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I just sent this letter to congress through AmericanCensorship.org.

Dear Congress,

I make films and if SOPA passes then the websites where I share my work have a high risk of being shut down.  Because rather then stop piracy this bill will simply stop competition to mainstream media.  The independent voice will be squashed in favor for corporate sponsored culture & news. I could have gone to work for Hollywood but I chose to be independent and to create culture that expresses fresh ideas rather then recycled ideas aimed only at profit.  Culture creation is about finding a way to express the presently unexpressed.  You take that away and you take away society’s ability to grow and expand. So I urge you to stop SOPA and any other future iteration that tries to censor the internet.  No civil society would selectively block certain domain names.  All domain names must remain open and the existing laws should be the way copyright owners enforce violations of their work. Let’s be proud to be alive and proud of good policies that support humanity. – Arin Crumley

I ask you to get involved by learning more  here and then write a letter that speaks to how this would personally effect you.  A diverse set of voices demonstrating the real impact is what we can do to make a difference or else we risk loosing the internet as we know it.  Not waking up waking one day with a censored internet, waking up tomorrow with a censored internet.

Who else is talking about this?  Twitter, FireFox, Google, Facebook

* UPDATE:

It’s not looking good as of today this huffington post article says both the house and senate are eager to pass it and Google is the only one fighting to keep it from going through.

Tomorrow’s NOV 17th Day of Action is a chance to take this issue to the streets.

Starting today, Four Eyed Monsters is officially available via Peer-to-Peer!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Install the BitTorrent software from their site.
  2. Download our “torrent” and double click, opening it in the BitTorrent software where it will begin to download.
  3. For best playback results also download the VLC player.
  4. If you’re really excited about the film, hook up a projector and screen it in your backyard with friends.  Or use OpenIndie to set up a public screening!

While the established media infrastructure continues to worry about how peer-to-peer affects their bottom line, we’d like to simply embrace the change.  The truth is that as independents we have no other choice.  The barriers to filmmaking have fallen but the gates around distribution through traditional TV, theatrical and VOD remain locked.  So we either innovate using open solutions to distribute our films or we have no audience.

I love their spirit & vision but in practice IFC struggles to do what they contractually promise.

I tried to play the conventional game and signed a TV deal with IFC TV for Four Eyed Monsters in 2008. Not only did they neglect to pay the promised fee, the company continued to sell downloads on iTunes, air the film on television and sell DVDs. There was no choice but to threaten them with a lawsuit in order to reach a settlement and get our rights back. The blessing in disguise was that we are now able to release Four Eyed Monsters in any way we’d like, including peer-to-peer networks.

You guys are the best!  Thanks for all the exposure!

What excites me the most about peer-to-peer distribution is that technically it’s the most efficient way to move large, high quality files. The more people who download Four Eyed Monsters the more seeds are created to help others download the film even faster.  With peer-to-peer file sharing the load is distributed across the entire network rather than creating bottlenecks on any one server.  This is what makes it possible for users to efficiently share feature film downloads with each other at no cost beyond their normal Internet connection.  Due to it’s unparalleled efficiency, peer-to-peer keeps growing and growing. If media creators can connect with this worldwide audience and find a way to sustain themselves then there is a real alternative to the mainstream studio system.

Jamie King and the rest of his savvy team have been forging relationships for years with a variety of peer-to-peer networks and have recently launched VODO as an online community and distribution platform that puts the distribution of films into the hands of the audience.  People are encouraged to make donations to the films they like and get incentives such as DVDs, posters, mp3s and artwork, but what excites me the most is the Studio.  My company, The Co-Create Inc has joined a pilot project hosted by VODO aimed at getting monthly donations from audiences in exchange for access to rough cuts of new work, deleted scenes, scripts, music, storyboards and more.  *UPDATE – the pilot project has ended and we no longer are offering the studio experience on Vodo.

 

 

OpenIndie was asked to participate in the DIY DAYS incubator on April 3rd 2010 where Kieran & I spent the whole day reviewing the strengths and challenges of introducing OpenIndie to the world.

The tail end of the day was spent preparing and rehearsing this presentation that I then gave to the DIY DAYS participants. It felt great to just let loose with the crowd screaming at the top of our lungs, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The message was very well received.

Afterwards Kieran detailed the incubator experience saying, “We arent the OpenIndie that went into the DIY DAYS Incubator.” It was a truly transformative experience.

So lets get this ball rolling guys. Lets build phase 2. Lets get investors on board who can fund this effort so we can do it right.

If you know anyone who should be a part of the OpenIndie effort, please send referrals and suggestions along via twitter or email ArinCrumley @ Gmail (dot) com

And please join the site and start requesting films or add your own film.

CREDITS:
Filmming was done by Alex Liss, Mike Hedge & Raffi Asdourian.
The scene is from Network copyright by the studio that owns it and we are using under fair use law.
The music in the “request” video is by our friend Drew Danburry. That video is a part of the Four Eyed Monsters Case Study Presentation we originally  gave at Power to the Pixel 2007.

David lynch is pretty set on people really missing out if they try to watch a film on a phone. But this doesn’t mean that smart phones can’t enhance the cinema experience.

Here are a few obvious things I see as valuable in designing a new film experience:

• Discovering near by screenings of movies made by filmmakers you love.
• Engaging in an interactive experience designed to be the pre-show to the film. An example would be the Four Eyed Monsters Video Podcast.
• Managing the screenings of movies you plan to attend as well as receiving alerts when a close friend is going to be going to a screening that you are near.
• Engaging in an application designed to be used in sync with the film. The app could interoperate the wave form of the audio of the film to gain it’s sync. User comments and additional info about scenes could add an interactive layer to the film.
• Interactive advertisements placed on portable apps could be a smart use of marketing dollars and increase discoverability of a film. Targeting could be focused around geographical and other demographic information.

Steve Jobs at Apple Inc recently gave a presentation that I watched online demonstrating all the new features of the iPhone that will be available this summer and will come to the iPad in the fall.

Below are my notes from his presentation.

Making an iPhone, iTouch, or iPad app puts you in front of up to 85 million users.

The new iPhone OS handles multi-tasking.

Pandora has 50 million users. Now in the new iPhone OS you can listen to music while you also check your email. 20 percent of the music they stream is going to iPhones and they expect that to grow.

Skype connects 1 out of every 9 international calls made on the planet. In the new iPhone OS you can get a skype call anytime. Even when the phone is locked and in your pocket. Before you had to have the app launched to get the call.

Background location is now possible in the new iPhone OS which means that for very little power usage the iPhone can figure out if you’ve changed locations and an app can automatically find out you’ve moved.

Task completion is a new feature that allows you to finish an upload while you’ve moved over to another application.

Fast app switching lets applications use only a tiny bit of battery power when you leave the app so you don’t get a sluggish experience.

You can also have a unified inbox now in the mail application and open attachments in iPhone apps.

iBooks is the ebook store that was made for the iPad but will now also work in the new iPhone OS.

Encryption API lets application builders have high security over any information transmitted to an application.

Wireless application distribution means a user could get an application from a company that they work for pushed to their companies iPhone.

They’ve also added a social gaming network. you can invite friends to play a game with you.  You can automatically match with others who are playing a game.

iAd is a new mobile advertising platform. “It’s about helping our developers make some money through advertising so they can keep their free apps free,” is what steve jobs said explaining why they are doing this.  He made the observation that  “people are not searching, they are using apps,” which struck me as apples way of explaining to the ad industry why apple is now in the Ad game.  It also made me think of the growing Google vs Apple competition for world domination.  Hehe.  I personally love both companies.  Even though each frustrate me at times.

Average iPhone user uses iPhone app 30 minutes a day. If a small banner add appeared every 3 minutes in the bottom of that app then Steve predicts 1 billion ad opportunities per day.  “A huge opportunity”, he says.

Apple will be selling and hosting the ads. They are built with HTML5. Advertisers can show videos, provide a free game, theater listings, provide the user with wall papers and even sell applications or games. You can have the user shake the iPhone to get new random new content within an ad. Ads can also integrate location.

Hiring an iPhone app developer is a way to build an iAd. Developer who makes the app that the iAd is attached to will get the majority of the revenue but apple will also take some.  I am curious how an advertiser pays signs up to have their ad appear in apps.  I am also curious how an app can define which ads they feel comfortable existing on their apps.  Also I’m curious if advertising that doesn’t use the iAd system would violate any kind of terms and service.

Developer.apple.com has the new iPhone development tools.  Developing iPhone apps strikes me as a profitable skill for someone who loves designing user experiences.

Here are a few screen grabs from the Video.


Watch Video On YouTube

Today, March 1st 2010 OpenIndie launched in beta to the 100 filmmakers who provided over 12,000 dollars to have the site built by myself (Arin Crumley) and my co-founder Kieran Masterton.

I was blown away by Kieran’s quality of programming and design at launch. The site is truly inspiring to me and I’m glad to have co-designed it and to be bringing OpenIndie to the public.

The first 18 films were added and 7 screenings were entered into the site one of which was We Live In Public, one of the films that contributed 100 dollars towards building OpenIndie. Today the 7 screenings We Live in Public was having were added to the site as part of the effort to promote their multi-city and multi-format release. The screenings were in celebration of the films VOD & DVD nationwide release.

The live Q&A was streamed online from Chicago with filmmaker Ondi Timoner and main character of the film Josh Harris. They bantered over audience questions pipped in from the 5 other cities asking about the authenticity of love that takes place in-front of cameras, the goal we all have with our online identities and the likeliness of Andy Warhol’s promise of 15 minutes of fame in our life times.

Josh Harris gave his predictions of the future of the internet and then explained he’s working on a wired city project of living spaces that are streamed online to interacting participants and mentioned having hollywood support for the project.

Ondi Timoner dissected Josh explaining her assessment of Josh’s tendency to shut off to intimacy and then mentioned she’s working on a film that explores the under exposed solutions to help climate change as well as her first scripted narrative which will be about the life story of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Ondi is a freaking radical. I love her.

This up coming week for me will be all about further editing the copy on OpenIndie.com, the homepage design, the uploading of films feature and fixing any bugs that arise.

Also of course I’m deep into editing here with Christie Strong and have the support of Niklas Schrimpf who is the causual kinesiologist on the film we are making. More info soon on how I hope to bring that film to an OpenIndie release learning from Ondi’s amazing release tonight. Provided we can get all the powers that be on board. Stay tuned.

twitter.com/arincrumley
facebook.com/arincrumley
youtube.com/arincrumley

This new years eve crystallized some big concepts for me. I wasn’t planning to create new years resolutions but as I let my self sleep in recovering from the catastrophes of the day before the ways in which I’d like to improve came flying into my head.

While coming to terms with it all I also was dedicating all my creative energy into figuring out what I could make for Google. They’d given me the unreleased Nexus One a few weeks prior and asked me to make a video about the phone offering a substantial financial incentive.

So I really wanted to do something that we both would be proud of but literally couldn’t get organized enough to get it done. The result was this video crammed together in the final day before the deadline.

I do sincerely hope that this phone helps me get organized and therfor change my life and I do plan to post in the future more videos like this that explore my progress.

I’m headed to Madrid for a very short trip. Landing 10 am tomorrow and leaving 11:30 am the following day. Ridiculously short. I’m in the thick of preparing for a shoot this upcoming weekend so I’m really forced to ping over there then ping back. Normally I’d want to stay a while. I’ve never been to Madrid but I hear it’s amazing. So I’ll get small tease sit in a lot of planes which is always introspective. I’m bringing some writing to work on.

Here is the info cut and pasted for you that they sent me about the panel I’m doing at this conference in madrid called FICOD 09.

Tuesday, 12:15-13:45 (after Kevin Spacey speech)
Does a Viable Business Model Exist?
The large increase in the number of social network users will be the basis of a still unknown business model (around 70% of net users are social network users). The information included in the profiles could be a great asset for highly-effective campaigns, but it could be perceived as an attack on user privacy. On the other hand, there may be paid or subscription value added services. What other strategies will make it possible to get a profit out of the efforts invested in these projects?
Speakers:
Koro Castellano – Managing Director – Tuenti
Daniel Pérez – Country Manager – Xing
Mariano Klein – Partner/Director – MyEgoo.com
Gonzalo Gómez-Acebo – Founder and CMO – Bookioo.com
Rodrigo Miguel Pineda – Director of Internet Media – Telefónica Spain
Antonio Miguel Fumero – Independent Researcher – ETSIT – UPM

Any research on any of the above people that anyone would like to do and inform me about or any suggestions on what I should bring up on the panel are gladly welcomed in the comments below or tweet them to @arincrumley. I’ll tweet a link to the video of the panel if these guys happen to publish it later.

You are not the only one struggling. Everyone is. And we can do something about it. But first you’ve got to get mad.

Post a video or tweet saying, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” Put @openindie and we’ll find it and make a mash up of screen grabs and video clips. Actually do it. It will feel good. You’ll feel better about what a panel of indie film experts at the Moma recently declared an indie film crisis.

Once you’ve gotten mad, donate to OpenIndie here

Then blog about it.

Here is the video that explains what OpenIndie is.

Below is the text from the end of the above video incase you want to quote it for a blog post, re-read or fact check (links included):

Ted Hope, producer of Thumbsucker & many other films donated $100 to help build OpenIndie.

3,666 feature films were submitted to Sundance last year and only 178 got in. Source.

Lance Weiler, founder of the Workbook Project, self distributed his two films,The Last Broadcast & Head Trauma & has donated $100
towards building OpenIndie.

Only 10 films found distribution at Sundance 2009. Article

Ondi Timoner, filmmaker of Digg & Join Us donated $100 to sign up her new film
We Live in Public on OpenIndie.

In 2008 Mark Gill declared the sky is falling on independent film. Article

Ira Deutchman manages a network of 65 digital theaters & donated $100 to help build OpenIndie.

The Independent Film Channel licensed Four Eyed Monsters but then failed to release it &
didn’t pay until the filmmakers settled out of court for a third of the original deal.

http://twitter.com/4eyedmonsters

Arin Crumley, co-director of Four Eyed Monsters has now co-founded OpenIndie & will use it to distribute his upcoming feature film at the same time as it’s festival premiere.

Learn more at: http://openindie.com
Subscribe for future videos: http://arincrumley.com/subscribe
Follow: http://twitter.com/arincrumley

During my talk at the Filmmakers Forum I presented OpenIndie.com to a room full of filmmakers and got very positive response including someone cutting me a check for 100 dollars to join the list of pioneering filmmakers that will launch the site.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s actually better to make the donation through the site so it counts towards our goal of raising 10,000 dollars to build the site.

The session I was a part of was moderated by Peter Broderick who also had invited Lizzie Gillett from Age of Stupid to discuss their recent synchronized world premiere in 63 countries featuring green carpets, celebrities arriving on elephants and satellite connections creating a “not stupid” dialog after the film that let people know the actions they can take to prevent premature human extinction.

After our talk someone asked me how I felt about major studios coopting the campaign that was used to distribute Four Eyed Monsters.  He was referring to Paranormal Activity released by Paramount Pictures who used a campaign very similar to the Four Eyed Monsters theatrical self-distribution where we asked online fans to request our film and then booked screenings in their area.

Here is a video recorded in september of 07 explaining what we done in 2006 releasing Four Eyed Monsters.  You can also watch a full case study video of the entire distribution process.

So to see Paranormal Activity take a somewhat similar approach was extremely flattering. Here is a quote from a recent LA times article by Ben Fritz:

Whatever savvy went into distribution and marketing — and there was certainly plenty of it — Paramount indeed has a miracle on its hands with “Paranormal Activity,” a movie produced for $15,000 and acquired for $300,000 that vanquished four new pictures with combined production budgets of more than $155 million to finish No. 1 at the box office this weekend.

When asked if  I was upset the studios had co-opted our technique, I explained that it’s not my technique, although we may have been the first film to show a list of cities allowing people to request the film, the basic concept of finding out what your community wants and giving it to them is community organizing 101.  The concept is simple.  Give the people what they want.  So it’s really just the way it should work.  And now apparently studios agree.  It’s the people that should get to decide what shows in their local cinema, not the marketers or even theater owners.  When people curate a series with special attention and care, that is obviously really cool, but when executives sitting in offices try to guess what people want to see, well they clearly can only guess. So thanks to social networking it is possible for everyone to know what people want to watch in various geographic areas.

But we can’t applaud ourselves yet because what we need to remember about Paranormal Activity is that they had a multi-million dollar ad campaign promoting the idea of demanding the film in your area.  The real question is how can films with a studio marketing budget successfully track and then act upon demand for their film.  This is much trickier.  Right now there is no easy answer.  There is what we did with Four Eyed Monsters, but that was a lot of work to manage and we needed a full time computer programmer who had to also know the film world and have a good sense of marketing savviness.

>Enter OpenIndie.com.  A simple way to give this function to a filmmaker.  They enter the details of their film and then get a button they can spread around the web.  When ever anyone clicks that, they can track that there is a new person that wants to see their film.  But more importantly then that, it’s also a helpful tool for audiences.  A way to keep a list of films that the person wants to eventually see when they get a chance.  And even a way to automatically be notified of screenings taking place near where they live or near where they have traveled too.  So like many web tools, it’s an organizational tool combined with a community and a full range of ways participants can get involved.  They can simple flag films they want to watch, or they can put on a screening causing invitations to automatically deploy to near by fans of that film or they can even make their own films and put them on the network providing a license and file to anyone who’d like to organize a screening.  There is even a revenue model attached to help filmmakers sustain themselves by accepting donations from audience members and hosts of screenings either at the venue or online afterwards with reminder emails encouraging those who RSVP’d to a screening to provide a one sentence review and optional donation to the creators of the film or causes the film is promoting.

So anyway, it’s a very neat project that I’m proud to be a co-founder of and hopefully you, the reader of this post, can be a part of.  All you have to do to get into this community now is make a small donation to help us fund the creation of the site.  1 dollar or more gets you early membership.  15 or more gets you a bonus CD from Four Eyed Monsters in the mail.  And 100 dollars or more gets you one film that will be one of the first 100 films that will launch the site as well as 1 hour of my time as a free online social media consultant for your film, organization or business.  And each 100 dollars gives you an extra slot for a film and an extra hour of consulting.

3 Days remain to get the above listed perks, so please, act now and come on over and donate.

And special thanks to the Filmmaker Forum for being the platform for announcing OpenIndie.com and allowing us to show the above video.  Thanks also to all the other Filmmaker Forum speakers I’ve listed below partly to get a google alert going to them so they are sure to understand the scope of what we have planned.  We need help getting the word out as this site is being built buy the film community, for the film community and the only way we’ve raised 75 percent of our goal has been through people referring the site to others as well as blogs and articles that have come out about the project.  So please, blog away, embed away, twitter away in these last 72 hours.

Looking forward to comments to this post people might have and to keep up with everything on my blog, add your email address to the side bar and you’ll be kept in the loop.

Thanks again!

Richard Abramowitz, President, Abramorama
Entertainment
Claire Aguilar, President, ITVS
Mark Ankner, WME
Ami Armstrong, producer, Mr. Nice
John August, writer/director, The Nines
Sara Bernstein, Vice President, HBO Documentary Films
Peter Broderick, President, Paradigm Consulting
Seth Caplan, producer, In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Nicolas Chartier, President, Voltage Pictures
Michael Cieply, contributor, The New York Times
Dave Cole, Dave Cole, colorist, Pride and Glory, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Arin Crumley, director, Four Eyed Monsters
Morgan Dews, director/producer, Must Read after My Death
Joe Drake, Co-COO/President, Lionsgate
Michael Farah, producer, Funny or Die
Laura Gabbert, director, No Impact Man
Lizzie Gillett, producer, Age of Stupid
Liane Halfon, producer, Mr. Mudd Pictures
David Hays, producer, EFILM® Hollywood
Alex Holdridge, director, In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Steak House, producer, Weather Girl
Jay Van Hoy, producer, Treeless Mountain
Kevin Iwashina, Partner, IP Advisors/Hunting Lane Films
Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, CAA
Scott Kennedy, director, The Garden
Laura Kim, Publicity, Inside Job
David Klein, cinematographer, Clerks 1and 2, Zak and Miri Make a Porno
Richard Klubeck, UTA
Ted Kroeber, producer, American Gun
Gina Kwon, producer, Me You and Everyone We Know
Sydney Levine, blogger, “Sydney’s Buzz”
Linda Lichter, attorney, Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman, Inc.
John Lightfoot, Programs Manager, California
Council for the Humanities
Michael London, CEO, Groundswell Productions
Julie Lynn, producer, Mother and Child
Luis Ortiz, Managing Director, Latino Public
Broadcasting
Tina Mabry, writer/director, Mississippi Damned
Brian O’Shea, Executive V.P of Worldwide
Distribution, Odd Lot Entertainment
Heather Rae, producer Frozen River
Jon Reiss, director/producer, Bomb It
Danielle Renfrew, producer, Waitress
Rena Ronson, previously of WMI
Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard Rose, SVP of International Sales, Lakeshore Ent.
Chris J. Russo, Independent Features Rep, Kodak
Scott Sanders, director, Black Dynamite
Steven Schardt, producer, Humpday
AJ Schnack, director/producer,Convention
Cathy Schulman, producer, Darfur Now
Jon Stern, producer, Centrifugal Films
Morgan Stiff, producer/editor,Mississippi Damned
Mary Sweeney, producer, Mulholland Drive
Johnny Symons, director/producer,Daddy & Papa, Ask Not
Ondi Timoner, director, We Live in Public
Matt Tyrnauer, director, Valentino: The
Last Emperor

Sharon Waxman, journalist/author, The Wrap
Blayne Weaver, director, Weather Girl
Jason Weiss, producer, Humboldt County
Steve Williams, Director of Sound Operation, NBC Universal
Laurie Woodrow, President, Trans-Pacific Media
David Worthen, SVP, Fox Digital
Ron Yerxa, Partner, Bona Fide Productions

As a tribute to the brave video journalists that risk imprisoned to bring us news from the front lines I have teamed up with DogWoof & The Co-Operative to produce a series of videos that teach people how to Be A VJ. The more video journalists there are the less effective it is to silence them by arrest. You can make a difference in the world by being part of the mirror that allows humanity to look at it’s self. You probably already have technology in your pocket that can empower you to start to participate in citizen video journalism today. Each episode of the Be A VJ series will give you tips on how to use to better use the technology you already have to Be A VJ. To make sure you see each of the Episode you can follow along on my website, my twitter or grab the RSS feed that has only Be A VJ episodes from BeAVJ.com

There is also something very important you should do right now which is sign the petition to help free the VJs that are currently in prison in Burma. The footage shot by these five VJ’s has aired internationally on CNN, BBC and many other networks and was the material the film Burma VJ was built around.

In order for us to maintain the strengths of our collective voice we must not allow the silencing of individuals.

Every signature counts so please take a minute to visit this site and contribute your name.

Free The VJs

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