Recenlty, there was a big brouhaha about a big local Philippine film fest posting previous years’ entries on YouTube during the last week of the festival. It angered a lot of the local filmmakers as they thought it was done without permission (even though it was in their contracts with the festival). Whether or not the festival did the right thing posting the videos without explicit permission, but with contractual permission, to me was not the troubling thing about the incident. It was the overall feeling of many of the filmmakers, who expressed that if they been consulted, they would not have agreed to have their year or two-year old films posted for free online, as it would risk piracy and hurt their ability to earn from these films. The fear of digital, of being unable to possibly get income from the old way of distributing and selling films, was palpable. Many filmmakers spend the awarding ceremony of the festival calling out the need for change in the festival, with one of the actresses in one of the films (a local movie star) claiming that posting the films online was equivalent to “stealing”.

On the other side of the pond, in the US, the exact OPPOSITE was happening. In 2013, many of the Oscar nominees for short films were having their short films posted online on YouTube and Vimeo, which resulted in a year where for the first time, a lot of the general public got to actually SEE the short films nominated for the Oscars for once. However, it was the distributor of the films to theaters who asked the filmmakers to take the films down, as they felt it was affecting the sellability of the films in theaters. But clearly, many of the filmmakers wanted to have their films online for free, for the public to see.

So in the Philippines, we have a film institution wanting to post films online for free to build an audience for Filipino films, and filmmakers who don’t want to do that for fear of losing potential income. In the U.S., we have filmmakers wanting to post films online for free to build an audience and their visibility, and an institution handling them who doesn’t want to do that for fear of losing potential income.

“The Cast” is online and totally free for anyone to read, even though it does cost us a bit to produce it (for the fantastic work Jhomar does for us with the art, he deserves to be paid so much more than we already do). So you can guess where I fall on this particular topic.

Cyber Controversy caps Cinemalaya
Changing Game of Distribution
Why Animated Shorts were pulled from the Internet