Must Read: Ti West's Updated Notes on Piracy Addressed to the Web
Will piracy every go away? Probably not. But the industry is still fighting it every way they can. The way to win the battle, however, is to appeal to the audience's demands and to answer their questions - about why it's so hard to see a film, why they should not just pirate it and wait, and why/how a $10 movie ticket goes a long way in supporting the industry. Horror filmmaker Ti West (The Roost, The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) has taken a stand, writing updated notes this week surrounding the release of his latest, the cult thriller The Sacrament, which just hit VOD ahead of a theatrical release. He writes very smart replies to tough questions with good explanations behind why there's not much they can do about all these problems.
The full note is a must read and can be found on Ti West's site at glasseyepix.com where he explains that he felt he only needed to follow-up his first open letter on piracy from 2011 with a few answers to questions. "Briefly address a couple of thoughts not fully articulated back in 2011. These seemed to be the two most common rationalizations for 'illegal' downloads" - "what if the movie sucks?" and "I live in another country." Some of his best thoughts can be distilled down to these sections quote below, which make so much sense.
...Well, the same goes for supporting indie movies. Ten bucks is not only supporting my movie. It is supporting independent film in general, and the platforms that audiences are seeing them on. I know that sounds grandiose, but it's true, and indie distributors have now come up with numerous ways to support their releases. If you see it on VOD, then you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE INDIE MOVIES ON VOD. If you see it in an indie theater, you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE MOVIES IN INDIE THEATERS (while we're at it, we want more indie theaters in general).
And in the off chance that you happen to see THE SACRAMENT in a multiplex, you are saying YES, WE WANT MORE INDIE MOVIES IN OUR MULTIPLEXES. It's a meaningful contribution. You are creating physical, financial evidence that independent film has value. This, above all else, does not go unnoticed.
I hope that makes sense. I hope it's clear that it's not just about my movie. You don't have to like my movie; you don't even have to see my movie if you don't want to. But surely there is a movie out there, a movie made independently, purely for the love of cinema that you will want to see, and that will mean something to you. It's up to you to support that movie.
It gets even better when he responds to the other question - because it's hard to argue with what he's saying.
I LIVE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY AND CAN'T PURCHASE IT (YET): Yup, we hear you. This is an issue the industry is working hard on. Same day global releases will happen. But it's going to take a little more time for hundreds of distributors around the world to be able to coordinate things perfectly. It's not easy releasing independent films these days, so cut the distributors a little slack so they can solve this problem without going out of business. They are trying. Some better than others, but they still need time.
If a certain movie is not released in your country the same day as in the USA, then surely many others aren't either. Let people know about it. Downloading a movie because "It's not released here, and I wanted to see it so bad I had to pirate it but I will pay for it later" isn't helping. It's actually making it harder to give you what you want. We filmmakers appreciate your passion, and your desire to see our work no matter what. But unfortunately, this is still in the "take one for the team" stage.
Patience is tough these days, but progress is coming. Hang in there. We will work on making better films, and better distribution plans, but we need your help in not taking our legs out from underneath us while we try. It's not perfect, but it's getting better. We can do this together, and vocal awareness speaks much louder for the cause than online piracy.
He's right that pirating isn't helping, but unfortunately nothing much is helping at all and nothing is getting done. No changes for the better are made. Everything remains fragmented and separated and it's going to take some major coordination around the world to actually improve and prevent piracy. In the meantime, it's good the discussion has started, and filmmakers like him are talking about this openly, and honestly. As he says: "Personally, I think it is important to keep talking about these issues (hence the addendum). Conversations about piracy don't have to be condemning. They don't have to be preachy, self serving or reactionary. To me, this is not about 'stealing' as much as it is about 'supporting.' We live in an era where consumers have all the power. That's actually a very cool thing. Let's not waste it." Yes indeed, Mr. West.
Ti West's The Sacrament is available on VOD/iTunes right now, so check it out if you're interested. Read his full addendum here, and if you think he's right, spread the word about his message and his film online. We definitely don't support piracy, but then again, Hollywood isn't helping much with the way they act. We do, above all, support the filmmakers and creators and people who put their hard work into creating these films.