Sunday, November 8, 2009

Piracy, Is it a good thing??? (Jamin Winans INK illegally downloaded 100,000 times in 48 hours)

I was absolutely stunned this morning to find out that Jamin Winans and Kiowa Winans INK was illegally downloaded via bit torrent sites like Pirate Bay (INK was the #1 downloaded film ahead of major Hollywood releases) over 100,000 times.

We just had Jamin and Kiowa on our Film Courage radio show this past week. Their interview has shattered all records for our show from most listens, most downloads, and most page views. All of this in it's first week online. I believe it is a MUST listen. It is an in-depth case study on the money it took to make INK, their decision to retain the rights to their film and self-distribute and even highlights their deals with Blockbuster and Netflix.

Here is the interview: Jamin Winans and Kiowa Winans on Film Courage

So now, just two days away from wide-release on NOVEMBER 10th, 2009, on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Blockbuster (they even have Region 0 DVD's where it can be seen anywhere in the world) the pirates come thieving.

INK packs the house at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on June 10th, 2009

This news has been sinking in all day. On one side it absolutely infuriates me and on the other I am completely overjoyed. I was on the phone with Jamin about 2 or 3 weeks ago and we talked about piracy and bit torrents. We know there is nothing we can do about it. To combat piracy, Jamin and Kiowa have done all they can to make INK available through all major outlets as fast as they humanly could. There is no major studio behind this release. As a matter of fact, if you listen to our interview with Jamin and Kiowa, you will hear them say that up until November 10th all DVD orders are being handled by them right from their house. This is their dedication to get their film out to their fans as soon as they can. I can tell you this, Jamin never imagined that his film would be so popular as to be the #1 illegally downloaded movie anywhere. He was obviously concerned about it being pirated but this is absolutely insane.

I am not a part of any bit torrent sites, so I am not familiar. How common is it for an Independently financed, independently made, and independently distributed film like INK to be in such demand through piracy??? Can you share with me any other specific examples? Is INK in unique territory? Is it just the INK phenomenon?

In our phone conversation, I was telling Jamin that I believe INK is going to be huge when it hits DVD. I never suspected this and I know that Jamin and Kiowa have to both be floored, both positively and negatively.

100,000 legal downloads is enough to instantly take Jamin and Kiowa out of debt. They would be able to pay back their investors which is something they are adamant about. This would immediately send them into the black. For those of you who are not aware, Jamin and Kiowa spent at least a year in pre-production, 80 days in production, almost two years in post-production, and almost a year semi-theatrically distributing the film across the country.

They have now received the ultimate validation on their work. Screw all the distributors and gatekeepers who said no to 'INK.' As a matter of fact Kiowa just wrote a great blog about this very thing on their DoubleEdgeFilms.blogspot site. It is one of the best film blogs out there. If you go back to the first blog and read through, you can be right in the passenger seat with them from the beginning of their the distribution journey.

I just want to urge all of you to see INK, but do it right way. I want to see Jamin and Kiowa Winans continue to make films. Let's support them in a way that enables them to do just that. Buy the film from their site where they offer an amazing package of an autographed DVD/Blu Ray, T-shirt and Poster for $34.99, or you can get INK from Amazon, Blockbuster, Netflix, or iTunes.

There has been tremendous discussion on piracy happening at the INK Facebook Fan Page
(The least some of you who illegally downloaded the film can do is 'Become a Fan')

So what do you think, is Piracy a good thing? Is it going to help Jamin and Kiowa more that they have received all of this 'free advertising?' Is this the best thing that could have happened to them? How does it make you feel?


Mark said...

I kind of feel like the question should be phrased a little differently. More like: "Can piracy benefit the independent film?" or "Can independent films turn piracy into a benefit?"

And in a world where independent films like INK cannot possibly compete in traditional advertising, I think the answer is yes. The film itself becomes a kind of adverisement. This idea was talked about a lot at the DIYDAYS in Philly last summer. And there are some other examples of people doing similar things.

And if I'm not mistaken from your interview, giving SPIN away for free online helped build their fan base and get INK made. What would have happened if they had sat on SPIN and refused to give it to anyone who didn't pay?

Some people suggested that the INK folks add a donate button for people who got it on bittorrent, and I think that is a very good idea. Not only will it be more money for the filmmakers, but provide them with some very valuable information. For instance, they can ask for a little info with the donation, like country, zip, reason for downloading? I think that even simple, non-intrusive into can be very useful.

Regardless, seeing what gracious people they are, I'm sure we'll all benefit from the info they gain from this.

400 Lonely Things said...

I got all fired up about this, too and posted a blog about this mixed blessing here:

MK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MK said...

The internet creates hype and exposure, a huge sales point for the movie, it will sell like crazy. See I never heard of this , so now I am interested and must see it when it comes out on dvd.

Cinema Suicide said...

Piracy can be a good thing for a small movie like Ink. It'll generate buzz on a global scale. The obvious problem is that the hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads are lost sources of revenue, but these are people who probably wouldn't have paid to see it in the first place. Now they're going to spread the word, tell their friends and direct people to the torrent, but even more people, through sheer word of mouth will be accessing it legitimately once it becomes widely available.

Recently, the indie flick, Black Dynamite leaked and the widespread suspicions were that the movie's production company was responsible for it as they proudly proclaimed that the film had gone viral after its leak. Extremely good reviews started popping up all over the place with directions on where the movie can be seen. The profile of this movie, in extremely limited release, suddenly skyrocketed.

So when it comes to piracy, you take the good with the bad. Right now, Ink is receiving a staggering amount of positive press at the expense of sales. This is monstrous PR at a fraction of the cost that any other studio would pay for.

I'm not necessarily in favor of movie piracy as these little indies NEED that money but when the product is genuinely good and good reviews spread across the blogs, this sort of availability can only help the movie in question. Consider it a new sort of test marketing. X-Men Origins: Wolverine also leaked and word of mouth killed it... but only because the movie sucked.

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