The majority of the pirate sites were set up for you to think you were going to get access but the second you clicked you would be taken to another page with the same promise while another page loaded in the background. These sites are making their money off of advertising. Each time you click or load up a page they get paid.
A few actually started to spam my computer with ads. Most of these sites want you to “sign up” for a free membership to gain access. Once they get your email they can sell it to other black market internet scumbags that will begin to spam you like there is no tomorrow. There is an entire black market economy based on access or the promise of access to pirated films and music. This is nothing new as the 80’s masterpiece Amazon Women from the Moon so beautifully showed us.
Ever since the invention of Betamax and VHS, an entire underground industry was born. Film piracy is a fact of life. You can complain about it. Get angry. Try to fight it or you can just accept that piracy isn’t going anywhere.
“You can’t fight piracy, you can only compete with it.” – Steve Jobs
So what is an indie filmmaker to do? You have to start thinking like a Filmtrepreneur! I’ve been preaching this for a while now and wrote an entire book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Film into a Moneymaking Business, not only warning filmmakers of the new film economy but showed them how to turn their indie films into moneymaking businesses.
If you rely completely on revenue from the exploitation of your film you will not make it. The studios figured that out years ago. That is why all the major studios are focusing on tentpole, event style films. That way they can generate money from ancillary product lines. Disney made much more money on ancillary products and services from their film Frozen and Frozen 2 than the billion-dollar-plus box office receipts.
If you want to do a deep dive into where the studios are actually making their money read The New Film Marketplace: Why Your Indie Film Isn’t Worth What You Think It Is.
If you think like a Filmtrepreneur then pirates can possibly help you. What? Help you? Yes, think about it. Season 7 of Game of Thrones was pirated over a billion times. HBO executive Jeff Bewkes said
“We’ve been dealing with this for 20, 30 years – people sharing subs, running wires down the backs of apartment buildings. Our experience is that it leads to more paying subs. I think you’re right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world and that’s better than an Emmy.”
The reason they didn’t care as much is that they had a service they were selling. The more people that saw and were exposed to Game of Thrones the more people wanted to keep watching, which led to more subscribers.
If you design your film as a marketing lead generator that brings potential customers into your eco-system of ancillary products and services then the pirates are helping you distribute your lead generator to the world. If you are relying solely on making money from the exploitation of your film then you are going to have a rough time. That is why film distributors are having such a tough time generating revenue from their catalogs of films.
If it isn’t piracy then its people expecting to watch films as part of a subscription plan like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The times they are a-changing. If you want to learn how to become a Filmtrepreneur read Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Film into a Moneymaking Business. You can even listen to the first two chapters of the audiobook for free. Take a listen.