nasty Old People is a Swedish movie about just that. However, it's been released freely on the web by its creator, Hanna Sköld, under a Creative Commons License, being the first Swedish film to do so.

The CC License it is under allows the movie to be redistributed, screened, remixed- anything you want, as long as Hanna and the rest of the team behind the movie is credited.

Going on a "pay as much as you feel like model", the creator has so far gotten back about 2,000 euros from the internet community- a little more then 20% of the bank loan the creator took out to make the film. Not to mention popularity: the film has been downloaded 30,000 times in over 100 countries.

It's a kick in the face to the MPAA, whose cries that sites like The Pirate Bay are "killing entertainment" have been largely disregarded in the success stories of these indie efforts.
posted by Askiba (36 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd say a 20% recoup on a loan for a movie is a failure. Also, you cannot eat "popularity."

That said, I hope this works in the long-run.
posted by basicchannel at 4:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


But you can eat press coverage, if you eat the news papers that run your story. More coverage = more sheets = more filling!
posted by filthy light thief at 4:35 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lately I've seen a lot of things being revealed as the first Creative Commons licensed X ever, and CC ain't that young.. I bet fifty bucks that someone else has already released a Swedish* film* under CC license. Don't push being the first ever, because unless you wrote the license, and are a media creator, you're probably not.

*these definitions are subjective and debatable.
posted by Science! at 4:49 PM on October 23, 2009


I'd say a 20% recoup on a loan for a movie is a failure.

To be fair it's only been out two weeks.

...on the other hand, 2000 might be the ceiling if all his mates and the people who have been following the project have already chipped in.
posted by Artw at 4:52 PM on October 23, 2009


Hmm... Apparently he took 1500 of that in the first week, so it's not looking that great.

Maybe he could sell T-Shirts?
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on October 23, 2009


Also, you cannot eat "popularity."

Contrariwise, money won't get you into heaven.
posted by DU at 4:54 PM on October 23, 2009


> I'd say a 20% recoup on a loan for a movie is a failure.

I'm not sure of the upload date, but it looks like its been out a bit over a week. That's pretty good.

(On Preview: Dammit, Artw!)

"Give away and pray" isn't the best business model, but its surprising how often it works. Usually, there's an existing community (e.g., fans or a band or subgenre of music.) I'm not sure how that works here, possibly because the Pirate Bay has embraced it?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:54 PM on October 23, 2009


A 20% recoup less than 2 weeks after you release is extremely good. Most shorts never make any money and most no/low-budget straight-to-DVD films take at least a year to make their money back. At this rate, the film may be in profit by the end of the year. In ~5 years of working in indie film, this would be the first profitable short I've encountered. I've worked on a few that broke even, but only if you use some creative accounting. So, big props to Hanna.

Also, I want to know what kind of banks they have in Sweden that lend money for short films. Well, maybe they thought it was being used for something else, like student expenses or home improvements :-)
posted by anigbrowl at 4:55 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


At this rate

Well, yeah, there's some assumptions there.
posted by Artw at 4:56 PM on October 23, 2009


Apparently he took 1500 of that in the first week, so it's not looking that great.

(sorry, shoulda previewed...) Well, things often go in waves. That $2000 was before MeFi started spreading it around. From here it'll probably show up on another 10 blogs over the weekend. The thing about internet/viral marketing is that it ratchets up, compared to the usual studio practise of putting a lot of money into creating the big open and then waiting for a long tail of DVD sales.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:58 PM on October 23, 2009


Maybe. Boing Boing would count for way way more, and that's pretty much assured to give them some coverage, on the other hand I've seen internet promoted creative projects sink like a rock more often than I've seen successive spikes in traffic build into something steady.

(I'm probably being a bit mean, but ridiculous stick-it-to-the-man hyperbole brings that out in me.)
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]



Artw: "Maybe he could sell T-Shirts?"

Hanna is a boy?
posted by idiopath at 5:05 PM on October 23, 2009


Also, you cannot eat "popularity."

Contrariwise, money won't get you into heaven.


I am willing to test this hypothesis. I believe that a sufficiently tall tower of money (or built from materials paid for with said monies) could elevate me to the level of heaven. Even if I didn't make it that far, I'd be well above the chumps gracious benefactors who supported my noble attempt. I will attempt in the name of science, and none other. I will greet god with a fist full of dollars, and say "Pleased to meet you. How much for the little girl? How much for the women? Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters... sell them to me. Sell me your children."
posted by filthy light thief at 5:07 PM on October 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hanna is a boy?

So is Barbera.

Hey-oooooo!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:09 PM on October 23, 2009


Also, self-faceplant for calling it a short...it's an 84 minute feature.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:11 PM on October 23, 2009


A bit of clarification on my own reasoning-

I take "success story" to mean "people like it and want to support it" more then "they made a billion dollars but they're soulless bastards". To me, that's success, even if technically they haven't quite broke even (yet).

Also, I don't mean to frame this post in a "the industry sucks, up with indie!". Maybe slightly, because I'll admit I'm human and I have bias, of course- but really, it's more about the fact that there is a ridiculous notion being spread by most big companies that Pirate Bay and Peer to Peer in general can do no good- a story like this clearly illustrates the opposite.

And in terms of popularity in general: maybe Hanna won't break even here. But then her name will be known, and her next project would be hyped up, maybe an even larger success. Not even in terms of personal success- it's a win for the communities that support this sort of message, and it might encourage further experimentation, which isn't generally a bad thing when it comes to freely licensed content. It's a lot of ifs. You have to admit, you at least might like the point of this whole project, what it's going for.

Also, I'd be proud of us all if we were even slightly responsible for an increase in donations to this team. Go internet!
posted by Askiba at 5:29 PM on October 23, 2009


Hannah Sköld
posted by jeanmari at 5:33 PM on October 23, 2009


Sorry, wrong link. Hannah Sköld
posted by jeanmari at 5:40 PM on October 23, 2009


Contrariwise, money won't get you into heaven.

Well, what's that Led Zeppelin song about then?
posted by philip-random at 6:11 PM on October 23, 2009


Thank you jeanmari, that translation is hysterical.
posted by cyphill at 6:36 PM on October 23, 2009


I am seeding the torrent right now, I just got done watching the film.

It skirts dangerously close to the "idealistic young person brings new purpose to the lives of the elderly" cliché, if not jumping right in, but manages to to be something more interesting than that, in my opinion.

The quality is impressive, especially relative to the budget. I would recommend seeing it even if the distribution method were not so novel.

The fact that it is released under an open license is intriguing, and I am tempted to work on an alternate score or something (don't hold your breath for that though, I will probably do a scene for the sake of the exercise and my own amusement and leave it at that, if anything).

On a completely different note, Star Wreck is a Finnish film, and much more the kind of thing I would expect to see released on the net under a creative commons license.
posted by idiopath at 8:02 PM on October 23, 2009


But you can eat press coverage, if you eat the news papers that run your story.

Yes, for your much-needed roughage and essential inks!
posted by turgid dahlia at 11:01 PM on October 23, 2009


I'd say a 20% recoup on a loan for a movie is a failure. Also, you cannot eat "popularity."

 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, budget: $102M.
 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, first week gross: $30M.

That's about 30%, and that's a big hit. Most films never make that much back.
posted by rokusan at 11:29 PM on October 23, 2009


...and it made $24.6 million the second week, so it's steadily earning and half way to paying for itself. Nasty Old People started with a spike in it's first week and then tailed off. Now, as anigbrowl says these things tend to go in waves. Looks like it's already had it's Boing Boing coverage so unless they revist the story it won't be getting another spike from them, and as I mentioned before they would probably be the big one, but that it isn't to say that there couldn't be other traffic spikes from other sites showing an interest.
posted by Artw at 12:40 AM on October 24, 2009


...and it made $24.6 million the second week, so it's steadily earning and half way to paying for itself

But that's being driven by being on cinema marquees and paid-for adverts, and there'll be more money making opportunities form the DVD release and TV rights and merch and so on.

With low budget online distribution, you pretty much get your link on Boing Boing and that's it. And Boing Boing are only linking it because of the CC thing, which kind of undermines the validity of the experiment.
posted by cillit bang at 4:03 AM on October 24, 2009


For most people, a 20% recoup is an 80% loss. In other words, she has lost 8000 euros on this venture. She could have bought a car for that kind of money.
Of course, she may yet recover more money, especially after the BoingBoing link. But still, the chances of breaking even, let alone making a profit, are looking quite dire, even more so for anybody who tries to replicate this without the novelty aspect.
So, rather than "kicking the MPAA in the face", she appears to have inadvertently offered them quite solid proof of their arguments.
posted by Skeptic at 6:15 AM on October 24, 2009


And if I yearned for "popularity" so badly, distributing 100 euro bills to all and sundry would probably be more cost-effective (and less tiring) than spending 8000 euros of my money in a film about nasty old people.
posted by Skeptic at 6:19 AM on October 24, 2009


That $2000 was before MeFi started spreading it around.

The film was promoted on the front pages of the Pirate Bay and Digg over a week ago. Boing Boing too, as previously mentioned. You'd think they could've earned more with that kind of promotion. I doubt MeFi traffic will count for much compared to those sites.
posted by skullbee at 6:38 AM on October 24, 2009


Surely this isn't simply a question of money - it's also about how many people actually watch it, and thanks to the creative commons license, contribute to it. How many would have watched it had it been released in the ordinary way? And what kind of returns would you be able to expect from a low budget swedish indie film if it had been released conventionally?

To reduce it to a question of percentages is missing the point somewhat. To be completely honest, it kind of fits that the first comment to a post implicitly talking up the strengths of the exercise was one that rejected the proposition, deeming it a 'failure'. Doubtless if the post had been written to deride the project and its unusual release, we would have seen more people rushing to its defence. Ah well.

**Mental Note: Use reverse psychology on metafilter**
posted by jrengreen at 6:41 AM on October 24, 2009


The Google translation is actually somewhat intelligible.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:14 AM on October 24, 2009


Surely this isn't simply a question of money - it's also about how many people actually watch it

Has anyone watched it? For all we know the donations all came from the director's mates and a few CC supporters, none of whom have sat through the thing.
posted by cillit bang at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2009


Again with the money. 30,000 downloads! Even if it's free, these people are presumably watching it.
posted by jrengreen at 7:44 AM on October 24, 2009


But "film posted online for free and linked to by lots of the most popular sites on the internet and receives 30,000 views" is not a story, except possibly in USA Today ca. 2002.

The reason I bring up money is because that would be a story. Because it would mean people who take out massive loans to make a film might have a shot at paying them back and being able to make another one.

Alternatively, if there was some way that CC licensing contributed (other than as a publicity hook) to the number of eyeballs the film received, that would also be a story.
posted by cillit bang at 8:27 AM on October 24, 2009


Also, to put things into perspective, 30,000 views (and download!=view) is less than 5 smallish theatres (300 seats each) running just 3 sessions a day for only one week. Clearly not a blockbuster, then...
posted by Skeptic at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2009


Skeptic: Your example overstates things. How many movies play to full auditoriums at every single screening...? I see your point, though.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2009


I think you've all missed the point : Hanna Sköld now has the street cred needed for other projects, like films with real financial backing or lucrative television commercials. How much did your buddy pay for his MBA?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:26 AM on November 12, 2009


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