Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arrr, Matey : A Little Rant On (Horror) Movie Piracy

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This is a post i've been meaning to make for a while now but, as is the case with many things in my life, laziness always managed to get the best of me. However, in the wake of Adam Green posting his latest Halloween short film, a hilarious faux 50's public service announcement with a serious anti-piracy message, as well as a few comments I received from you guys on the post I made about it, i've been inspired to finally get off my ass and speak my piece. Though I guess technically i'm still sitting on my ass, which I suppose is the beauty of being a blogger.

Now one thing I want to clarify is that this little rant isn't meant as an attack on the movie pirates of the world but rather my goal is that it will serve to maybe inform a couple people about what they're doing. My belief has always been that most people who download movies aren't evil people out to do harm so much as they are people who just aren't aware of what they're doing and who they're hurting when they log onto the torrent sites and hit the download button. I can say this with utmost certainty because I went through a brief phase of downloading movies several years back, which ended once I realized what I was actually doing. Not something I like to admit, but it's the truth and I like to be open and honest with you all.

Of course, there are tons of people out there who know exactly what they're doing and just don't give a shit and being that it would be worthless to even try and talk sense into them, i'm gonna aim the brunt of this little rant at the folks who are contributing to the death of an industry they so love without even realizing it. There's no question that illegally downloading movies has a seriously negative impact on the filmmaking industry as well as on the filmmakers/actors/crew members themselves, and that impact is perhaps felt the greatest in the world of horror filmmaking, where the careers of the people that make the movies we love so much are literally dependent on how well us fans support what they're doing.

So what i'm here to do today is clear up a few misconceptions that I often hear pirates use as a way of justifying what they're doing. Feel free to read it, feel free to disregard it and continue going about what you're doing, this post is just something i've been wanting to get off my chest. Though the rant is specifically geared towards people who pirate horror movies, being that this is a horror blog and that's the world I know most about, i'm also directing this to anyone who has ever pirated a movie.

So here are some of those misconceptions along with my thoughts on why they're not valid reasons to download movies in any way, shape or form, no matter how ya spin 'em. There are no valid reasons.

"MY ONE LITTLE DOWNLOAD WON'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"

And one little vote won't make a difference either, right? People use this same excuse to justify all kinds of things in their daily lives but when everybody is saying the same things to themselves, then it's no longer just one little download or one little piece of candy stolen from the store, now is it? Do you really think you're the only person illegally downloading movies when you say something like that? There's millions of you out there and if all of you are saying the same thing and going forth then ya, your 'one little download' does actually make a world of difference.

"MOVIE DIRECTORS ALREADY HAVE TONS OF MONEY, THEY DON'T NEED MINE!"

Now this is a funny one. Established big time Hollywood directors may be rolling in the dough (which still doesn't make this a valid excuse for downloading their movies) but when it comes to the horror industry, that's hardly the case with anyone who's currently devoting their lives to entertaining us fans. Take Adam Green for example. The misconception seems to be that because he's made a bunch of kickass horror films that we all love, and because we adore him so much and hold him in such a high regard, that his pockets must be heavily lined with the green stuff ... no pun intended. Fact of the matter is, people like Green make these movies largely out of a love for the game and generally don't make much money off of them when all is said and done. Whether or not they can continue to make movies and make a living off doing so is, once again, all dependent on whether or not their fans legally support their movies. If everyone downloaded a movie like Hatchet and as a result it made little to no money at the box office or on home video, a guy like Green would never work in the industry again, no matter how many adoring fans the movie had. In fact, I use that example because Green's career almost came to an end after making Hatchet, as over 150,000 horror fans downloaded the movie before it was even released in theaters. These guys certainly aren't made of money. They're doing this for us. And by stealing what they're doing for us, we're screwing them over big time. BIG TIME.

"WHEN THE BIGWIGS SEE THAT A MOVIE HAS A TON OF ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS, THEY'LL SEE THAT PEOPLE LIKE THE DIRECTOR'S WORK AND WILL HAPPILY GIVE THAT PERSON MONEY TO MAKE ANOTHER ONE!"

Unfortunately, the movie business is all about money. Whether or not any given movie gets made is in most cases an entirely money based decision. And guess what? If a director makes a couple movies that don't line the pockets of the bigwigs in charge, or even a single movie that doesn't, they simply wont ever be hired to make movies anymore. So oodles of illegal downloads may seem like it'd look appealing to the distributors but the fact of the matter is that they really don't care. If the movie isn't making any money, no matter how many fans it has, chances are that director won't get a gig again. Why would they take the risk on that person when they've proven that they can't rake in the dough? Need I remind you that Adam Green's career was in jeopardy after so many so called fans and supporters downloaded his first movie?

"BUT IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO SEE THE MOVIE SOMETIMES AND I'M SURE THE DIRECTOR WOULD WANT ME TO SEE IT, NO MATTER HOW I GO ABOUT IT!"

Being a blogger I especially know where people are coming from on this one. When you have a movie based blog it's always nice to be able to see and pop up reviews of stuff before it comes out, especially being that horror movies tend to be available to illegally download long before they finally get released on DVD. Blogger or not though, the temptation to see new movies that you can't see unless you download them is pretty strong. I understand that. If someone tells you such and such movie is awesome but that you can't go out and buy the DVD or rent it or that it's not playing at any theater near you, what else are you gonna do, right? I know it can be hard, but do the right thing and just wait until you can see the movie you want to see under circumstances which don't negatively impact anyone who was involved with making it. These days, even the most underground of movies are hitting cheap On Demand services or are being made available on DVD fairly quickly, so what's the harm in waiting or dropping a few bucks to see them?

"IF I DOWNLOAD A MOVIE AND LIKE IT, I'LL BUY IT ONCE IT HITS DVD. SO I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG!"

I suppose if you are going to download movies despite anything people like me say to you, this excuse is the best one to use, assuming you actually follow through with that promise (and i'd imagine most people who download and like a film don't end up buying it once it comes out ... why would they, they already own it and it was free). Let's assume that you do follow through with that promise though. In the end, even if you originally stole the movie, you are paying for it and supporting it once it's available for sale. That's all good and well. But think about that for a second. You're stealing something and then only once you decide that you like it are you agreeing to pay for it. Isn't that the same as walking into Best Buy, stuffing a DVD into your coat and then coming back later to pay for it only if you end up liking the movie? What happens if you don't like it? Then you just keep the stolen goods and forget anything ever happened? Isn't there something a little wrong with that logic or is it just me? Just because you don't like a movie you downloaded means it's ok to steal from the pockets of the filmmaker and in turn, hurt their chances of ever working in the business again? You probably wouldn't walk into Best Buy and swipe a DVD or into the home of a filmmaker and snatch some of his personal belongings, so what makes doing the same thing in a different way any better? Because it's harder to get caught doing it?

"I ONLY DO IT BECAUSE I LOVE THE GENRE!"

If you're reading this right now and you do illegally download horror movies, I don't doubt that you're probably only doing it because you love these movies and want to see them. Money is tight, I know that as much as the next guy, and downloading a movie is the fastest, easiest and obviously cheapest way to see any given horror movie. You may think you're supporting the genre by downloading and watching all the newest releases, and maybe even spreading the good word on them on your blog or to your friends after you see one that you do like, but please know that you're actually killing the genre and essentially pissing on the faces and careers of the people whose movies you just loved. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like love to me.

If you love the horror genre, do the right thing. Support it in the right ways. A kitty may not get put in a microwave if you choose to download a movie instead and a little boy might not get hit by a car as a result of your actions. In fact, those actions may not seem like they're negatively impacting you personally in any way, which is oftentimes as good a reason as any to keep doing it. But if you do in fact love the genre, which i'm assuming you do if you read my blog, those choices are actually negatively impacting you, and the lives of those you like to think you support, whether you even realize it or not. Wouldn't it suck if your favorite directors were no longer able to make the horror movies you enjoy watching so much? You're only making that sad fact come closer to reality whenever you make the decision to hit that download button. So please, stop downloading movies. Not just because it's illegal and you might get caught, but because you love horror.

Let's keep this genre alive.

7 comments:

The Vault Master said...

"IF I DOWNLOAD A MOVIE AND LIKE IT, I'LL BUY IT ONCE IT HITS DVD. SO I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG!" Quite a few people told me this when I berated them for downloading "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" back when those poor guys were still looking for distribution for their amazing little horror/comedy. I myself proudly held out until it hit various Video on Demand services and watched it LEGALLY. Then I pre-ordered the Blu-ray! Admittedly, I sometimes dabble in downloading movies (who doesn't these days) but I keep my pirating to films that are either out of print, extremely rare and obscure (Grizzly 2 workprint), or just plain unavailable in the United States. That doesn't make it right, but sometimes, the only way to get your hands on certain films (like Bollywood JAWS or The Boogens or any number of lost VHS classics) is to download it off the web. Great post man; keep fighting the good fight!

Justin Graves said...

I still stand by my earlier opinion yesterday but great post nonetheless.

In regards to my argument that a film just simply is not going to come to a town anywhere near you, and thus one may choose to view it online as a result, I don't see how this is losing the filmmakers any money in anyway. If it's not made available to you, you CAN NOT support them. So there really is no loss there, because it was never there to begin with. With that in mind, I still see it as me doing a greater service than disservice if I turn around and tell thousands of people that they "MUST see this movie, run to your theater (if available), pick up a copy when it hits DVD..." etc. Also, what is the difference between this mode of viewing it and receiving a free screener if you are a big enough website to receive one?

Again, if it's not made available in your area whether by theater or video store (most rural locations only have Red Boxes now, and the pickings are slim there I tell ya), how are they missing your money when they never gave you the option to give it to them in the first place? I don't blame the filmmakers and I don't blame the small distribution companies either. I blame the movie going masses for this situation. Audiences show up to support Red Riding Hood and The Roommate, they sadly don't show up to support smaller, independent release in most cases like Hatchet, Frozen or pretty much everything that I consider to be the best of the year. Hence, there doesn't appear to be a market to distribute those films on a wide, national scale and they never play anywhere near me so I am unable to support them through no fault of my own.

I don't download films. I screen 'em once and then wait for the DVD release and buy them 99.9% of the time. If not commercially available here, well that's why I bought an All Region player so I could support overseas efforts like Dead Set and Psychoville etc. I don't purchase bootleg copies even though The Vault Master makes a very good point about OOP titles or titles that were never made available in the States. Sadly, he is right, downloading online some instances is the ONLY way that one might be able to see certain films.

Anyway, I was in the mood for a little debate. Great argument all around though sir. I agree with most of it. And I agree with your counter argument that most people don't turn around and buy the DVD after viewing it, unfortunately. Maybe I'm an exception (I wouldn't be vocal about it if I weren't practicing what I preach). I do support filmmakers to the best of my ability and I do vote on what kind of horror movies I want to see get made by voting with my dollar. Just as soon as someone makes option available.

Johnny said...

Vault Master - When it comes to older stuff I really don't find it to be a big deal. Mostly just referring to newer releases with this rant. Glad you enjoyed and thank you for spreading the link! =)

Justin - I totally see where you're coming from on all this and i'm glad that you're honest about it. Like I said, I guess if you're gonna download, at least you're going out and buying the movies once they're available to do so.

As for the screeners thing, distribution companies set copies aside to send to review outlets, so nobody is losing any money on that sorta stuff.

The Vault Master said...

Glad to help support a fellow online scribe and Horror fan. Also, you inspired me to come up with some piracy rambling of my own over at my blog: http://bmoviefilmvault.blogspot.com/2011/10/thoughts-on-film-piracy-legit-piranha.html

Totally forgot to add a fifth way to fight piracy while benefiting consumers: Changing international copyright law and allowing older films that have already made their millions to make a quicker step into the realm of the public domain!

Dr. Theda said...

I have had a friend help me download movies in this fashion... Not but a couple of more recent Films the others were all Much older films some in the public domain .... They are for just me and I do not Distribute these in any way... I live in poverty and Re-watch these movies for my own entertainment....
I am sorry I only have less than 15 Downloads in this way.... not something that I would do very often... I do love my horror films books anything that I can find.... I am sorry that so many people abuse the ability to download these films in this way...
My health is failing anyway .. so what I do on occasion should make little difference in this matter
...Dr. Theda

Johnny Krueg said...

I agree with this post almost completely. I'll only download the obscure flicks that aren't on dvd or blu-ray. There are SO many awesome films that can only be found on VHS, which is a crime! If those were available to buy, I would in a heartbeat. As for new movies that are available to see in theaters or on dvd/blu-ray, I agree that as fans we should pay for them. I couldn't imagine people like Ti West, Barack Epstein, Blair Rowan, or Adam Green not given a chance to make their awesome flicks for us.

Kangas said...

Excellent post--something that has REALLY changed the climate of distribution for the worse. (and I speak from experience unfortunately)