Pirates Force Go-Kustom Films to Pursue New Release Strategies for Second Feature Film "Rat Rod Rockers!"
Go-Kustom Films loses big money with over 84,000 illegal downloads of their last film Hot Rod Girls Save the World.
Seattle, WA - It’s late at night and a young man is finishing up his last minute pirate activities. He sees an underground film on a peer to peer site that he has heard about in a psychobilly/horror pop webzine. Its called Hot Rod Girls Save The World. He squints- the file is not too big and he has plenty of disc space. He quickly klicks his mouse and slides back in his chair- the damage is done. Not to him of course, but to one of the many fledgling indie-film companies around the world. In this scenario it is Go-Kustom Films.
Hot Rod Girls Save The World was made on a miniscule budget of less than $3,000. D.A. Sebasstian, the films writer and director, was able to keep costs down by doing most of the work himself. Everything from the soundtrack, set design and construction, special effects, audio mixing, make-up design and editing were all done by Sebasstian. This took him nearly five years of hard work to get from the films inception to it’s completion. Sebasstian also runs Go-Kustom Rekords & Films and sometimes thinks more like a film company owner, than a film maker.
Without shopping the film to a distributor, Hot Rod Girls Save The World was immediately pressed to DVD and made available on Amazon, IndieFlix, Go-Kustom and various other websites. Says Sebasstian, “Looking back- going directly to DVD may have not been the best answer for this films release. We did some initial private screenings, four wall events and then a few festivals, but we really worried about our limited advertising budget and initial DVD sales, so we pressed Hot Rod Girls right away.”
Nowadays making a film available on DVD, also means making the film available to potential pirates. With modern ripping software, almost anyone can de-encrypt a DVD, rip it and make the file available on Peer To Peer sites for anyone else to gobble up. Initially Sebasstian didn’t think this was such an issue until a random internet search of the films title proved otherwise. Recently a Google Search of Hot Rod Girls Save the World (on 04/19/10) came up with the following-
Download Cave 1,107 downloads
Download Archive 26,471 downloads
Torrent2Crazy 21,024 downloads
DARelease 36,066 downloads
That is a whopping 84,668 downloads from just four sites in one year! At the standard $4.00 per download that's an estimated loss of $338,672 in potential revenue! Now- granted many who download the film for free would never buy this or any other film and how accurate are those website counters anyway? But taking into account that this was not an in-depth web search by any means, 84,668 downloads is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Says Sebasstian, “While it is flattering to see Hot Rod Girls Save The World is an underground hit- it is impossible to sustain a film company if people just flat out refuse to pay to watch it. This is really effecting the small guys like us- disproportionately so when compared to the bigger Hollywood Company titles. I mean we’ve sold over 1,300 Hot Rod Girls DVDs and had hundreds of paid downloads but come on- this is crazy!” By comparison the most popular single scene from Hot Rod Girls Save The World (Scene 77) currently has just 26,286 views on YouTube (as of 04/19/10).
This whole experience has led Go-Kustom Films to reevaluate their films release strategies. Says Sebasstian, “Our next film, Rat Rod Rockers! comes out summer 2010 and we have already decided not to go straight to DVD. We also don’t want any full length versions of the DVD being sent out as promotion or to film festivals. We just don’t want to risk it. We are also talking about touring Rat Rod Rockers! around the U.S. with some of the Actors and Hot Rods from the film in tow. Mostly playing it at Car Shows, small theaters, drive-ins and music events. We have also looked into possible stream only websites and doing a payed mobile device release that would make the film available for viewing, but not look good on a bigger screen (i.e. DVD or Blu-Ray quality). We are still in the planning stages for the initial release of Rat Rod Rockers! Eventually though, it will have to be on DVD. We even thought about hiring a Gypsy Witch to curse all who pirate the new film...just kidding. ”
Go-Kustom is worried about loosing early sales of the film without a physical DVD available, but has some creative ideas to overcome this. One possibility is selling Director Signed cases at shows and screenings minus the actual DVD. Each case would be given a tracking number with the purchasers mailing information. When the DVD of Rat Rod Rockers! becomes available, Go-Kustom would then mail out the DVDs directly to the case holders. Although this sounds elaborate, it could generate sales and interest in the film without the film suffering from initial release pirate buzz kill.
About pirates and the anguish they cause the DIY film maker, Sebasstian says, “Please Don’t Pirate- Buy Indie!”
For more information about Go-Kustom and it’s music and film releases-
please visit www.go-kustom.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org