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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Thoughts on 'Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning', The Most Popular Finnish Film Of All Time

I downloaded a little 2005 Finnish film called 'Star Wreck: The Pirkinning' yesterday and watched it just now after reading Lainie's recommendation (interestingly, her site is starting to become a daily read for me these days).

My expectations weren't exactly high despite what Lainie said, suspecting the possibility that she might be bitterly sarcastic, and that she was just trying to drag someone else with her after facing the torture herself. But this independently-financed feature-length film, a Star Trek parody (note that it's not a spoof, but a parody), was a pleasant surprise, and good inspiration for a lot of indie filmmakers seeking non-traditional distribution methods (as in, skipping the festival circuits, or seeking desperate distribution deals from major film companies) by immediately tapping into the force of the Internet.

6 years in the making, the film itself was fun to watch, although I felt that the best parts of the film were during the first act, during Captain James B Pirk's quest to take over the world (the 'propaganda video' was GOLD!), and that the subsequent space battle was a bit too drawn out (the rest of the film was pretty much about the battle), it's still really good (and funny) stuff.

Looking at its Wikipedia entry, I got to realize what a huge impact this film had made in Finland, as it is currently the most popular film of all-time in that country with 3.5 to 4 million downloads since it was available last November!!! In addition to the downloadable versions, DVDs are for sale too, with sales increasing AFTER the film was made available on the Internet. Yes, AFTER! Both releases are under the Creative Commons license, where anyone's free to distribute the film around as long as it's non-commercial and credit is given to the creators.

Seeing this, I wonder how many indie filmmakers from Australia and Malaysia may start adopting this method of distribution. (I mention these two countries because one is where I'm mostly at in the past few years, and another is where I'm from) Of course, Star Wreck's fame wasn't gained overnight, as its first short movie was conceived back in 1994, and then there was a fanbase generated via IRC and its message board (I'm making the assumptions based on what was written in the end credits of the film), hundreds of these fans, by the way, were responsible for the filmmaking process.

So, what other aspiring/ indie filmmakers in Australia, Malaysia and even Singapore (hey, I can't leave out my own birth country, right?) are planning to do something like this? Productions like these are usually independent ones, hidden from the public view and knowledge, much unlike those huge studio productions newspapers are constantly harping about. But then, will people of these countries really support the films if it were available online? Well, I guess it's really based on the quality of the film, or whether it has any entertainment value (it doesn't have to be high art... hell, it's preferrably NOT high art. Refer to the most-viewed videos in Youtube, none of them were attempting to win Oscars).

Anyway, enough with my pondering (which will most likely spring very little answers), for myself, I am most likely going to experiment with this distribution method if I make a feature-length film that I feel can appeal to the masses (something my friend Sebastian is highly sceptical about, being the supposed artsy-fartsy dude I am, haha!). Although it's arguable that I AM already using such methods with my video blog entries and my usage of Youtube, but those are for my personal videos, not my films. For now, I'm just more about polishing and sharpening my own craft, seeing whether any of my works could be accepted by a single film festival in this world. The exposure may not be as wide as relying on the Internet, obviously, but the value of being accepted is definitely there. I doubt the new media would really obliterate traditional methods of film distribution (though it will be affected in the long run). Hmm.

Anyway, yes, go download Star Wreck here for free. Besides the stuff you see in cinemas and DVD shops, there're still lots of great stuff waiting for you to explore on the Internet. Give them a chance, otherwise your refusal to acknowledge their existence will soon make you obsolete.

Miu Miu.

(So says the Great Swifty, who is still mildly unhappy that Astro's not releasing 'Trio On A Bed' on the Internet, where's my daily dose of Carmen Soo, Amber Chia and Anabelle Kong?)