My buddy Matt wrote a great post called Convenience and music piracy about the changing landscape of how media is bought and consumed. While Matt focuses on convenience, I look to filmmaker Tom Lowe, director of a beautiful film called TimeScapes, as the leader in the redefinition of independent film production and distribution’s business model.
If you haven’t seen the trailer for TimeScapes, stop reading, click this link, have your mind blown, then come back and continue reading my thoughts (or not, the trailer is that good!)
The Free Market
Lowe’s business approach to filmmaking fills me with hope and excitement for the future of independent film production. He set out to make the film he wanted to make and lived in his truck for two years capturing amazing time-lapsed spectacles of nature.
Not only that, but he has redefined the distribution of his product. A glance at the “Buy the movie” page on TimeScapes.org reveals three product categories: Special Edition (Includes The Making of TimeScapes, Behind the music, Production photos, and a Director’s Commentary), Standard Edition, and the Soundtrack.
Here is where the innovation begins.
For the Special Edition of TimeScapes:
- Blu-ray $39.95
- HD download (1080p, 720p or 480p) $24.95
- 30″ HD Download (2560x1440p for 27-30 inch monitors) $39.95
- Retina HD Download (2880 x 1620 for MacBook Pro Retina Laptops) $39.95
- DVD – NTSC & PAL $29.95
- 4K Edition (4096×2304, 21Gb file on a USB stick) $99.95
- 4K Cineform (4096×2304, 140Gb, 12-bit, hard drive) $299.95
The Special Edition alone has 10 options tailored to your specific viewing experience. I remember when the MacBook Pro Retina Laptops were announced, Lowe announced the Retina HD version soon after.
This embracement of a new way to do business has led to his film about to turn a profit. In an article on TechCrunch.com on June 9, 2012, Lowe announced the film cost $300K and has sold about $200K from his website.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes enough money to fund his next film entirely from the profits.
Address Piracy, Attack the Status Quo
The next surprise happened when TimeScapes showed up on the infamous site, The Pirate Bay. Instead of playing the game like Hollywood and suing people for doing this (probably because he doesn’t have the infinitely deep pockets funded by Battleship), he instead issued this response on the site itself:
Greetings. I am Tom Lowe, the person who spent two years of his life living out of a Toyota pickup truck to make this film. If you enjoy it, please consider buying a copy from our website at TimeScapes.org or at iTunes, or maybe giving it as a gift to a friend, so we can recover the money we invested in the film, and then make some more films for your enjoyment.
In the follow-up interview with TechCrunch.com, Lowe had this to say about piracy:
I just see piracy as a reality. I don’t really see it as good or bad. Artists need to accept that this is reality now, and adapt their business models around reality.
Piracy is a reality and in order for independent artists and filmmakers to profit from your work, you need to focus on selling more legal copies in order to offset the losses from piracy and not spending an exorbitant amount of money from your revenue streams to fund your lawyer’s script he is probably waiting to fund from the next piracy witch-hunt.
The Free Market Still Exists
Mr. Lowe has proven to me that the free market is alive and well in the independent world of media production. It still takes a lot of time and money up front, but the rewards do exist. I can’t wait to purchase his video, specifically the 30″ HD Download Special Edition, because it will look BEAUTIFUL on my iMac.
I am inspired by Mr. Lowe’s artistic and business savvy. He is the poster boy for Artistic Entrepreneurship.