How an Audience-Distributed Film Won Big: talk at WordCamp SF

Karl Fogel

Update — video available: (start at 2 min 24 sec to skip unrelated intro about conference lunch)

Update — slides available: ODP PDF

I gave a talk at WordCamp San Francisco this Saturday, May 1st: Bodysurfing the Blogosphere: How an Audience-Distributed Film Won Big. It’s an in-depth look at how audience distribution worked for Nina Paley’s freely-licensed film “Sita Sings the Blues”. The talk was live-streamed, and we expect to have the downloadable video in a few days; we’ll post it when it’s available.

Think of this talk as the story behind the numbers, with a big nod to the disintermediation technologies (including WordPress, which I’ve had running my personal blog for years) that made it possible for a filmmaker’s audience to become both her primary distributor and her primary source of income; the film also has commercial distributors, and I talked about that too.

Speaking of the blogosphere:

Our Artist-in-Residence, Nina Paley, has written a terrific post on her blog about why she stuck to her guns (er, or her USB sticks) and told Netflix no on DRM. She explained that they were welcome to offer her film Sita Sings the Blues on their streaming service only if they could offer it without Digital Restrictions Management that would interfere with viewers’ ability to see, save, and share the film. Netflix wouldn’t take off the DRM, and although Nina, as the licenseholder, could have granted them an exception, she chose not to, despite the considerable potential loss to her in viewers and in money.

She’s gotten a lot of comments on her decision, with some people saying they didn’t understand her objection to DRM on a streaming service. So she wrote a followup post What’s wrong with “streaming” DRM? that explains the issue so clearly that we’ll probably be appropriating it for this site at some point :-).

Enjoy both posts, and remember: one way to support her decision is to donate to the Sita Distribution Project. We’ve seen a spike in donations since she made her decision public, and that’s a great feeling.

3 Comments on "How an Audience-Distributed Film Won Big: talk at WordCamp SF"

  1. That is awesome, Kfogel. I fully support you in explaining how the cobbler model works.  Someday, though, you’ll be doing an article about my work. 😉  What you and Nina have been doing is really inspiring me to go with my guts.

    There are other ways of producing art besides the model of writing a proposal to a publisher and hope that they will go for it.  The cobbler way is much, much easier thanks to the Internet.

    Elton J Robb.

  2. Hey, thanks for the words of encouragement, and right back at ya.  We might just get a world where artists look for approval directly from audiences, instead of from gatekeepers — imagine that!

  3. It’s the best way to get better. 🙂  The Audience is at once just, merciful, and unforgiving.  Gatekeepers are incredibly Arbitrary, but the audiences are actually just.  Your work lives by the audience’s merit.  And with CC, the audience can take your work and improve it. 🙂

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