Producers Blog - from Iron Sky to Mad Heidi
Our producer Tero Kaukomaa (Iron Sky) has a few words to say about the future of film distribution:
Power to the People - The Fun Way!
Hollywood will survive, but maybe not as we know it, especially given changing tastes in how we consume movies. And what about the impact of Covid-19? We are all aware of the way the virus has changed our personal lives, but it might also speed up the changes in the way films are distributed. With cinemas near-deserted in many places the big studios are already looking more closely at alternative ways to cover their expenses and, ideally, to make a profit. Studios will find a way, that's for sure, but for me it's clear that there will soon be a new normal, where consumers get more say and can choose how, where and when to experience content. And I’m all in! Why?
Since the dawn of movie piracy, the film industry has simply not risen to the challenge it poses. The industry has stubbornly tried to protect the windows between theatrical screenings and the rest. And, from a studio´s perspective, I totally understand this. Studios have the machinery, power and control to organize global simultaneously cinema release, day and date as they call it. But that is not possible for an indie film, which usually relies on 20 to 40 different regional distribution deals. To get all the distributors to obey to your plan for a certain release date is nearly impossible. They all have their own schedules planned for the next 12-18 months ahead, and won’t budge for one indie movie, no way. Not all of them anyway.
With a fan-powered film like Iron Sky that means most of the fans would have to wait for the local premiere to take place to be able to see the film legally. In our digital and highly connected world, where the word - and data - go around the globe in the blink of an eye, this is not an option. If the content is not available immediately, people will resort to piracy. And it's not hard to do.
We learned all this the hard way with Iron Sky. The film was released successfully at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, and very soon we had sold over one million cinema tickets across Europe! We were heading for a successful US release, but everything changed when our UK distributor, without consulting us or anyone else, decided to release the film on BluRay and DVD months before the rest of the world was due to get it. No surprise that this led to massive piracy problems. And Iron Sky gained the questionable honor of being in the top 10 of the most pirated films in the world, ever. Over 50 million people pirated the film and, of course, we missed out on all that revenue. For a small sweatshop like ours, this was a crippling blow.
But thankfully that cloud had a silver lining. Those who had pirated Iron Sky would obviously not now go to movie theatres to see it. So, we started to offer them other options like buying a T-shirt or a special edition BluRay to show their support. This mitigated some of the damage our UK distributor had caused, and it also taught us an invaluable lesson: most of these so-called “pirates” are actually entertainment heavy users, and they are often willing to pay for it given the chance. The trick is to make sure it is easy for them to do the right thing.
With these lessons in mind, for our next film Mad Heidi, we have adopted a completely new approach to the whole business of film finance and distribution, one that better suits fan-driven genre films reaching out to the global audiences. In short, we have opted for a film that is financed, produced, and distributed with the fans, by the fans, and for the fans. I call it the “fun way”, and it is in stark contrast to the traditional crawling and bending over backward independent filmmakers have to do to satisfy the whims of regional distributors.
Our whole strategy is based around the noise the fan base makes, and this noise drives the audience to our platform and makes sure the money goes where it belongs – to the backers who make this film possible. Echoes strengthen echoes, and yes, in case you were wondering, we will release Mad Heidi on the same day, worldwide!
This is possible only by maintaining full control over the film. For Mad Heidi we won't accept any money which would take control out of our hands. And I do not just mean artistic control, but also full control over the economics and revenue streams. This is why we created the Mad Invest platform, a fully digital and automated, blockchain-based technology that makes fan revenue participation both easy and completely transparent.
The new Mad Invest platform will be launched online on 29 September 2020 during the Zurich Film Festival. For our fans, we are giving them the opportunity to join 5 days in advance of the public launch. Sign up today to get this exclusive early access. First come, first serve. Thank you. Visit invest.madheidi.com
Oh, and one more thing. We have put together a great Mad Heidi team! FilmChain from the UK, Winner of 'Blockchain Founder of the Year' UK Tech Founder Awards 2018, is providing us with their experience in revenue collection using blockchain technology. The Relevance House, a cutting-edge, full-service marketing and PR agency like no other, is supporting us with PR and marketing for the film. And our own core Mad Heidi team consists of me and Valentin, the producers, Johannes the director and his partner Sandro, and Sapir and Josh who are taking care of the backend – as well as my long-time partner Timo from Finland, who has come onboard as a producer.
I hope you've liked what you've read. If you have any questions please feel free to Ask Me Anything!
PPS. While my dream is to create an environment where creators can control their intellectual property online, I wholeheartedly believe that going to the cinema will remain the most authentic way to enjoy films, now and in the future. My goal is that Mad Heidi achieves a level of success online to guarantee demand for cinema event screenings all across the world. On top of that, we will be organizing a Zurich Fan World Premiere for Mad Heidi, where our fans from all over the world can physically meet and greet the filmmakers and the stars – and each other! Watch this space. Viva Mad Heidi!