What's wrong with copyright?
Inherently? Nothing. Free Cinema is not "anti" intellectual property. However, Free Cinema does believe that there is no reason for independent filmmakers to emulate Hollywood's fiercely protective stance toward copyright. Copyright is a certain asset that you possess. It can be used in many ways. Selling it permanently to a studio conglomerate is one way. Giving it away to the public at large is another.
Free Cinema is opposed the copyright extremism that dominates our popular culture at present. One purpose of this website is to give exposure to some ideas about copyright that tend not to be acknowledged in the film trade press or even in nominally "indie" publications.
For more on copyright extremism, see the Articles section.
A copyleft simply means that the filmmaker
allows others to copy or make new works out of his or her film, as long
as those other works are governed by the same license. You can make a
new film out of my film, but you have to let others have the same
freedom with the one you make.
Free Cinema films will use the Share
Alike license that has been created by the Creative Commons project. Creative Commons--with its innovative licenses, a
strong base of support,
and a commitment to free
culture--is leading the way for artists in this new territory.
What's wrong with having a budget?
Nothing. But it is possible to make a feature film without financing now, and therefore not pre-sell your copyright to anyone. And when it comes time to give it away, it'll be easier.
Isn't it impossible to make a film without a lot of money?
Not anymore. Why free filmmaking isn't widespread yet, like creating software or writing plays or
recording music for free, is probably that it takes a while to adapt
to change. Independent filmmakers have generally modeled their
production methods on Hollywood--drafting a budget, hiring specialists,
"time equals money" philosophy--no
matter how much they scale them down. This made sense when indie
productions were indeed scaled-down Hollywood films, with 16mm cameras
instead of 35mm, a total cast/crew of 50 instead of 500,
post-production at second-rate facilities instead of first-rate.
But now that the camera is not an expense, and the crew might just be
you, and the post-production facility is your apartment, a truly new
model, not just an adapted model, is possible.
How are these "free" films going to get seen?
While no money may be spent to produce a Free Cinema film, there is no
such restriction when it comes to distribution. Free Cinema wants the
films to be seen. The assumption is that one can get a film into a
condition ready to be seen at a film festival--or at least
submitted--without spending cash. After that, however, hard costs will
likely come into play, and you are free to make any kind of deal
necessary to achieve the widest possible distribution for your movie
(provided it accommodates the "Share Alike" license).
How would a world without copyright extremism be a better world?
Imagine that one day you get the idea to make a movie about what is in
that briefcase in Pulp Fiction (the one whose
glowing contents everyone looks at in awe but we never see). In fact,
you and your friends decide to make a series of shorts with different
ideas about what is in that briefcase, and you intercut your stories
with some original Pulp Fiction
footage, creating a work with parallel realities to
go along with Quentin Tarantino's original vision. You put this new work
on a DVD and sell it on the Web, where other people who are obsessed
with Pulp Fiction buy it and
find it enormously entertaining. It provokes a trend--another group of
friends makes their own version, and soon many people around the world
are doing the same thing, and the movies get better and better as the
different filmmakers challenge each other, like jazz musicians riffing
on the same theme.
Of course, such an explosion of creativity would be morally repugnant,
or at least that is the way conventional wisdom would have us view it.
It would be a copyright violation.
It would be piracy. What
would Tarantino think? Obviously, he would have to approve each and
every one of these things. Miramax, too, which means the Walt Disney
Company's battalion of attorneys would have to go over every detail. Oh,
yeah--and every actor pictured would have to sign off (while you're at
it, youd better make sure all of it is okayed by the Screen Actors
Guild), as well as the composer of any music used. Money would have to
be paid, contracts negotiated, lawyers enriched.
So, of course, it would never happen. But if Pulp Fiction were a Free Cinema
film, it could. A Free Cinema film is yours to build on. Excited about
all this new technology you can use to make films, but a bit paralyzed
by the whole blank-page thing? Do what thousands of artists before
you—that is to say, in the days before copyright extremism—have done in
the same situation: Grab something else and start playing. Grab a Free
Cinema film. Make a minor character in the original into the protagonist
of your film. Use whatever footage from the original suits your needs.
Or do a remake of the film, using the script but not any footage. Or
just do your own remix of the original. Throw it into iMovie and cut it the way you
would like it to be cut. Make it say something else, if you want. Do
with it as you will. And you can do it all out in the open, even in a commercial
marketplace if you like. Your use of the original is not some shameful
act limited to distribution in the darknet.
You might have to buy a copy, but Free Cinema films are free. Rip, mix,
burn. It's your movie.
Is Free Cinema asserting that all films should be made by the Free Cinema rules?
Have a question?