Not many shoestring-budget documentary films get seen by 4.86 million people.
It helps that “Steal this Film” covers the war between Hollywood and a prevailing mode of online video distribution, and that the film’s logo stood in for the pirate ship on the front page of the world’s favorite torrent site when it launched.
But given that geek-specific content often blazes trails for other genres (examples include digg.com, the blogosphere, or the internet itself– take your pick) it’s not unreasonable to see Steal this Film as a model for documentary distribution. The film’s success hints at a new funding model too. A donation solicitation that filmmakers consider rudimentary (or maybe they said “half-assed”, I don’t remember) managed to net a pretty significant amount of Euro.
(In every conversation I have with documentary makers, reaching tons of people online and having them pay you is the Holy Grail. So STF’s experiments are a big deal).
And now, with Steal This Footage, they’re pushing forward on another frontier that will be (and I’m sure about this) hugely important to documentary film: footage sharing and collaborative creation. You can download each unedited interview, browse by transcript, and download full-quality footage via Bittorrent that you can re-use in your film (everything is under an open license). Check out Elizabeth Eisenstein discussing the printing press as disruptive technology. Or subscribe in the Miro Guide.
They have more interviews they’d like to put up, and need help doing transcriptions. I should note that these folks are good Miro friends–one of the filmmakers was the first community member to submit a patch to Miro. So if you want to show some volunteer love, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.