I’m not totally sure what to make of ‘Katana,’ the latest webseries pilot from the folks at Strike.TV.
It is a completely earnest attempt at making a ninja-revenge action film reminiscent of those from the ’70’s complete with well-choreographed fight sequences from clearly professional stunt fighters. As TubeFilter told me:
The hard hitting show stars John Koyama and Yuji Okumoto (also the writer-producer) alongside stunt superstars Al Goto, Sam Looc, and Don Tai. If you haven’t recognized any of those names, check out those IMDB listings, because you’ve definitely seen their movies.
‘Katana’ is part of a new wave of low-budget professionally produced fare finding its way to the web, much of it in the form of tried-and-true film genres like sci-fi and horror. The big question will be whether or not enough fans of these very specific genres will a) find these programs considering the overall lack of marketing budgets and b) if they do, will they really be interested in watching what boils down to cheaper versions of what they get plenty of on both TV and the big screen.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Every year the MPAA claims to be doing everything in its power to stop pirates from destroying the film industry. Of course, what they really mean is that they are wasting millions of dollars and work-hours.
Not only does there seem to be little proof that pirated downloads are actually hurting the film industry’s bottomline but the efforts of the MPAA are doing nothing to stop it:
Waxy.org’s Andy Baio has once again published an extensive collection of data about this year’s Oscar nominations and their availability on P2P networks. He’s been doing this for the last seven years, during which the overall picture has remained pretty much the same; almost all Oscar nominated movies are available on file-sharing networks before the annual awards ceremony. In fact of the 26 movies that were nominated this year, 23 are already available in DVD quality on P2P networks. (via NewTeeVee)
While this same article points out that it is taking longer for pirates to get copies to the internet, by a matter of days from year-to-year, it makes it very clear that the major studios are going to have to figure out a new approach to fighting the pirates other than chasing them around the net with “cease and desist” orders and dragging fans into court.
Maybe they should, um, take a few lessons from the pirates and begin releasing usable digital copies themselves without endless forms of DRM that cripple the end-users ability to do what they want with the movie.
Just a thought.
Let’s face it, the world of cubicle humor, while ripe for the picking, tends to end up being either a ripoff of “Office Space” or “Dilbert.” What makes “Scotty Got an Office Job” so fantastic is that it captures the essence of office life in a completely original and authentic way.
If we are to believe the creator, star, director and editor, Scotty, these are all short films made without the knowledge of his coworkers or superiors. Using a clever combination of webcam and phone-cam along with some great sound effects, Scotty has produced over twenty gloriously short episodes – most are less than a minute.
While this might not be the breakout hit of the season, his work deserves to be seen and appreciated.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
While it certainly helps that the very successful webseries “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” featured a name cast and was created by the much loved (especially by the net-saavy) Joss Whedon, there is a lot for all of us to learn about how to monetize web video.
The secret for Dr. Horrible lies in the use of release windows much like the movie studios have employed for decades.
First, the episodes were available for free streaming online, but only for a limited time.
Next, you were able to pay to download the episodes at iTunes for a small fee. The fee was fair because now you had a version that could travel with you.
Now, Joss and company are releasing a jam-packed DVD with all sorts of value-added extras for even more money.
I’m sure there is a TV license window yet to be exploited as well.
Oh, there’s a soundtrack available, too.
Not only was Whedon able to get enormous amounts of free press and fan favor from the free release but he has understood how to build on that base to actually come out with some cash in his pocket.
While every webseries is not going to be able to do exactly what Whedon has done, it is very important to understand all of the distribution channels that exist and examine how each can best be exploited for your project.
Good article in TubeFilter, too.
In their latest attempt to hold onto their self-proclaimed crumbling empire, the major movie studios are forcing(?) NetFlix and iTunes to remove films from “watch-now” libraries when those same films reach their network TV release window.
This is absurd on so many levels, not the least of which is best put by CNet:
“Normally, release windows don’t affect retailers or video-rental services after they’ve begun selling or renting films. Warner Bros. doesn’t go into Best Buy and pull DVDs off the shelf when Comcast airs Casablanca. The corner Mom and Pop video store doesn’t surrender copies of Gladiator to Universal Studios when the film appears on ABC. But Internet stores are being treated differently. What this means for iTunes and Netflix customers is that movies will pop in and out of the services.” (via)
Not only does this not make sense, but there is no way that having the films available online is going to stop someone dumb enough to watch the edited, commericialed movie on netw0rk TV when they can just rent it – or easily find it on a BitTorrent site.
At the end of the day, this is the major studios once again doing everything in their power to make it a pain in the ass the watch the movies they make.
And they wonder why the pirates do so well. Here’s a hint: they meet the needs of their customers.
On of the many super-cool niches out there on the web is the world of “fanedits.”
As defined by TorrentFreak:
“Taking famous movies as a base, faneditors spend huge amounts of time editing with sophisticated software in order to create improved or just plain different versions of existing movies. Most of the time, faneditors try to improve what is wrong or bad with a movie, using advanced techniques to create a new piece of art based on the original. Of course, faneditors love to share their work with others in the community, something the movie industry wants to bring to an end.”
Now comes word that one of the most popular sites for fans to share their edits is being shut down due to DMCA takedown requests.
Not only is it yet another absurd example of the major motion picture studios attacking the core fans they rely on for ticket sales, but, in this case, it exposed one of the horrible pirates they are trying to stop.
“I am boon23, faneditor and administrator of the biggest fanedits website in the world. I’m a preschool teacher from Europe and as faneditor I post under the name CBB (created by boon) and have so far created 29 fanedits, which is quite a lot. It is my hobby, my art, the thing I really love to do and will continue to do.”
Yup. A preschool teacher. Nice work, guys. Go get ’em!
According to the MPAA, movie piracy is a huge problem that could jeopordize the entire industry. The problem with this theory is that they simply can’t back up the claims with any legitimate data.
Here’s a great example of why they’re full of hot air. The Dark Knight has already made over $1,000,000,000 worldwide and stands to make a hell of a lot more in ancillary markets (DVD, VOD, etc). Yet, the film is also the number one pirated movie on BitTorrent:
“This week, in another round of leaks, DVD-rips of ‘The Dark Knight’ found their way to BitTorrent. Unsurprisingly, given the commercial success of the movie, these were downloaded well over a million times in just a few days.”
So, potentially the number one grossing film of all-time may also be the most pirated of all-time. Explain to me again how this is hurting your core business…