Obviously we’re in the midst of a major shift in terms of how artists should and can be compensated for their work. My films are illegally downloaded constantly, and I’ve tried to combat that by making the films as easy as possible to legally access (like by renting or downloading Urbanized directly from this site). When I went on tour with my second film, Objectified, I asked audience members how many of them had seen my first film, Helvetica. Maybe half the audience would raise their hands. Then I asked, of the people who’d seen Helvetica, how many had watched a pirated copy? About half of the people who had just raised their hands usually kept them up. On one hand, one could argue that I’d lost money from those who didn’t pay for the Helvetica downloads. But on the other hand, they’d all just paid $20 for a ticket to the Objectified screening.
So in my case I believe that file sharing has opened up a larger audience for my films, especially internationally. And how I utilize that larger audience to make my future films possible, and pay the rent, will be the key to my continued sustainability as an independent filmmaker. I believe having a direct relationship with the people who want to see my films made, and making it easy for them to help, is the best way to achieve that.
Thank you, Gary. May there be many more artists like you who realize & seize the tremendous opportunity in this new connected world full of "happiness machines," as you put it.