When filmmaker Nina Paley released her animation film, Sita Sings the Blues, on the Internet, she did not know whether she would recover the Rs 96 lakh that went into making it.
“When the film is free to download from the Internet, more people get to watch it and if they like it, they can send me a donation,” said the New York-based self-taught animator. Paley went on to add that she was yet to recover the money from the film — a contemporary version of the Ramayana.
Finnish filmmaker Samuli Torssonen released his first movie of the Star Wreck series in 1992, when he was 15. The latest edition of the Star Trek parody series, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, was released online in 2005 to a huge fan base. The film, which was downloaded five million times, set Torssonen and his team of five back by US $15,000 (around Rs 7.15 lakh). However, money has started flowing in from fans who pay because they like the series.
Now, the UK-based Revolver Entertainment plans to release the film on DVD in Europe and the US.
“With the Internet, it’s possible to not pay for each film you watch. Instead, pay a monthly fee to a Web portal and watch all the movies that filmmakers sell to the site’s database,” said Torssonen.
In 2006, Blender Foundation released a short animated film, Elephants Dream on the Web.
The movie, made on a budget of €2.5 lakh (Rs 1.73 crore), was partly financed by users of the company’s Blender software, a free, open-source three-dimensional content creation site.
“For independent and small cinema, Internet opens up opportunities that go far beyond what could be achieved via traditional distribution. How this will develop is still unknown, but our experiments show that newer methods are evolving,” said Dutch filmmaker Ton Roosendaal, chief executive officer of the Blender Foundation.
Solomon Rothman, a US-based actor-director-writer says the Internet has made films less expensive and more profitable.
“The Internet has enabled filmmakers from world over to build teams of creative individuals and give life to new stories. You can release your film online, monetise in a number of ways and if people like it, the word will spread like a virus on social media sites,” he said.
(with inputs from Serena Menon)