BitTorrent Bundles has been on a roll with more and more adopters finding creative ways to utilize the peer-to-peer technology to distribute their projects. On February 13th, HITS will become the first feature film to premiere on Bundles with a PWYW method.
HITS, written and directed by David Cross, debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. It’s a dark comedy about fame and delusion in The United States of YouTube, a true story that hasn’t happened yet. (But, pretty much inevitably, will.) Fans will also be able set their own pricing in theaters at pay-what-you-want screenings in theatrical markets throughout the US and Canada.
For this release, BitTorrent partners with Honora, a production company that is now dabbling with digital distribution. Their mission statement includes an important quality in the quickly shifting digital age:
We have no fixed format or way of doing things, just a simple determination to empower filmmakers and build a sustainable future for independent film.
So here's what David Cross and the team at Honora have decided: run a Kickstarter campaign to spread interest for sales and support experimental releasing. They want to go to 20 different cities & rent theaters to show the film. David Cross doesn't want to sacrifice the theatrical experience for his film, and if traditional distributors are only going to give the standard "indie" release (a week run in New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco) then he's going to try take it into his own hands.
We went to Sundance and while we received offers from some great distributors, their plans with the film were a little lackluster... so we decided to release it ourselves in an unusual way, as an experiment! We want you to decide how much tickets cost and you pay artists directly, not distributors or studios. This is an experiment, a first of its kind to see if we can make it more sustainable for both fans, and filmmakers.
It's always great to see how creators are leveraging new tools to get their work out there. The combination of Kickstarter for theatrical and BitTorrent for digital seems like a healthy one-two punch, and Cross' experiment is going well so far. HITS will be also available on iTunes and other platforms at a more traditional pricing, but the real benefit of the PWYW model is seeing, objectively, how fans value your work. After all, collecting data you can use for a release is arguably the most important part of distributing digitally today.