Perhaps Canadian movie director Jason Eisener has the right approach to dealing with movie pirates: Instead of relying on the ham-handed approach of the MPAA to police various bittorrent sites, perhaps the creators should address these downloaders directly.
Eisener, who directed the upcoming Hobo With A Shotgun, an independent movie done in the grindhouse style, did just that by creating an account at the Pirate Bay in order to address those who were downloading his movie. Actually, "address" is the wrong word. Eisener pleaded with them, asking them not download his movie, and he did so in the comments section of the movie's download page:
Image courtesy of the official site
Please don't steal my movie. I never stole anything from you guys. The writer and the producers and myself, put our pay checks back into this film, so we could make it happen. If your gonna steal it, at least come to my home and try to steal it from here.
This, as expected, set off a firestorm of responses, many of which doubted the legitimacy of Eisener's comment. Then there were those who defended their actions with comments like the following (the mistakes have been left intact):
You say that where stealing your film, but if your apart of the Movie and Entertainment business aren't you constantly stealing from us with your over priced CD's,DVD's, Theatre ticket prices, PPV movies and all the film merchandise you sell with every movie that's produced... If Charlie Sheen got 1.8 million dollars for every episode of Two and a Half Men, then your industry must have money to fuc***g burn. there's certainly no recession or credit crunch in the Entertainment business.
if it wasn´t for a place like here i never would have stumbled over it anyways.
you should be thankful for the promotion.
if it´s any good i will give the movie a good rank at imdb or rt for you and your guys rep. if it´s as good as you think i will buy the dvd, promise.
The discussion goes on for nine pages.
Other members indicated The Pirate Bay actually helped them discover the film and that it would help with promotion. While the accuracy of that particular sentiment is open for debate -- it's hard to consider bittorrent sites as tools for promotion, but then again, maybe it's time to change that approach -- that didn't stop Eisener from expressing confidence towards those replies:
I'm new to this, this is my first film. I hope you guys are right, and that you spread the word, and hopefully pick the film up when it comes out.
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but if these members admit to downloading a bootleg copy of Hobo's theatrical release, odds are if they are presented with an option of buying the Blu-Ray DVD for $30 or download a rip of it, they would go for the download.
While it's not always easy to defend the act of pirating the intellectual property of others, perhaps this final perspective makes it a little easier to understand:
You wouldn't go to a clothing store and buy a shirt if you didn't know if it would fit; I wouldn't buy a car without test driving it, and I feel exactly the same way about movies. If you produce a piece of garbage and you waste my time, then that is all the payment you will get. If however, it 'fits me' and I like it, then I'll buy it to support and have it to watch when I want to again.
With that in mind, perhaps a movie test drive web site is just what we need. Studios could release 10 minutes or so, as opposed to a slickly-edited two minute trailer, and give the would-be consumers a little more to go on.
It's obviously time for a fresh approach when it comes to marketing and releasing movies because the current one is outdated. Discussions like the above from Pirate Bay indicates as much.