Self Helpless is the first feature length film ever to employ a specialized promotional campaign surrounding a BitTorrent-only release. We have had a lot of questions since we announced this distribution plan. This should help clarify exactly what the hell we think we are doing.
How will you make money if you are giving the movie away?
We will be releasing Self Helpless on DVD and digital download one week after the torrent-only release. We will be selling t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise ASAP. We are also considering placing 2 short (10 second) advertisements in the torrent version of the movie. If enough people download the movie, we hope to set up a screening tour to visit places where Self Helpless is popular.
If someone has already downloaded the movie why would they buy your DVD?
A few reasons:
1) Movies are more fun to watch on a TV than a computer.
2) If people like a movie they often want to own the official, advertisement free version of it. Some people are just straight up collectors.
3) The DVD has tons of sweet extras like live Devin the Dude concert footage, slide shows, deleted scenes, and behind the scenes footage.
4) A few people will buy a DVD just to support something that they dig.
Are you going to have a donate thingy on your website?
As a group of intelligent, healthy young men, we just don’t feel right about begging people to donate to us. If you like Self Helpless then buy a copy. If you don’t have $15 for a DVD (been there) we will have some cheaper stuff like posters and stickers. If you don’t have any money then just tell a few of your friends about the movie and come see us when we come to your town.
You are the first feature film to launch a promotional campaign supporting a torrent-only release. Why not do something more normal, like submit to film festivals, or distributors?
We made this entire film out of pocket, fueled by raw hustle. We are not interested in sitting around for the next two years waiting for someone to decide that they want to “accept our submission”. That just doesn’t sit well with us. We have the technology to get Self Helpless seen by its target audience without any help from distributors or film festivals. We would be stupid not to release it on our own.
Ok, if you are going to release the movie as a torrent why not just release it on DVD at the same time?
We want as many people as possible to download the torrent version of the movie. If this version ends up containing advertisements then this will mean more exposure for our advertisers (anybody know anyone who works at High Times?). Even if we don’t end up going with the advertisement idea, it is important to us to release the movie exclusively on bit torrent. In a sense we hope that this will prove our model. If we can make a little money off a torrent-only release then we will have effectively proven the absurdity of anti-piracy efforts.
Are you hoping this will get you “discovered”?
Discovered as in money and hot babes start raining from the Los Angeles skies? I guess that would be cool. What we believe will really happen is that this distribution strategy will get Self Helpless seen, by the exact people who we made it for, and by LOTS of them.
Is this just a publicity stunt?
If we manage to get some publicity for creating a very innovative release strategy that would be great. That would probably even help our download numbers. The torrent-only release is simply the best way to get our movie seen by the people who we made it for. From a business standpoint, we would be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity.
Where can I see the movie right now?
We are trying to set up a few screenings before the release. If you sign up for our email list we will let you know as soon as we get stuff scheduled. Other than that, you will be able to pre-order the DVD.
Why so long until the movie is released?
Lot’s of albums get their release date moved up because songs get leaked. We are delaying our release in order to promote it to those very downloaders. I know this sounds backwards. A typical movie release promo campaign takes between 3 and 5 months. We are constructing a full PR campaign to build a buzz around the release of the Self Helpless torrent. We figure, there is a lot of cool stuff out there to download. If we are going to convince people to check out our movie, we are going to have to spend some time letting them know about us.
What if someone leaks the movie?
That would be awesome. Next Question.
Are you trying to create the distribution model that will save my indie film?
No. Our model only works if you manage to create a feature length comedy that is hilarious and quirky, features the acting debut of Devin the Dude, is shot in 2 countries, and contains lots of drugs, guns and crazy Mexican gangsters, all with a budget of $9,500. Oh, and after that you have to edit the movie, compose the soundtrack, license the music, and do all the animation. Then you have to live on people’s floors for a few months, and shovel shit at my grandma’s farm while you save money to put towards your innovative release strategy. Then you have to be willing to work full time for very low pay for the next year after releasing the movie in order to continue to promote it. If you can do all this, and not have your wife/kids/friends completely hate you, then this model might be perfect for you. If not then you should read all of the blogs, and books, and tweets that are out there about indie film distribution. Then you should come up with a better, more original idea that works for your film.
I have a question about your distribution strategy, will you read my email?
I am chained to my computer at all times. I would be more than happy to answer any and all questions, comments, and hate mail.