Write Design Multimedia

Monday, July 24, 2006

Cashing in on the Loose Change phenomenon

From: C21's Factual Week

9/11 conspiracy doc Loose Change 2nd Edition has attracted huge grassroots interest and a potential theatrical release, all thanks to the internet. With growing numbers of filmmakers parading their wares online, Antony Reeve-Crook asks if VoD and user-generated websites are now the ideal hunting ground for distributors seeking the next factual blockbuster.

Louder Than Words, the US indie prodco behind controversial 9/11 online factual smash Loose Change 2nd Edition, is in talks with four producers looking to make a final cut of the movie.

The 90-minute examination of the terror attacks, in which fledgling filmmakers Korey Rowe and Dylan Avery point the finger of blame at the Bush administration, is currently averaging more than 20,000 downloads a day on Google Video, and UK distributor Mercury Media is on board for the international, non-US rights.

Yet Loose Change failed to pull in a single interested party when Mercury initially pitched it to broadcasters in January.

But now, spurred into action by Vanity Fair magazine's recent claim that the doc would be one of the most popular - and incendiary - movies in the US right now as a theatrical release, the film's stock has skyrocketed.

"All it took for us to get noticed was one mainstream magazine coming out and doing an article on us," Rowe tells C21. "Beforehand we talked to movie companies and they said 'Oh it's good but you kind of hurt yourself by putting it online.' But things are not like that any more. If you want your media and your message to be heard, then online is the way to go."

His view is echoed by Mercury Media MD Tim Sparke (left). "I don't think it makes any difference if anyone sees something on the net," he says. "It isn't going to be an impediment to them watching it on TV, on DVD or on film. In many cases, they will go and see it at the cinema because they saw it on the internet."

In the case of a doc such as Loose Change, the internet certainly creates a furore that is difficult to emulate elsewhere.

The name Loose Change refers to the 200 or so pieces of video shot by broadcasters in the wake of the twin towers' collapse. Both Louder Than Words and Sparke argue that by freely distributing your investigative documentary, others with undiscovered material are prompted to come forward and add to it.

"The more information that comes to light, the more it gets out there," he says. "Other people have got different pieces of the puzzle to add. There's much more material in the final cut of Loose Change because these new pieces of information have come to light."

Loose Change began with a 1,000-DVD pressing made available over the internet in April 2005 and since then has been downloaded more than 10 million times on Google Video. Its online following has enabled Mercury to strike network deals with TV4 in Sweden, Planete Poland, Israel's Noga and MBC. Belgium's VRT will run some of the film's content for 9/11 fifth anniversary specials, as will Vara in Holland. Norway's TV2 is looking at it, as are Five and ITV4 in the UK.

"The internet is particularly suited to documentaries, and especially suited to docs that are not funded by a broadcaster," says Sparke. "There are literally hundreds of doc producers out there just doing it because they want to, but we're not in a position to put money into docs on the same basis."

Loose Change 2's success has also prompted Mercury to showcase its documentaries on a new website called Joining the Dots, launching in October. "We're going to have upwards of 100 documentaries in what is essentially a club," says Sparke. "It's out of the experience of Loose Change 2 that we've decided to set this up, because we feel that there's a massive audience out there that just isn't served - people who want to access all the one-off documentaries but can't get them."

In the US, Louder Than Words - still driven by its grassroots support - is deciding which of the four movie studios it will partner with to make Loose Change Final Edition. "If this film's as big as we think it could be then it could rival Fahrenheit 9/11 as a commercial property," says Sparke.

Not bad going for a factual film that cost just US$10,000 to produce and nothing to distribute.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home