Last week, The Yes Men‘s Mike Bonnano was interviewed on CBS News about the VODO release of The Yes Men Fix The World. He talks about how VODO & P2P is working for the Yes Men as a way of putting out work that traditional TV and cinema distribution would find it hard to distribute. (The Yes Men have had about a quarter of a million downloads and $17,000 in donations via VODO in the week or so since their release.)
Also last week, Italy’s national newspaper La Repubblica had a nice piece from Alessio Sgherza in his “Watch With Me” column on the popular made-for-VODO show i Pioneer One , which has been downloaded nearly a million times and received about $30,000 dollars in direct audience support since its release a little more than a month ago.
‘This is the future,’ they write,
merging Web and TV. No budget of millions and it’s not even on television. Pioneer One is a low-cost series financed with money from users who’ve seen the first episode. Having enjoyed it, they’ve agreed to support the project to see new episodes before they’re made. A small clarification: though it’s never been broadcast on TV, you can download Pioneer One online without legal problems. And it’s not too difficult.
No special effects or complex shots, but a simple execution of a clean and intriguing storyline. “My intent,” says Josh Bernard, one of the creators of the project, “is a a drama with a few elements of science fiction.”
The paper continues,
What is Vodo? Whenever we speak of ‘downloading from the internet’ one immediately thinks of piracy, but there is also a world of legal downloading online. In this legal world of films and independent productions, we often hear the name of VODO.
Each month a film is selected and distributed online via P2P. Yes, the same technology behind the Pirate Bay, but here it is entirely lawful. To download, the easiest way is to install a program for downloading a torrent (BitTorrent is the most famous) and go VODO’s site. Simple.
There’s no problem with language, because you an always download free download subtitles (via a dedicated page on the website Addicted).
And now? Creators Bernhard and Smith, along with cast and crew, are beginning to work on new episodes. “For sure TV is undergoing a renaissance,” says Josh. “Many people of my generation [Josh is 26] are still watching TV –- we just do not watch it on television.”
Download the first episode of Pioneer One to enter the future of TV, thanks to a series that has nothing to envy other commercial products..
So far, most of the coverage about VODO has been in blogs and foreign press*, so it’s really gratifying to start seeing coverage in major english-language press too. The New York Times leads the way:
You Too Can Fund a TV Show
In tough economic times, creators have to get a little more creative about funding their projects. Witness the success of Diaspora’s efforts on Kickstarter.com and Jill Sobule’s recent donor-backed album. Filmmakers Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith are now attempting to fund the development of a TV series, Pioneer One, through individual donors. They’ve successfully raised $6,000 for the pilot episode (available on Vodo), and are hoping to raise an additional $20,000 for the next three episodes. (HT: Daniel Gaglio)
*We have a theory about why. Apply within for details.
Last Thursday, we released Pioneer One, the made-for-VODO ‘TV’ series by writer/producer Josh Bernhard and director Bracey Smith. Bernhard and Smith’s previous indie feature, The Lionshare had previously been VODO’s biggest release to date with around 450,000 downloads. Pioneer One has all-but smashed that record in just under a week, reaching just over 420,000 downloads by Wednesday 23rd June* and putting the production on track for a million downloads in the first month.
At the same time, in just under a week, $16,000 has been donated to the show’s creators, who are set to easily exceed their target of $20,000 to produce the new episodes.
Elisa Poggese: I watched, I donated. Man, I’d never thought I would be willing to pay for a torrent. Keep up the good work. — Facebook. .
As well as being our biggest release to date, this has also been the first in which we trialled a commercial sponsorship deal, running a thirty second spot from branding agency MOFILM (‘helping aspiring filmmakers create videos for big brands and social causes’). We’ll be splitting the revenue from this campaign 50/50 with the creators of the show, augmenting their budget for the next episodes. (By the way, for fans wondering when they can expect new installments: Josh is currently writing the next batch of episodes, and the team are aiming to start production early September.)
Zim: Brilliant. I love the fact this isn’t polished and buffed and faked up, that the actors aren’t superactors on their 50th take. It lends to a realisticish documentary feel and the plot is far more fun than some generic pander-to-the-masses-three-hits-and-you’re-done-mediocrity. More please. — VODO comments.
Together, we plan to take our fanbase to further sponsors to see who’ll get behind the show as it grows. The experiment with MOFILM’s spot — however it works out commercially — has already taught us something important. We have seen very few complaints on the sponsorship-model — perhaps as few as two or three — from a very vocal community of viewers more than capable of making their feelings known. And in general, the versions of Pioneer One that have been re-encoded and are floating around the networks have retained the commercial pre-roll. Clearly, the P2P community is ready to accept well-done, sensitive brand-sponsorship and branded content as a way of underwriting creation and distribution of content. This is going to be important to supporting the development of an independent, free-to-share film culture.
Kallie Hedberg: I was skeptical, but I assumed the story would make up for the low production values. It did! And the show looked better than BBC productions… nice effects. Very excited for the next one.
On the back of Pioneer One’s early success, Pravda considered VODO’s business model, asking whether the free-to-share, P2P distribution model held the promise of a transformation in how the business of media is carried out. They are the first note how simple our idea really is: ‘the system can be used quite pragmatically: bring brands to this audience of millions in free, social exchange, and monitor trackers in order to obtain additional useful statistics [and then convey that to brands].’ Well, it’s not that simple to monitor all the trackers out there, but we mostly rely on our own, and we’re working intensively with our partners to make sure that we get stats and demographics that our partners need.
This doesn’t mean that peers (that’s you and me) stop being important. On the contrary, the only reason that Pioneer One can work is the co-operation of millions of ordinary people sharing bandwidth and connections to get the film promoted and distributed. Hundreds of terabytes — quite literally — have already been exchanged already to get Pioneer One out there. In a very real way this distribution of the show, in full HD, is underwritten by the fans and supporters who continue to seed it a week after its release. (It’s amusing to note that the fact that Pioneer One still has around 30,000 seeders today makes it the most shared ‘TV’ show on the internet, beating both new episodes of HBO’s highly popular, excellent and vastly more expensive True Blood.) And remember, it’s us peers who paid for the Pioneer One pilot. The entirety of the $6000 budget was raised on Kickstarter.
Hairmare: I watched #pioneerone yesterday and now I’m longing for new EPs #vodo — Twitter
We think we’re at the beginning of an exciting phase of VODO’s development. As the ‘sky falls‘ on independent culture looking for success within the traditional distribution system, it seems like we’re falling upwards, into a world of free-to-share distribution backed by fans, brands and creators alike. We’re not there yet, but with this Pioneer One release, we’ve made a significant step.
The final word goes to the DISCO (Distribution Coalition) members who’ve supported Pioneer One. New to the DISCO are uTorrent and Limewire, both of whom have promoted the release very prominently and have brought large numbers of viewers to the show. Thanks to all at Frostwire, The Pirate Bay, Isohunt and all the others who supported us from the beginning and continue to promote our releases. As we strive to make people aware of what we’re doing and help them discover great new work from talented creators, this group of committed distributors continues to be invaluable.
Ryanmercer: Liked the pilot! Donated 5 bucks, all I can afford (had to preorder my iPhone 4) if I remember I’ll donate some more next pay day! — VODO Comments
Here’s hoping that all our continued support and enthusiasm — and our money — will make the next episodes of Pioneer One even better. Congratulations to Josh, Bracey and the team!
*Based on statistics from VODO’s tracker, total Unique IPs in the swarm and compeleted downloads of the .torrents, amended to take into account DHT and PEX.
We are delighted to announce that Limewire , which reportedly has by far the largest user base of all P2P clients, is joining VODO’s Distribution Coalition (DISCO). The forthcoming VODO release, soon to be announced, will be promoted to Limewire users in a unique arrangement between VODO and the company.
Given that Limewire is estimated be installed on an astonishing 17% of all home PCs, this is a big win for VODO artists seeking exposure and the chance to connect with new fans.
It’s fantastic that Limewire is supporting creators’ use of P2P and helping establish an important new distribution channel, at a time when it’s getting harder than ever to distribute independent culture through traditional means. Thanks Limewire: we welcome you to VODO & the DISCO family.
It’s great to see a ‘traditional’ TV magazine, Germany’s ‘number one TV magazine’ Hörzu, reviewing a VODO release. We’re grateful for progressive print media realising that ‘real’ films don’t have to come out in the cinema or on TV – a proper net distribution can easily rival the amount of viewers associated with a small terrestrial or cable screening, so shouldn’t viewers be entitled to a review from their trusted source? They sure should. Here’s a translated excerpt of what Hörzu’s Tanja Beeskow had to say:
“Copy me!” is the call of David Miller. His documentary “In Guantanamo” should see as many people as possible. He makes a close examination of the U.S. prison camp in Cuba, and shows how reporting is controlled by the U.S. military.
In May 2008 David Miller travels with his team for three days to Guantanamo. Together with other journalists, he was there to look around the site. But he finds that critical reporting is impossible – the U.S. military makes the event into a PR event.
The reporting is carefully controlled. The censorship of the images is evident in almost every scene. Everywhere are signs to draw attention to the recording ban. People whose faces can not be filmed are seen in abundance. As a journalist accidentally films cameras that he hasn’t seen, he has to go through all his shorts and delete these scenes. Carefully controlled, the military presented the clean side of the prison.
They also include a link to the film so that readers can download it and share it. Without wanting to be patronising, we think that’s pretty cool for a TV magazine!
VODO has a write up from Omar Yanez at New Business Model: File-sharing site coalition to distribute indie flicks.
From the article:
An interesting aspect of this model, aside from the use of P2P technology to distribute and promote the film, but that the downloaders can donate to the movie’s creator. VODO is expected to roll-out a series of revenue offerings for creators, while still maintaining its free sharing core.
This is what technology and innovative models are good for, empowering creators to gain audiences.
Right now one’s stance on movie piracy doesn’t really matter – because it’s happening. But there’s a wonderfully viable response to this fact in the new upstart VODO, founded by STEAL THIS FILM moviemaker Jamie King. They’ve struck deals with the biggest P2P sites (BitTorrent behemoths Pirate Bay and Mininova included) to promote the independent films that VODO recommends. opening these small films up to an unprecedented number of viewers – who are then encouraged to donate money to the moviemaker.
If anyone knows where we can buy a copy in Berlin, let us know so we can check out the full story. Update: Moviemaker were kind enough to send us a copy so now we can reproduce the article, below. Thanks!
VODO’s Jamie King will be taking part in Da Forum Cultura Digital Brasileira in Sao Paulo next week. The ‘Brazilian Digital Culture Forum’ is hosted by the Ministry of Culture and the National Education and Research Network (RNP). Its purpose is to produce public policies for the contemporary Brazil. The Forum intends to propose guidelines for access, production, dissemination,preservation and free movement of culture in the digital age across these five ‘axes’:
1. Digital Memory (archives, history and future);
2. Economics of Digital Culture (shared economic benefits, public interest and market )
3. Digital Infoway (infrastructure, access and inclusion);
4. Art in the Digital Age (language, democratization and remix), and
5. Digital Communication (language, media and convergence).
VODO is honoured to be amongst the international invitees and to be taking part.
If anyone could help us update the translation of this, we’d be grateful!
Amidst all the proposals to fight piracy, new approaches other than the repressive route are appearing. The latest is VODO, a platform that acts as an intermediary between download enthusiasts and creators. The latter make their works avaialble on the site, which makes possible a direct return through discretionary donations.
Logically, the system shouldn’t win over the American majors who won’t find it cost-effective given the huge budgets of their films. Instead, VODO is focusing on independent productions and filmmakers.
The increasing number of downloads of Us Now seem to support the principle. The documentary looks at the phenomenon of emergent economies, following a football team run by its fans, a bank where management is shared between each employees and couch surfing, sharing ones apartment with travelers.
(Thanks for the help AT.)
A few new articles on VODO since the first release:
VODO means ‘Voluntary Donation’ (Catflap, P2PNET)
Just a few years ago this might have been an unattainable pipe dream. They said it could never be done. But we have news for them. It is being done. Right now… Artists, writers, and creators, don’t wait for the trickle-down effect for your royalties after your masters grab the lion’s share of profits from your talents. Go VODO. Get noticed. And start earning.
VODO Embraces BitTorrent to Distribute Movies, Compensate Filmmakers (Janko Roettgers, New Tee Vee)
Free movies through torrents (My Broadband)
Having been vilified by the big business of Hollywood and record companies, the benefits of peer-to-peer technology are often overlooked.
- Mathilde’s Misses: A Story Of The World’s First Homeless Beauty Pageant – Free-To-Share On VODO
- We’re doing something amazing… (or VODO is DOWN!)
- Warring Factions – A Story Of Breakdancing Across US/Iranian Divides, Free-To-Share On VODO
- The Harvest Project – A Surgical Thriller, Free-To-Share On VODO
- Till You Get To Baraboo – An Indie Rom Com, Free-To-Share On VODO