I got a call from Finland this morning, where Stephen Lee has set up the open source Star Wreck Studios outside Helsinki.
His message is this is the real open souce thing.
"It's like Sourceforge. Some people create crap and some create really good stuff. Everyone can participate and that's a new experience for film making. This allows niche films to be created and not go through the blockbuster mentality system."
On the site's main page, each community contributor gets recognition in the hours after their contribution is accepted. All sorts of things are accepted -- individual shots, post-production help, props, you name it.
Lee noted that in the battle scenes for his first film, Star Wreck, all but the main rebel ship were models donated by individuals to the project.
"We had 3,000 people in the community at the time of the release of the first film in 2005, leading to 700,000 downloads. Now there are over 8 million. It still gets 30,000 downloads a week. This led to the opportunity for these guys to start Iron Sky."
The result is a completely upside-down economic model, one with a long tail. The film debuted online, for free, and only later came out in paid versions.
The producers gave the film to the community for free to watch. They made it available for download. That wound up being the best marketing.
They found it sold on the streets in China and Russell. The back of the Chinese copy claimed it had Russell Crowe and was distributed by Paramount. Then it got picked up by TV and then Universal Pictures – they've sold over 15,000 DVDs. Now they're talking about doing theater release. It's completely opposite of how things are done.
And the bottom line is the bottom line. "It cost 15,000 Euros to make and they've got 200,000 Euros so far." That money is being plowed back into the studio and the two new projects, Iron Sky (which we mentioned earlier) and Sauna.
It was the long tail aspect Lee wanted to emphasize. "We want to free film from the constraints, both before and after they're financed."
If Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were starting out today, do you think they would go open source? More to the point, do you want to be the next Matt or Ben? Here's your chance.