Tag Archives: torrents

Saving The Portage is Not Just About Preserving the Past

There’s been a great response to our first post about saving The Portage Theater from closure. Thanks to everyone, especially to Alderman John Arena and Portage Park Neighborhood Association for supporting this treasure. Join Save the Portage Theater on Facebook if you haven’t already.

One point I wanted to raise is what The Portage can do for current and future filmmakers. A lot of the emphasis in saving the theater will center on what it’s provided in the past, and that’s fantastic and vital. But I don’t want to lose sight on what the theater can do for us struggling filmmakers who want to find methods of distribution outside of traditional means.

The following is a crosspost of a comment I made regarding this issue on the Chicago page of The Huffington Post:

“One major issue for me (as one of the co-founders of The Underground Multiplex, the site that first broke this story) is that more independent theaters are needed if local entertainment producers and distributors want to steer away from old corporate paradigms. File sharing is a reality, and no matter how much Hollywood wants to fight it, it’s here to stay. Independent theaters like The Portage are vital to have non-Hollywood films screened and create a connection to fans of new, self-produced movies first released via torrents.

So this is not only about keeping the extremely important connection with films of the past, it’s also about establishing a viable film center of new entertainment outside of Los Angeles and NYC. Without theaters like The Portage, this can’t possibly happen.”


Another crowdsourcing success: Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs”

Mike Daisey’s successful one-man show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” bore more fruit this week.  He just released his stage play, about the anguish of discovering the terrible conditions in which iPhones are made, for use by anyone online.

The response: 60,000 downloads in 48 hours! He’s now had offers to produce his work in as many as 11 different countries. All he’s requesting is credit for the original work (but even that is unnecessary).

This is an example of creative commons at work. Daisey’s insured himself audiences worldwide as a result of this. Why can’t Hollywood think of making similar generous examples instead of trying to squelch indie producers like us?

If you are in Chicago, Daisey will be performing “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” at The Chicago Theatre in conjunction with WBEZ Chicago and hosted with Q&A by Ira Glass.

For Your Inconsideration: Why Oscar Lost Me (and It Hasn’t Anything to Do with the Nominees)

F**k the Oscars!

Once again, it’s time for that yearly ritual in which film fans root for the movies and actors that won’t win their expected awards. Parties will be held with fans who’ll argue/commiserate about botched voting and even worse presentations, speeches, fashions, music numbers and lousy jokes. We fans have lived through these year in and year out and still come back for more.

There’s a complicity we have with the film industry. We love the spectacle, so we’ll put up with yearly self-congratulatory nonsense because we care about the art of filmmaking. Make no mistake about it: the Oscars are all about giving the industry golden pleasure. The Academy, in service to the industry, infuriates many by not taking major chances while at the same time soothing us with montages of great films and figures of years past. Tugging at our sense of the nostalgic times we at least perceived films to have been better always gets us and makes us hope that next year will be different.

But I’ve had it with this deceitful  game. Why? Because in this past year, the film industry became especially aggressive with MPAA head Chris Dodd going on the warpath against “piracy, ” just short of claiming it was causing the whole film world to come crashing down.

All we have to do to appease Chris Dodd and the film studios are to:

1.  Censor and break the internet

The MPAA thought it was going to be a piece of cake to get SOPA and PIPA passed through a paid-off Congress and a sleeping public. Thankfully, Dodd got his ass kicked when web-wide sign off filled the pants and panties of former legislative supporters. Oh, and keep in mind–this legislation Dodd wants is modeled after China’s model of censorship, which he longs for.

2.   Accept his lies about how film industries have been destroyed or at least suffering badly

Dodd embarrassed himself when he publicly stated that the film industries of Spain, Egypt and Sweden are gone.  Sweden, of course, released two of the most popular foreign films in years: Let the Right One In and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  If Spain were hurting, the film world would be abuzz with the unemployment of Pedro Almodovar and Alex De La Iglesia.  Dodd can’t even lie convincingly with Egypt, which just went through a revolution.

Revenues for movie studios have almost doubled between 1998 and 2010. So much for the horrible toll piracy has on making money. Perhaps it’s a money management/distribution problem. Would you like the government to handle those for the movie studios, Mr. Dodd?

3. Turn over your personal property to authorities

Picture this: you live in an apartment building. Your landlord is on another floor. The FBI believes your landlord is a major thief, so they raid and confiscate all his property and all the legally owned belongings of yours and your neighbors. Then, the authorities decide to destroy everything.

That, in a nutshell, is kinda what happened when authorities seized and shut down Megaupload recently. Oh, the film industry was so happy about finally getting Kim Dotcom arrested and forcing Megaupload out of business.  From the news coverage, you would have thought a major drug bust was made. However, the dicks went limp for these roosters when it was learned that millions of legal files owned by various consumers were seized and threatened with destruction. Now there’s a call for a class action lawsuit against the FBI.

4.  Accept his bribes and do his bidding

Just watch. 30 years as a Senator taught him well:

Or read.

There’s more, but I think you get the idea. The film studios are not satisfied with the stringent piracy laws already in place, so they would rather lazily have the US government get involved, using cash they could be using on innovation they ignore.  Meanwhile, talented indie producers/directors can’t get decent deals that pay them properly for their work, leading them to realize that sending their films via torrents would actually, in the long run, give them better exposure than through traditional channels. Just ask Heather Ferreira.

So screw the Oscars! I don’t want to celebrate the accomplishments of an industry that has its greedy head up its ass. Stars or no stars.

Lew’s Guest Post on “In Our Words” Blog

Hey, all!

I have an entry in Nico Lang’s very fine blog In Our Words, ranting about Hollywood’s portrayal of gay main characters in high-profile films after Brokeback Mountain. Head on over there and give it a read.