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Creative Commons Filmmaking Remixes Modern Cinema

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the lights-camera-collaboration dept.

114

mjeppsen writes, "Filmmaking experiment A Swarm Of Angels aims to create and distribute the first collaborative film released under a Creative Commons license. The project is using community participation and funding to make a film that would traditionally cost $3–4 million for a mere $1.75 million. The entire filmmaking process will be collaborative, from Wiki-based script creation to community voting on creative and marketing decisions. Is this just a scheme by the filmmakers to get funding for a pet project, or is it Hollywood's worst nightmare? More importantly, can 'open-source films' develop into a sustainable financial model?"

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DVD and merchandising sales (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16574800)

With half of the 50.000 expected contributers buying a DVD, a shirt or something like that they'll make already quite a lot of money. Sounds doable!

Right. (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574976)

kdawson isn't a troll, right?

Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Wiki!! (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575392)

With half of the 50.000 expected contributers buying a DVD, a shirt or something like that they'll make already quite a lot of money. Sounds doable!

We call that the "Community Theatre" model. You figure that every kid in the cast has at minimum five friends/family members who will be buying tickets. (The old mantra "Everybody gets a part" really means "We want to make as much money as possible.")

Which is to say, yah, it's a valid business model, but is it valid entertainment?

Since I'm about as anxious to see a wiki-communal-collaborative-online-cluster-film as I am to see the Podunk Town Players put on "Oklahoma!," my guess would be no.

Question: what's the purpose? (4, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576048)

"Community Theatre Model" - well pointed out.

I think you slightly miss the point about community theatre, I don't think it's just a money making dodge. I think there's consciousness that it's more than just the entertainment and that the show offered might be less polished than a professional performance but there are other side benefits. People in the village/community and the participants know there is a reason for not just hiring a professional group - they are getting something out of it, whether its fun, having their 5 minutes of fame, job training, peacemaking between sub-communities that are in conflict, therapy etc. I think people generally appreciate their six months of one night a week rehearsals isn't going to make them as good an opera singer as Maria Callas. Sometimes people involve everybody to make more money but I'd day usually any money made gets ploughed back into the community or pays central crew a little bit for their time. I don't see many 'community theatre workers" in Forbes rich list.

So I think you make a good parallel - is there a similar process at work here -do the participants get to learn film making, get their 5 minutes of fame? But this doesn't necessarily mean it will be as good entertainment for non-involved viewers. Let's see. Wildcards happen.

Re:Question: what's the purpose? (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581276)

I think the point that is missed is:

Who gives a flying fuck about a business model? I mean, really... if every participant involved enjoys what they're doing, they collectively get the equipment without sacrifices they aren't prepared to make, and they produce entertainment or art that people can enjoy, who cares if there's a business model? Not everything has to be a business.

You know... what should be expected is that good non-commercial art WON'T be appreciated by everyone. Only pulpy Hollywood crap that is stripped of everything controversial, quirky and interesting is appreciated by everyone, and that is only apprecated because we live in the absense of anything more interesting than "bland and mindless but inoffensive".

Ever read a book that made you absolutely outraged? I ranted for weeks in anger after I read 1984 for the first time. It wasn't massaged to make it a "feel good" kind of experience... it was a real work of art from someone who wasn't motivated by sales. Commercial movies just don't do that.

If this meme took off, I would chuck some of my money at equipping my local community theater facility and ask my local politicans to apportion some government money to it. If they can pay for skateboard parks, they can pay for some filming equipment and a supervised warehouse.

Guess some of us just don't think of the loss of Hollywood movies to the world is a big deal.

Re:Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Wiki!! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576358)

answer is no. Sorry but when shooting a film the brunt of it and the biggest expense is the shooting, and you cant do that all over the planet, nothing like having the protagonist character being played by 30 different people all dressed the same way.

you CANT do this on a film that will have any semblance of continuity. your core cast must be in the movie from beginning to end and even switching DP's will screw up a films feel. you need the same guy running the camer the same guy doing lighting, etc... or it ends up looking wierd.

More power to them, but I cant see it working unless it is a 3d animated film.

Re:Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Wiki!! (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578854)

Sorry but when shooting a film the brunt of it and the biggest expense is the shooting, and you cant do that all over the planet, nothing like having the protagonist character being played by 30 different people all dressed the same way.
Depends on the character. Chewbacca could very well be played by 20 different people without it having much of an impact (aka "the Chewbacca rebuttal") :)

Or maybe it all happens at the bottom of a well and all they have is one match...

Re:Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Wiki!! (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581640)

"and you cant do that all over the planet,"

Wanna bet? Personally, I can recall a certain zero budget film that even had shots in space.

Or, wait, did they use CGI and bluescreen?

Technology has advanced to the point where most films could plausibly be made in a livingroom. You could get away with scenes with actors who'd never even been in the same room, or even in the same country. Maybe not fistfights or lovescenes yet, but within a few years you'll probably even be able to paste on the appearance of a specific actor onto a standin.

It's AUTEUR driven not wiki-driven (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16577378)

If you read a few posts you realise members get much more input into the filmmaking process, but that all the decisions are filtered by the filmmaking team, and they have veto power.

So it is not a free for all of community ideas, but a member cluster that help influence and feedback on the directors vision. It plainly says he is writing the 2 initial scripts, but then members can present edits on a wiki and propose ideas/discussion on the forum.

Yeah, community theater's such a scam (3, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577512)

I'm sick of those rich community theater fatcats running the whole town...

'The old mantra "Everybody gets a part" really means "We want to make as much money as possible."'

I've worked in community theater. The mantra is more like 'we want to have a snowball's chance in hell of not going bankrupt on this production

You'd be surprised (3, Insightful)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580288)

You'd be surprised how many of these "Hey Kid's Let Put on a Show" productions are commerically viable.

In my area, ALL of the "ethnic" (Indian, Filipino, Balinese, etc) music and dance productions are run this way, and the production values are top notch. This isn't the Podunk Town Players - for example, Austin Texas has (or used to have) a world-class Gagaku (Japanese) ensemble.

Maybe THIS is an example of "The Long Tail" (for which I got a mod point once for arguing that it applied to the Real World as much as the Internet). No, the local high school isn't going to produce "Lethal Weapon VI" or a Madonna album, but who needs that junk? There is more joy in producing than consuming.

Re:DVD and merchandising sales (1)

gerrysteele (927030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578018)

I tried to sign up and they wanted money. I'm a poor student!

Re:DVD and merchandising sales (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580866)

Maybe you have more luck at the Free Film Project. [sourceforge.net] OTOH, that project doesn't look very alive (the latest news apparently is from April 1, 2004).

One (4, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574808)

Wiki-based script creation

I don't doubt that you could get an OK or even good script by committee, but I think to get a great movie, you need one mind unhindered by others. (But you also get A LOT more junk that way)

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:One (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575006)

I don't doubt that you could get an OK or even good script by committee, but I think to get a great movie, you need one mind unhindered by others. (But you also get A LOT more junk that way)

I think you can produce a workable script through committee writing, but there are going to be serious tradeoffs when you produce a script this way; most really stupid ideas will be noticed early on and eliminated (the immaculate conception of Darth Vader), but at the same time the more people you add the more generic the script will be. You could eliminate this if you have an editor who controls and directs the writing of the script, but finding a volunteer to do this (who was capable) would be difficult.

Re:One (2, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575028)

1. Some kind of hybrid approach might be interesting; start with the actors and a character profile for each, then throw the plot events at them sequentially, and record what they say.
2. Editing follows, tweaking the dialogue to be more "in character". You could just record a good RPG session, and then make a script.
3. Can I get a business model patent on this?
4. ...
5. Profit!!!

Re:One (4, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575442)

1. Some kind of hybrid approach might be interesting; start with the actors and a character profile for each, then throw the plot events at them sequentially, and record what they say.
2. Editing follows, tweaking the dialogue to be more "in character". You could just record a good RPG session, and then make a script.
3. Can I get a business model patent on this?


Pretty sure Mike Leigh would have prior art on you, as this is the way he's been working for 20 years.

The "problem" is all of these approaches have unintended consequences. In Mike Leigh's case, some consider his films beautiful pieces of humanistic character studies, while others have noted that the characters resulting from this method of writing and directing all seem to be comprised of a series of tourettes-like tics rather than real character traits. Even though he works with some of the best actors in the world, it's apparently difficult for them to resist trying to define their characters through idiosyncracies. It makes them harder to relate to.

Still, though, Mike Leigh's way of working still relies on singular artistic vision - his for the film as a whole, his actors' for the characters and dialogue. The truly collaborative approach being talked about here is nothing new - in fact it's the standard Hollywood method, and it's why we end up having so many generic action movies in the summer. Not every Hollywood film is the same, but the big-budget ones all end up with about 50 people getting their hands on the script before it's done, and while they may have one director, he answers to about 10 different people himself, all of whom have the power to make creative decisions. I don't know the last time the article submitter here checked the credits list on a Hollywood film, but they are all "collaborative" projects and they all involve an endless series of compromises between all the parties involved.

So I wouldn't say this is Hollywood's "worst nightmare". I'm sure Hollywood couldn't care less, but if they did, they'd probably be saying "welcome to our world". That budget is going to balloon, there's going to be endless bickering, and in the end I doubt this film is going to get made. If it does, it will be as generic as any Hollywood summer schlock. Because this isn't the anti-Hollywood method, this *is* the Hollywood method.

Look at it this way. Out of any 100 people, 5 may be truly creative. 1 out of those 5 may be both creative and have leadership qualities. The film made by that one person would be amazing; the film made by the other 4 out of the 5 creatives would be uneven but still interesting, the films made by the remaining 95 would be dreck. That's an ideal world. When you put all 100 people together to work on one film as true equals, the 95 uncreative people are going to drown out the 5 creatives, and you're going to end up with crap. Or nothing. But there's no possibility of getting any quality out of this. It's always better to rely on a singular vision in art, even if you have to hunt for the true gems.

Wikipedia the movie - coming soon (2, Funny)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575062)

Clearly not true. The script for Wikipedia, the movie [wikipedia.org] is coming along great

Re:Wikipedia the movie - coming soon (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581900)

Looks more like IRC: The Movie.

Re:One (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575372)

Or lots of minds thinking the same way...

Heroine: "I've arrived at last"

Hero: "I can't help feeling things are just starting to get hot"

Hero: "Do you want grits with them?"

Heroine: "yeah right, only in Soviet Russia would you say that"

Hero: "but in Russia, all your bases belong to us now"

yeah, maybe we shoud stick to the tried and tried and tried Hollywood formula plots.

Re:One (0, Redundant)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575936)

Wiki-based script creation

I don't doubt that you could get an OK or even good script by committee, but I think to get a great movie, you need one mind unhindered by others. (But you also get A LOT more junk that way)


I wish them luck, but this seems like an incredibly bad idea to me for a variety of reasons.
1) Most of the public will never hear about this. This means that those who do know about it and participate are unlikely to have what for lack of a better term I will call "common tastes". I can just imagine one faction pushing to make this "gay friendly", another wanting to take potshots at religious people, and so on.
2) The quality of the acting may be low. Cheap films don't necessarily have to have bad actors. The first Phantasm movie was made in the 1970s on a fairly cheap budget, yet if you watch it, the special effects look good for the time and the acting is fine. The Blair Witch Project is another example of a cheap movie with decent acting. Examples of cheap movies AND bad acting would be to watch most of the fan produced Star Wars or Star Trek shows. Go to http://www.hiddenfrontier.com/ [hiddenfrontier.com] and pick any episode, especially in season 1 or 2, and watch it and tell me if you would pay to see that kind of work at a cinema. The special effects are fine, but the acting? That's another story. I just have visions of this kind of project being doomed by the producers casting their buddies who can't act in the movie.
3) Just because people on Slashdot think it's a great idea, that doesn't mean the general public will concur. Serenity didn't even make back its production cost with US and international box office sales put together, yet Slashdot was filled with postings from people who could barely keep from masturbating as they wrote about how great the movie was going to be. According to the reviews it was a great film (I never saw it so I can't say), but nobody wanted to see it. Snakes On A Plane was another movie that nobody went to see, yet it might have life on home video. Army Of Darkness is one of my all time favorite movies, yet as actor Bruce Campbell has said, while the people who love AOD really really love it with all their hearts, the fact is that there aren't enough of them to justify the costs of making another one in the series. Bruce will release a movie where some people mistake him (the actor) for the Ash character and get him to help them fight some monsters and that's probably as close as we'll ever get to a real sequel to the Evil Dead/Army Of Darkness series.
4) As a general rule in Hollywood, the more people who touch the script, the more problems there are. What's to keep a sufficiently organized faction from controlling the wiki process? Suppose instead of my examples in point #1 that a group of Christian zealots organized (and believe it or not, dedicated Christians often do organize very well) themselves and could control the wiki and wanted to put in religious themes that would doom the movie financially. Would the producers then overrule the majority? Why have a wiki process if you're just going to ignore it? Would they go ahead and put stuff in the movie that they know will keep it from making a profit just because the majority of participants want it?
5) Suppose the producers/director/people running the show are idiots? Do you not know that studies have shown that the most incompetent people are the most confident in their own abilities? Take a look at the film Ed Wood from Tim Burton for an idea of how an extremely untalented man could believe very strongly in his own talent, despite all the negative pressure (poor sales, poor reviews) he got while making films. He convinced himself that he was a genius and nobody else really understood him, so he ignored all the negative reinforcement he got while making films.

To me, this just smacks of the idealistic "Hey kids! Let's go make a movie!" idea that is not grounded in reality. Again, I wish them luck, but I don't see how this is going to work.

Re:One (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576194)

"I don't doubt that you could get an OK or even good script by committee,"

Not really a problem as the script doesn't appear to be that open to involvement from the swarm. I joined the project when it made it onto Digg a couple or three weeks ago (and this isn't a dig(!) at Slashdot because I question whether it should be getting a mention anywhere.) and looked through the forums. I was member 780-ish of the proposed 1000 before membership is closed for phase 1. I went on the forums that constitute the bulk of the project and as is usual there are maybe 20 people with opinions and a lot of lurkers. Thing is there are only perhaps half a dozen key people making a contribution that's being listened to.

Being a longtime forum user (troll-lite) I immediately settled down for some robust debate. It's not happening. There were two script treatments for review but a decision was already being made to have a script extract ready for a ready for reading at a film festival in a month's time - and this without any vote on which treatment should be used. Meanwhile some critical decisions have already been made by the swarm such as what colour the already commissioned poster should be. So no community input into the promotional poster but we get to pick the colour - do you see where this is heading?

If you want to get involved remember this - the musicians, writers, and production staff will be drawing industry level wages regardless of whether it works out or not and if it is a massive success it has already been decided that there will be no reward to members of the project as it will be rolled forward into future projects (where the muscians, writers and production staff will no doubt once again draw industry wages.)

I pretty much left in disgust about two weeks ago and haven't been back so if anything has changed my apologies but hopefully my experience will encourage you to do some homework before throwing down the admittedly small amount of money involved to become a member.

Re:One (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576896)

If you want a good rule-of-thumb in film criticism, it's this: The more writers that are involved in the script, the shittier the end result will be. 1,000 mediocre writers working together DO NOT compare to just one GOOD writer working alone.

-Eric

Re:One (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577320)

Did you know the number of angel swarms [wikiality.com] has tripled in the past six months?

Re:One (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577396)

Wiki-based script? Sweet! At least it'll have lots of nudity!

Re:One (1)

Arithmomaniac (806622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580600)

Agreed. Just a few days ago, Jimmy Wales asked what works we should wikify for $100M. Many people listed research papers and classic novels. What they forgot is that public domain (something everything should be in after the author dies) and wikification of original works (mutilating an artistic vision by havign 20 different ones in one work) are not the same thing. Wikis are for "just the facts, maam."

let me predict the result (4, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574844)

The entire filmmaking process will be collaborative, from Wiki-based script creation to community voting on creative and marketing decisions.

Filmmaking by committee. I smell success already.

Re:let me predict the result (1)

Paul Bristow (118584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575456)

Filmmaking by committee. I smell success already.

...and you think Hollywood movies are made by individuals?

Re:let me predict the result (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581364)

..and you think Hollywood movies are made by individuals?

No.

But neither do you have to be an academic to understand what is distinctive about a John Ford western or a Hitchcock thriller.

ATTN: Slashdot trolls (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16574864)

Your time is now.

Get on over to that script wiki, treat us to some nice hot grits and make cinema history with goatse.

The Ultimate Horror movie (1)

Lonedar (897073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576174)

Goatse in HD.

Re:ATTN: Slashdot trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16578786)

Thanks to you I now have the image of Goatse the IMAX movie

Been hacked? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574868)

came under both a scripted hacking attack which meant the forum had to be restored from scratch

Looks like they could do with help from some open source sysadmins.

CCL for Nerdporn? (2, Funny)

Analein (1012793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574886)

With 1.75 million dollars, you could create some good nerd pornography. Imagine some big mainframe (1.000.000 dollars), a decent hosting environment (500.000 dollars), some specialists setting it up (200.000 dollars), fast food for weeks (40.000 dollars) and some street hookers serving the eyegalls wearing identification models in front of terminals (I'd write "priceless", if it weren't for all the asking I'd get about locations).

Writing a script for that shouldn't be all to hard, recursively searching through Slashdot and adding some random porn vocabulary to it could in fact be sufficient. I smell geekbuster.

Re:CCL for Nerdporn? (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576632)

I'm sold. Who should I make the check payable to?

Nerd Meme (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578426)

Add in:

Sharks with lasers (action sequence)
Natalie Portman (hottie)
Hot Grits (food)
Petrification (horror)
a deja vu scene (dupes)
an Apple/PC commercial (flamewar)
beowulf reference (classic poetry)
basements .... etc

Okay, you can leave out goat.cx, thank you very much.

Filmmaking by committee (1)

astonishedelf (845821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574888)

Probably not. Some things are better done by consensus - running a country comes to mind. Creative endeavours do not come to mind as one of them. At best, small groups of like-minded individuals working together might achieve something remarkable but anything larger will end up diluting the original thinking of the few in favour of keeping everyone happy. I feel sure that the /. community can name a few successful collaborations between two or more people but usually its one gifted individual making a quantum leap. Examples might include Einstein, Shakespeare, Darwin, even George Lucas and the Star Wars series...

Bad examples tend to show the opposite (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575014)

Einstein's original work was a collaboration with Mrs Einstein #1. They got divorced when he won the Nobel. He got the award and she, I believe got most of the prize money in exchnage for staying out of it. Darwin cannot be understood without knowing about his grandfather, Erasmus, who gave him most of his ideas; Darwin basically found the evidence. You didn't mention Shakespeare, but he was an actor/manager whose plays were presumably polished by the actors involved (and he borrowed most of his plots anyway.)

I really believe the huge modern lie is the "Single creative individual". Why is it that when we live in a supposed democracy we still try to create sacred kings?

Re:Bad examples tend to show the opposite (1)

astonishedelf (845821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575144)

I didn't say that one single individual was solely responsible for all advances in any particular field. I said that gifted individuals are capable of making quantum leaps if unencumbered by committees. The clearest examples of single creative individuals are arguably novelists. Of course they draw inspiration from past writers and knowledge from the society they live in but it is the way they synthesise it that makes it possible to take the next leap forward. Human beings work best in communities and but that does not mean that credit belongs equally to each and every person involved in the project. If we accept your argument, then every single person involved in the construction of St Paul's Cathedral from the Sir Christopher Wren's assistant down to the lowliest bricklayer would be equally entitled to claim credit for its construction. That's just nonsense. The inspiration and presiding genius behind the construction was Sir Christopher Wren and the fact that others also helped is neither here nor there. As for Shakespeare borrowing his plots - so what? Others also borrowed plots but none managed to re-interpret them so well that it formed part of the canon of English Literature.

Re:Filmmaking by committee (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576300)

but usually its one gifted individual making a quantum leap. Examples might include Einstein, Shakespeare, Darwin, even George Lucas
Please tell me that last one was a joke.

Re:Filmmaking by committee (1)

astonishedelf (845821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576436)

Kind of a joke. George Lucas makes films so bad they're goodddd.... The Star Wars series may totally suck but they have now occupied permanent headspace in my brain... argh...

Re:Filmmaking by committee (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577880)

Come on... tESB was good...

Hah. (4, Interesting)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574908)

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ [creativecommons.org]
What happened to freedom 0? No commercial usage. That's more restrictive than disney. These guys are *afraid* of putting their work in the public domain. What do they think will be done with it, if it's not going to be employed commercially? They've restricted their success, the film won't go anywhere beyond this internet without it. To succeed they must let their work pass from amateur to professional, which means allowing commercial use.

Re:Hah. (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575170)

Not only what you say, but this process agressively pushes out certain voices that speak to the non-wiki crowd. What you'll get is an opinionated troll film. This is off topic, but CC needs to expand it's horizons. The CC presentation at SF LinuxWorld could be argued to be leftist and anti Christian. If you want a political movement you have to mainstream. Electronic voting issues are now national news because it involved populist ideals with liberal geekdom. Net neutrality has gained steam in it's uphill battle, by incouraging the Christian Colilition and MoveOn.org to work together (think about that) against telecom companies. The creative commons needs to broaden it's net to be truely inclusive.

Re:Hah. (1)

arose (644256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575172)

That's more restrictive than disney.
Yeah, sure.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578438)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Men_Don't_Wear_P laid [wikipedia.org]
Universal, Warner Bros, paramount, MGM being more permissive than the worser of the creative commons licenses would allow.

Re:Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1)

arose (644256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16579722)

What have the studios allowed you and me to do that a non-commercial CC license doesn't. Remember, something they tolerateed after the fact doesn't count, as there is nothing stopping an author of a CC NC work from doing the same.

Re:Hah. (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580448)

Yes, and amazingly enough, commercial endevors have the right to say "don't pirate our work", or to ask Congress to extend the copyright peroid to keep their cash cows from rolling into the public domain. These people have the right to lock their work away from being used commercially.

Weather it is really a good idea to do this or not, well, that is another story....

creativity (-1, Redundant)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574944)


Is voting on creative decisions really a good idea? Creativity is a very individual thing. And let's face it, a lot of people aren't very creative, but might have strong opinions.

Could you ever make a film like Mulholland Drive throught this process? Or Memento? Or for that matter, The Hobbit - imagine the arguments!

Re:creativity (-1, Redundant)

AndOne (815855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575120)

Yah, But i'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Mulholland Drive could've only been made better had a commitee been involved. As was it was childish and silly and just a bit stupid over all. Then again I did watch it twice... course the first viewing was in a really creepy theatre with chairs that prevented actually thinking about the movie due to the pain of sitting in them. Terrible film.

Re:creativity (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575296)


I think you prove my point. Some people consider Mulholland Drive a brilliant film, others hate it. It would be impossible to make such a film by committee.

Re:creativity (1)

Bugmaster (227959) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581784)

This is offtopic, but I actually considered Mulholland Drive an ok film. I don't hate it, but it could've been a lot better if it were a bit more focused, IMO. Good but not great.

Not the first. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16574952)

They're not the first to do such a thing, "Elephants dream" done by some dutch school is mostly open too: http://orange.blender.org/ [blender.org] , and with a lot less budget. Although the people who worked on ithis were selected in advance.

Re:Not the first. (1)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575482)

Only Elephants Dream was like seven minutes long while the typical hollywood flick is over 60.

Re:Not the first. (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577094)

Beautiful seven minutes.

Re:Not the first. (1)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578890)

Agreed, even though I have some reservations on the lip-sync. Read in an interview later that it was because they had done the lip animations before the speech-track, which is an excusable mistake since they're students and their first time doing this stuff.

Overall I think it was a good thing, hopefully good for the university that did it and that they'll do it again. After all, it had great attention in the OSS-world, largest swarm I've ever seen on a torrent.

You have to pay (5, Informative)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16574962)

The summary doesn't mention that you have to pay at least 25GBP to become a member.

Re:You have to pay (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576170)

Yea, I gasped when I read that in their FAQ. They want to get 50000 people into the project, which in turn will provide them with the 1 million GBP budget to make this movie..

As I understand you'll pay 25 GBP (that's 37.29 Euros, 46.93 US$ or 2360.40 Afghanistan Afghanis) to be part of a swarm of people producing a movie that everyone will eventually more or less agree on?!

Re:You have to pay (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576414)

Can you imagine sitting through the credits, trying to look for your name? After all you paid 25 GBP, you expect your name on the credits - along with 50,000 other people + everyone else involved.

Re:You have to pay (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578844)

Hehe, maybe they will hire Peter Griffin who will recite the names of all 50000 people in less than a quarter of a second, though it may sound just like a loud yelp to the untrained ear..

Or they will have a screen at the end in which each participant is represented by a pixel; and best of all everyone will get to chose which color they want to be, all for just 25.. - they should have gone for 24.99 GBP...

Sorry for being cynical, but I had high hopes after reading the title. A Creative Commons movie is a great idea, but somehow I don't have a good feeling about this project. Let's hope that in a year or so they'll prove me wrong.

I might be biased but... (3, Insightful)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575016)

I'd rather fund something like another Blender Foundation film project. With Elephants Dream we got massive improvements to Blender, a large amount of high quality textures that could be used in our own works, production files that could be learned from, as well an 'advertisement' demonstrating that Blender and other open source tools (GIMP, Subversion) were capable of generating production quality work. With "A Swarm of Angels" I don't see it as likely to drive improvements for any creative tools, nor does it appear that it would provide any resources useful for either learning nor as an input of content to other work.

Is there something I'm missing about "A Swarm of Angels" that would make it a 'good idea'?

LetterRip (A dedicated Blenderhead )

Re:I might be biased but... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576428)

I agree, I have not been into 3d and blender much lately but I still buy their stuff (got 3 copies of the book) to support them. Having used maya, lightwave and blender, blender is the future as it is actually accessable. (here comes the lightwave and maya fanboys to flame me for daring to mention their secret lovers)

I have to support a project that allows some random kid to start into 3d without havign to become a criminal or mortgage the family home. and that alone makes blender far better than maya and lightwave.

Re:I might be biased but... (1)

sk8dork (842313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578982)

could it not drive development of open source video editing software? they don't talk about this specifically, bit it's not impossible. i've used a couple of open source/free video editing suites and nothing really comes close to the commercial giants thus far. at least i'm talking about software i could run on a basic desktop system and not a linux/unix supercomputer. i could see this possibly doing for video editing software what elephants dream did for 3d modeling software (blender). maybe i'm wrong though.

Re:I might be biased but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16584374)

"could it not drive development of open source video editing software? they don't talk about this specifically, bit it's not impossible."

It could - but they don't appear to have that as a goal. Even if they did add it as a goal, the bang for buck doesn't appear to be there.

" i've used a couple of open source/free video editing suites and nothing really comes close to the commercial giants thus far."

Have you tried Blender 2.42a? Depends on what you mean by 'doesn't come close'. Blenders 'Sequencer' (non linear editing) and compositing were drastically improved so that they could be used for Elephants Dream. It reads and writes industry standard formats as well (ie OpenEXR, and Cineon). Of course it definitely still needs improvement (Blender is being used for a moderate budget commercial feature length animation - Plumiferos http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811021/ [imdb.com] http://www.plumiferos.com/index-en.php [plumiferos.com] - with Blender being the primary tool for modeling, animation, rendering, sequencing and compositing).

LetterRip

Wrong question (4, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575040)

is it Hollywood's worst nightmare? More importantly, can 'open-source films' develop into a sustainable financial model?"

is it audiences' worst nightmare? Can 'open-source films' develop into anything watchable?

I guess it might, but only because individuals with a vision are allowed to mess with the material afterwards and do it again, properly. Of course by then the title will be tainted and noone will discover someone managed to make something good out of the turkey.

Re:Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16575380)

Theater owners' worst nightmare. I bet you'll have to download 50 CPAN modules, reconfigure XTheaterConfig 6 times, and upgrade all your GNU Projector boxes. And you'll have to provide the script, storyboards, and production schedule to all your patrons.

What's next.. (2, Insightful)

sifi (170630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575058)

Collective musical composition... Collective painting... I agree with the the posts saying that being creative by (a large) commitee is a non-starter. A better system would be to have a large number of people suggesting ideas and have a small number (one?) actually writing the script

Re:What's next.. (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575908)

Or maybe better: a small number of person doing the script and the takes, but lots of persons painting sets, creating models, doing some CGI.

The script part is only a small fraction of the job, you should keep it consistent (and make sure that it is something the actors and director are actually wanting to shot), then look for volunteers to create what you need from sketches or detailed description. That way, you can use your talent+idea+leadership+hard work and the talent+pride of the geeks to make a good film for cheap (but not cheap looking).

The answer (5, Insightful)

kentrel (526003) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575084)

can 'open-source films' develop into a sustainable financial model?

No.

Wait, how much is saved? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575180)

So, They're only saving half the cost of the production?? With no big-name actors and 'community participation', I would have expected them to save a lot more. Maybe the real secret is that the funds are being used to pay their salaries, and it's not truly a work of the community as they suggest.

But even if that's not true, and they're really spending so much money to rent the sets and equipment needed, what do we gain here? We've got a plot-by-committee, which is pretty much guaranteed to be even more cliche than anything the big media companies produce, a lot of no-name actors that probably are no-name because they don't act well enough to get paid for it, and STILL half the price of a 'real' movie.

I hope they at least have the sense to carve the script in stone before they start filming. If they don't, they can kiss that budget goodbye. And probably most of their help.

Oh, and the other Creative Commons video, Elephant's Dream... I hope this is a hell of a lot better than that. I think it's neat that they worked together on it and licensed it like that and all... But it stunk. The conversations were not fluid at all. The plot almost didn't exist. And the whole thing made no sense.

It's been done already (5, Insightful)

misterhypno (978442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575266)

It's called "The studio system," where a bunch of people get together and form this "company," see, and call it a "studio."

The "Studio" then hires a bunch of people who do the job of something called "writers," who actually write the initial form of something called a "treatment" which is the description of what the "movie" (which is short for moving picture, or motion picture) will be.

The "Studio," actually, the people who own the "company CALLED "the Studio" then hand the "treatment" over to some OTHER people who then re-write the "treatment" into a form called a "script," which is what the actors and the guy who tells everybody what to do on the "set" (which is really everywhere the people from the "Studio" go to film the "movie") use to tell the story IN the original "treatment."

The "Studio" then takes the "script" and gives it to ANOTHER bunch of people who then re-write the "script" to make it "more marketable," meaning that it is less like the original "treatment" or the original "script."

This is done until the final "script" has NO resemblance to the original "treatment" or "script."

Sometimes, a Studio will even take something called a "book," which is a story that is found printed on a bunch of pages glued together on one side to hold them together for easy carrying and reading.

By the time the "book" has gone through the process above, it often has little similarity as a movie to the story in the book. For examples of that, see "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" from Disney Studios where the tragic ending in the book was changed to a HAPPY ending in the cartoon version and JFK starring Kevin Costner, which has only passing similarity to reality.

Lee Darrow

Re:It's been done already (2, Funny)

jrobinson5 (974354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575454)

Yes, I "totally" (completely, entirely) "agree" (a word meaning to concur or coincide) with "you" (misterhypno).

Re:It's been done already (1)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578748)

...something called a "book," which is a story that is found printed on a bunch of pages glued together on one side to hold them together for easy carrying and reading.

I'm going to call shenanigans on this one. Putting glue on one side of each page seems like it'd make reading this "book" thing even more difficult. Or perhaps it's a low-tack adhesive, like you find on sticky notes? I suppose that could work. And it sounds just like something the "studios" would come up with. After all, you wouldn't want people selling a "book" after they were done reading it. And who's going to have the patience to stick all those pages back together?

Re:It's been done already (2, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578848)

All of which makes you wonder how the good films get made. Usually, it's because someone with a really insistent vision, a buttload of money, and enough backing from the studio that they don't get messed with, is at the reins. This seems to be the exact opposite of the studio system so eloquently described by Lee, and of the collective method espoused by those wacky collectivists.

Open Source offers great advantages. That doesn't mean it can be shoehorned into every situation.

Becomes porn in 3..2.. (2, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575310)

Action.

It's a Trap! (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575314)

1. Setup something to use this "open model" people preach,
2. Don't really care about it, you don't want it to do well,
3. It flubs/is canceled,
4. Yell about how openness is useless,
5. Pass laws,
6. Profit!


I maybe too cynical, but it's not like it's that far out-there. The RIAA has done worse.

Re:It's a Trap! (1)

beders (245558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575458)

It's Springtime for Hitler [wikipedia.org] all over again!

Re:It's a Trap! (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576682)

I'm not sure what you mean by

5. Pass laws,

in this context of open film making. Can you elaborate?

Ah yes, the wisdom and talent of the crowds (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575334)

Because we all know that artistic and technical talent are democratically distributed throughout the teeming masses! This is taking democracy way too far. Didn't anyone learn from Snakes on a Plane? You need to find good, talented writers, not give every schmuck his or her chance to take a crack at it. How about using the wiki as a way to submit your work for review to see if you can make it as a contributor instead?

But... but... that would destroy the democratic idealism!

Re:Ah yes, the wisdom and talent of the crowds (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575662)

I think you confuse democratic with communistic. In democratic, the works are submitted, voted on and done or not. In communistic, the works are submitted to a committee, they are mashed together into an unrecognizable mush, then they are continually revised by everyone until it mires in the mud and dies.

New comedy idea... (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575356)

I'll just make the 'Making Of...' documentary of this...

Is "Open Source" the new .com? (1)

Snowtide (989191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575686)

Ok, the idea open source software I understand. The name and idea are derived from having open source code.
What is an open source movie?
Whats next, open source pet supplies?

Re:Is "Open Source" the new .com? (1)

zugurudumba (1009301) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577222)

Actually, the next big thing might be the open-source coke [wikipedia.org] , released under GPL. For those of legal age, I recommend the free (as in "free speech") beer [slashdot.org] .

Committee film making (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575696)

Ask Terry Gillham(sp?) whatever happened to his Man from La Manchia film. Better yet, watch the documentary "Lost in La Manchia'. And, that was with professionals.

$1 million is a lot for making an indie movie... (1)

angryflute (206793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16575814)

For example, Napoleon Dynamite was made for around $500K, as was Brick. This isn't unsual at all. In fact, $1 million is the comfortable minimum for producing a low-budget movie shot on film.

As for this "film production by committee" approach, I already since a disaster, especially with how they plan to develop a script.

A better idea would be to hold a screenwriting contest. People submit their screenplays for consideration. A judging panel selects 10 finalists, which are chosen based on quality and ability to be produced for less than $1.75 million. The members of this production (those who have put in their money to contribute) vote for the one out of the ten they want to see produced. The runner up becomes a fallback, should problems arise in the preproduction of the winning screenplay.

Re:$1 million is a lot for making an indie movie.. (1)

thegux (892222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577086)

Mod parent up.

Stoopeed Queesteons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576100)

Is this just a scheme by the filmmakers to get funding for a pet project, or is it Hollywood's worst nightmare? More importantly, can 'open-source films' develop into a sustainable financial model?"
Fucktard, get a life. Remember, there are no stupid people. Only stupid questions.

Price == open?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576206)

So in order to join you have to pay 25+ GBP(just shy of $50 USD)?! That doesn't sound very open to me. Is there a free membership that I'm missing? Anyone else want to make a spin off site that is actually open?

"I don't know the key to success ... (2, Insightful)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576738)

... but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
-- Bill Cosby

Art by commitee rarely works. Yeah, you can finish the project, even make some money, but it probably won't be art anymore. Hollywood scared? Hardly. They invented the process.

This is NOT like Open Source Code (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 7 years ago | (#16581044)

Open source works because the cream can rise to the top

I think this would make the program better, you think that would make it better. We can talk about it in forums, others can argue and debate about it. Then we can both sit down and code. You can add my patch, and see what you end up with. People can add your patch and see what they end up with. We can fork the project, people can apply patches, our pataches can be accepted or rejected. No mater what happens, be it by merit or politics, everyone can have their own opinion on it, and they can actually SEE the code in action. Because compiling and running code is CHEAP.

With scripts, that is not the case. We can't shoot it your way, shoot it my way, shoot it there way, edit and score it as we please and compare versions. It is to expensive. Since the mid 90's I have believed by 2020 computers at home will be powerful enough, that you will be able to do things this way. Just sit down at your desk and bring up Casablanca and say, "OK, lets scrap the last 5 minutes and make it so Bogey gets the girl" and 30 minutes later, your computer will have render a new version of the movie for you.

Till that day is here, collaborative films will not work. Since you can't afford to knock off enough stinkers to see what cream rises to the top.

Color me not impressed (1)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576964)

Robert Rodriguez did his award-winning film "El Mariachi" for U$S 16.000 [amazon.com] . He did it by using a minimum crew that worked for free, using stuff he already had at hand, using cheap lighting, university facilities, and some other technical money-saving techniques. Most of the money went to buying and developing film... so it could be argued that if he had access to a digital video camera at the time the movie would have cost almost nothing.

Kevin Smith did the award-winning cult-classic movie "Clerks" for U$S 27.000.

Hollywood doesn't know how to make movies for less than a couple of millions, and probably doesn't care... because throwing those millions around probably simplifies the process of getting the movie done on time, and they collect a bundle anyway, so it makes no sense to them to spend too little.

So actually... making a movie that would ordinarily cost 3-5 M for 1.75 M doesn't impress me.

Re:Color parent not informed (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16583464)

Robert Rodriguez did his award-winning film "El Mariachi" for U$S 16.000. Kevin Smith did the award-winning cult-classic movie "Clerks" for U$S 27.000.

You forgot the part about where Robert Rodriguez got the investment capital. He got the money taking weird drugs as a guinea pig for a Mexican pharmaceutical company. Not recommended for the average Pedro. As for Clerks costing $27,000: that was just to pay for the sound track at $1000 a song, the going rate. Everyone worked for free on that job, but you can be sure the distributor paid plenty to get the movie the rest of the way to the theater, including negative pickup, duplication, marketing, and delivery. Budgets that don't include what it takes to get to exhibition, the most important step in a movie's life, are not real budgets.

Hollywood doesn't know how to make movies for less than a couple of millions, and probably doesn't care... because throwing those millions around probably simplifies the process of getting the movie done on time, and they collect a bundle anyway, so it makes no sense to them to spend too little.

So actually... making a movie that would ordinarily cost 3-5 M for 1.75 M doesn't impress me.

You've obviously never made a movie before. Hollywood doesn't throw money around willy-nilly. Every penny is budgeted and accounted for. Everyone knows their job and does it right the first time -- and they are well rewarded for it because Hollywood appreciates a good worker and has no time for fuck-ups. Bringing a movie in on time saves money, it doesn't waste it. Every day that a movie goes over budget costs a small fortune. Real movies (not garbage shot in mom's basement) cost real money. I suggest to anyone who thinks they can make a quality movie* in a reasonable amount of time for less than a million to try it. You won't succeed, but you'll learn a lot. If amatuer hour is all you want then you can cut corners. If you want a professional product, hire the pros and expect to pay a pro's rate. Aside from a few ego-maniacal "stars", movies are so expensive because of the shear number of expert crew and technical elements involved. The camera and lenses alone are probably worth more than you'll make in a decade.

*cult classic != quality movie

collaborative novel are cr*p (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577188)

Ever read one of those novels written by a large number people?
They tend to be poor and uneven. A creative effort needs a strong leader. I'm guessing the same will be true for a collaborative movie.

Freeborn (1)

Chayak (925733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16578404)

Freeborn has been created somewhat with this model. Their forums and the werewolf fan community have contributed quite a bit to what they want to see in the movie so in a sense they are open with certain aspects of it.

Star Wreck (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#16579190)

Star Wreck was something (tho not exactly) like this.

It was worth the time I spent to watch it and I got some intentional laughs from it.

The key is the writing. It was decent but a little sophmoric in SW. Some parts were brilliant- truly brilliant- fresh new concepts- well delivered. A few parts were stale and cliched and probably should have been rewritten a few more times.

Then you need good actors to deliver the writing. While no one was a pro in SW, they were never wooden. Too camp for my taste but I recognize that was intentional.

A problem shared by the biggest budget, slickest hollywood production and the smallest fan film is when the person with power falls in love with some stupid idea. In the hollywood thing, they have the money so they destroy the film because they want something stupid in. In the independent thing, they are the creative force so they create the film that they want to create- it's true to their vision- but it stinks because some part of that vision was irritating to 99.9% of the rest of the world.

Big picture: We have a HUGE GLUT of entertainment in the world all ready. There are many wonderful 1930's films that are still rib crackingly funny (Bringing up Baby, A night at the Opera) or heartbreaking etc. Decades of great music. Decades of films. Decades of television shows. Every day the target audience fragments more. At some point- the salaries and the prices of entertainment must drop. Already, there's no point in pirating most movies since if you wait a few months you can pick them up for $5 to $8 bucks.

Copyright is not needed to encourage entertainment creation. If you create anything even remotely popular, at a $1 a pop, you are set for a couple years. That's huge incentive.

All I keep picturing... (1)

Buckler (732071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16579504)

...is Mel Gibson and Homer Simpson's remix of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Re:All I keep picturing... (1)

theproff (948847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16582282)

Homer: The villain should be a dog!
Mel: A dog? But then no one will know what's going on!
Homer: They will if you give him shifty eyes. Then they'll suspect the dog!

Sounds even better that Scott of the Antarctic (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580400)

Oops, I mean Scott of the Sahara.

IndieTalk.com (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16580548)

This is similar to an existing project we've been working on over at indietalk.com [indietalk.com] . We've been talking about this for a few months now.

Budget? So far, $0.

There's at least 10 people involved from at least three countries (USA, Canada, UK, maybe more).

Costs over a Million?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16581926)

With the reduction of costs in production and the move to have names that haven't been heard of yet (both as actors and various behind the camera positions) the cost to a film can be reduced quite signifigantly. Even with an entire Union based outfit (which is actually suggestible especially in this case) the costs for a film to be produced does not even have to break the Million mark. Its grotesque that films are made for a hundred to two hundred times that amount to be honest. Using machinima for storyboarding, collaborative scriptwriting (which while maybe not done on this scale, is done like that already in closed committee) exotic locations can be reproduced on the lot with bluescreen tech, stunts can be reproduced digitally if they are too complex in reality, camera's / lenses and the like are rapidly reducing in price (not to the range of the avg consumer but we are talking movies here, not XMas '06 home video). The Majority of the payment should be to the people who put in the 16-20 hour days, everyday, rain or shine... not necessarily people who happen to have a recognizable name.
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