One of the core ideas I have for the new Nerdy Little Secret is one that I feel is a concept that if it can gain enough traction will help us to better support indie filmmakers. It call it The Fishing Boat Initiative.
Picture this: a legendary pirate ship with a ruthless captain and crew, spoken about in hushed tones in inns and taverns from shore to shore. Relentless, with a crew of every race, creed, religion and gender they are near unstoppable and when their flag is spied on the horizon even the mightiest of ships and most experienced of captains fall prey to their unquenchable thirst for any and all forms of loot.
Picture, then, the lowly fisherman. Working to feed and support his family he has a tiny boat that barely holds him, his equipment, and his meager catch each day. Just enough to keep his family satisfied with enough left over to sell or barter with at the local market, it is a simple living but one that he loves despite his near-poverty. Though of little account outside of his tiny shore community he just wishes to keep on working for his family in the hope of perhaps a better future for his children. Unfortunately he too fears the pirate ship of legend and he has been caught by their all-seeing eye on more than one occasion. He gives up his goods willingly and lowers his head in deference to the sneering faces of the thieves taking away his livelihood.
But why? This is a question he must answer when he comes home to his beleaguered wife and hungry children. He has no answer. Why do these pirates raid the richest of freight vessels, take the weapons and pride of many a battleship commander and crew, yet still steal the food out of the mouths of the poor and the needy? Why does this fisherman of little account suffer the same way that the rich and the strong do? Why do these pirates show no mercy? Claim right to his day’s catch like they would a king’s treasure?
Yes, it’s fucking bullshit.
I felt the idea of the fishing boat, the small vessel minding its own business but being the victim of piracy nevertheless was a good way to symbolize the plight of independent filmmakers and internet piracy. Piracy has been around as long as the internet, really its been around longer if you count magnetic tapes. Hell, I had two VCRs in my room so I could copy a movie or make a compilation for somebody. When Napster was at it’s peak pretty much everybody snagged a song or two. But then as broadband, bittorrent, seedboxes, and other technologies became more available then it became easier and easier to download movies, TV shows, video games and so on. As a result if you look for something hard enough you can probably find somewhere you can download, stream or otherwise access media illegally without having to pay for it. For some they argue it’s their right, others blame the industry itself for not making their product easier to access. While there are many arguments many scoff at the mainstream distributors who claim they are losing out on billions of dollars or whatever. There’s not much sympathy going around when that unfinished version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine ended up on Megaupload.
Whichever way you look at it, there truly is one group of the industry that genuinely loses money when their work is pirated and that’s independent media creators. A film is made on a shoestring budget by a bunch of people throwing caution to the wind and going out and making something because they LOVE what they’re doing and YOU download that? THAT is fucking bullshit. You’re not stealing from a cruel, uncaring giant corporation you’re stealing directly from other human beings. I have never understood why this distinction doesn’t appear to be recognized or understood and it just seems to me that the pirates just don’t know any better. They don’t know where these movies come from and they don’t really care. This is how The Battery can be treated the same way as Man of Steel in the eyes of the torrenters, it’s not necessarily malicious but it certainly is ignorant.
So to finally get to the point this is why I conceived of this idea, this Fishing Boat Initiative. There needs to be a change and while it’s usually the big studios and corporations who are behind the times, this is one instance where the internet is being wrongheaded about something. Pirating a big budget movie is not the same as pirating an indie movie. In a world where the internet allows independent creators to cut through the crap of needing a middle man just to get their movie seen, now they can deliver directly to the consumer. This not only means the creators see more of the profit but it allows the willing customer the chance to experience great things for a fraction of what they would normally pay. Louis C.K. was one of the most famous pioneers of just selling his stuff himself, DRM free, for just five dollars. VHX has allowed the makers of movies like The Battery a chance to do the same. How clueless are you that won’t even pay FIVE BUCKS for a good night of entertainment? It’s like the internet has been perhaps the best and worst thing that ever happened to independent media.
So what can we do? We can certainly discuss raising awareness be it through social media, maybe even posting comments to torrent sites. But this is what communities are for, in discussing ideas and building upon them. It is my hope that we can gain some traction with this and build on something that will truly make a difference. I believe we can shift the balance in the favor of these artists who dare to make their dreams come true even if they don’t have millions of dollars to do it. They deserve to have their creations appreciated and deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. So who’s with me?
staff at nerdy little secret dot com