WHY AM I GIVING MY FILMS AWAY FOR FREE?

Over the next month or so I’ll be uploading to my website all my films for free – to view, share and download. There are lots of reasons for doing this not least of all the numerous low-quality pirate versions and bit-torrents of films I’ve made (World of Skinhead in particular) but more importantly because new filmmaking isn’t really on my radar at the moment (for health reasons) So instead what I want to do try to do is put a bit of energy into getting  stuff I’ve done seen by as many folk out-there as might want to see it and (here’s the important bit) start  a dialogue with an audience. Just like you might do, I still do wake up in the morning and think (once I’ve realized I’m still breathing) that I’m a Filmmaker of sorts. Down the decades I’ve pretty much just got on and done my thing and  ‘written with a camera’ mostly and gone out of my way to engage with people and their stories and also with whatever the technology is I’ve had to hand. No – I have not been lucky enough to shoot any of my films with a Red, a Black Magic thing or with an Alexa Super – instead I’ve just used whatever was available.

In the past this approach use to be called ‘Poor Cinema’ but now sadly it has a bastard called ‘piss-poor’ TV.

I admit what I do and have done in the past is not everyone’s cup of tea or skinny-latte – It’s not meant to be. In the end, I don’t really care if in the process of just doing my thing that I’ve managed to upset, get threatened by and blacklisted by the Security services, TV Commissioning Execs, the Politically correct, The Scottish Arts Establishment, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, the Boring, Crooks, Liars, Villains, War criminals, Mafia-scum and even other Filmmakers. Fuck em’ really – it’s better to piss-off a minority that don’t matter to save what has really mattered and has always mattered to us filmmakers  all along – the journey, the creative exploration, that magical word: intent and the test of your convictions and baws that go along with making art in the first place.

Well  – that’s the easy bit dealt with.  Now onto the more difficult bit. Because what really matters more than any of the conviction stuff is that what we do gets to be seen by as many people as possible. Not just by elitist cliques at oversubscribed film-festivals or even exhibited once or twice (if you’re lucky) by a self-promoting distributor with an agenda that’s as exclusive as Granta magazine. Neither should we sit-back and let films which we have often spent years making get buried by TV Commissioners, Kids in suits or scheduler whose real job it is to deliver viewers to advertisers and keep the overpaid PR folk happy in TV branding departments.

As Filmmakers its fundamental to our spirits that what we do gets seen: By as many people as possible – and by all means possible and by any means that we think are necessary, even if they do border on the grey areas of legality.

So I’ve stopped kidding myself that I’m saving my precious ‘content’ (how I hate that word!) for the right distribution deal or curator or festival invitation to come along.

It’s time for things to be seen, shared and down-loaded. After all what else would it all be doing other than just sitting on a hard drive picking up viruses or lying in a tape archive gathering dust? And then there is also the fact that if anyone is going to pirate what I – or you do – and make it go viral, than perhaps it should be us in the first place?

Because we need to find our audiences by accident as much as by intent and not just by demography even if we end up giving our stuff away for free and break a few rules if not the law in the process. Because it means at least someone, somewhere might just be watching what we do and it’s also always worth remembering that PayPal have a button you can install on your website called Donations and Vimeo have Tip Jar!