The Age of Stupid is a documentary film about the oil industry and climate change. It was directed by Franny Armstrong and produced by Lizzie Gillett. I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve watched the making of (embedded below) and perused the web site and I suspect it’s a very good film.
The business model behind it is brilliant; totally amazing. Much of the financing was raised through crowd sourcing which has reulted in Gillett and Armstrong owning all the rights to their film. They have used a distribution agent for some territories but they have made a lot of deals on their own, managing to organize a global premiere of over 500 screenings in 40 countries with live transmissions via satellite from New York.
Gillett and Armstrong have created web-based software that allows anyone to book, license and organize a screening.
Anyone in the world is now able to buy a licence to screen The Age of Stupid whenever and wherever they like. Our cunning software will calculate the license according to who you are, where you plan to screen, how many people you’re screening to and where you are in the world. You can even keep the profits for yourselves or for your climate campaign.
In the Power to the Pixel 2009 video (below, the filmmakers talk with great excitement and charm about how they raised the money for the film and how they are profiting from it. They give numbers. But according to them, the biggest advantage of retaining all the rights has not been the profits (although they seem quite delighted with those), but the total editorial freedom they enjoyed.
The video is long (23 minutes) but totally worth viewing because it offers a glimpse to one possible future of entertainment, one that is artist controlled — and in which the artists actually make a profit from their work.
Based on the making of video below, it looks like The Age of Stupid is a terrific film.