Aussie Film The Tunnel Set To Revolutionise Film Distribution On May 19

Digital piracy is a war with many sides, with each party standing firmly on their own side of a thick line in the sand. But a group of young Aussie filmmakers are hoping to blur those lines with the impending release of their upcoming horror film The Tunnel, which will launch simultaneously on DVD and on Bittorrent trackers around the world on May 19.

"From the very beginning, even from the very beginning of the concept, before we started pitching it to anyone or by going down this whole path of putting it out there in the world, [releasing the film on Bittorrent]was never negotiable and we've stayed true to that", writer and executive producer of the film, Julian Harvey told us during a phone interview.

The path from concept to impending release has been an interesting one for the filmmakers. Using the unique financing model of letting potential fans purchase frames from the movie, the film was created on a low budget and with the hard work of a small, passionate team. Despite the backing of Andrew Denton's production company Zapruder's Other Films, in September, the team faced another issue when the Amazon-owned IMDB refused to list the film in their database. That's been sorted now, and in an exciting development, the film's picked up DVD distribution from Paramount Home Entertainment.

"We were actually quite pleased and surprised at the reaction we got from [Paramount] . We took it in as a very casual, "tell us what you think" chat, and a lot of the drive forward actually came from their end. So we were quite surprised by that, to say the least, but also quite pleased with the fact that they could see a way to make [the digital distribution]work" says Enzo Tedeschi, one of the film's writers and executive producers.

Given that Paramount is a part of AFACT, the body that's spent the past few years battling iiNet in court over digital piracy, the move for them to actively support a local film that will be available to legally download for free on the Internet the same day the DVD goes on sale is a pretty big step forward. But from the sound of it, going straight to DVD was a much simpler option than having a theatrical release.

"The biggest challenge for a theatrical release is that that online releas is a big shift in perception for traditional distributors. So to try and convince someone to see a way to do a DVD release is a completely different thing to convincing somebody to do a theatrical release - there's a lot more logistics and money involved up front. We just found that people were hesitant - they liked the idea but they were hesitant - to make that commitment," Harvey admitted.

The question must be asked though - if you can't get your movies into the theatre, why would you continue to drive down the path of free, legal online distribution? Harvey tells us that the drive to release the film online comes down to exposure: "The idea and the attitude behind is that we're trying to create an audience for this film that may not otherwise have seen it, or may not have otherwise had the opportunity to see it. We're also trying to look at an audience at a global level."

It's an interesting approach, but one that has gained worldwide attention, "We know for a fact that there are some very interesting people keeping an eye on what we're doing and seeing how it plays out," Tedeschi tells us, although he wouldn't say who. But it's enough for the filmmakers to have confidence in the online distribution method, albeit potentially with a few tweaks in the future.

"There's definitely something here that is working, and we would be interested in continuing, but whether it's exactly the same or whether we develop it further or how that all plays out will really depend on the next couple of months and the release and how the audience responds", Harvey says. Tedeschi adds: "There's a couple of thousand people now who we can call fans of the film - it would be silly of us to not try and capitalise on that in some way for the next project."

The frame tally is currently at about 30,000 sold, with just over 100,000 frames still available. While there's still a couple of months before the film is released on both DVD and Bittorrent, it's worth applauding these young Aussie filmmakers for not only attempting to change the way films are distributed, but also sticking it out and pushing their approach past the anti-piracy Hollywood machine. If you haven't already bought a frame or two, and when you do see the film on Bittorrent, give it a watch and - if you enjoy it - go out and buy the DVD.

[The Tunnel]

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    I for one will buy the dvd when it come out, whose with me!!

    It's free because you couldn't sell a movie on THAT trailer. Despite being free.... pass.

    Great coverage Nick. It's definitely an innovative and courageous method of production and distribution. I hope it takes off so we can see more film makers embracing digital mediums rather than fight them.

    I invested a whole $1 in my frame of The Tunnel about a year ago and had forgotten all about it. Good to see it's nearly here.

    Not sure about the quality of the film after seeing that trailer, but for free (or $1 if I want to get technical) who's complaining? :)

    I am really looking forward to see how this project goes.

    Have already bought some frames and will be downloading on day one.

    If it is good, I will be buying the disc.

    Good luck to this group of forward thinkers who dare to try something different, and hopefully it helps to propel our flagging film industry.

    I didn't even watch the trailer, but I suppose this in principle so I bought a frame. :)

    i dont quite understand how they plan on making a profit from this...
    people who want a free movie are hardly likely to buy a frame when they can just download it for nothing anyway...

    I have never once watched a movie on Netflix streaming and then went out and bought the movie on DVD.

    I supposed some people who pirate films do that occasionally if they want to insist they're not stealing movies, "I pay for it if I like it enough!" but why pay for something that's free? Who does that?

    Strange, magical thinking in my mind.

    I bought a frame to support them, trailer def looks low budget tho :p

    Sorry, the frame selling idea is not unique. Afia Nathaniel's Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls started selling frames ages ago:

    First commercial movie released in torrent network was:Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning

    There is no revolutionary in this case. Period.

    I'd prefer to download it, watch it, and send the company some money amount if I liked it.

    That way, they get the money directly, no distributor middlemen.

    Sorry, this is not a new concept. Websites like Kickstarter & IndieGoGo have been raising funds for films in excess of this amount for years...big fish in small pond syndrome? One only has to do a trip to the US to see what is really going on around teh world. Copycat tactics are not original or impressive.

    One suspects that they are piggybacking off the reputation of Zapruder's to launch this film, which isn't altogether surprising considering the quality of shows like Hungry Beast!

    These guys are TOTAL hypocrites...they are completely contradicting what they originally set out to do! They have proved that they are just like everybody else seeking out fame & fortune. A cheap looking trailer + marketing does not guarantee quality or success. I can almost guarantee you this will be one of those DVDs sitting in the local video store in the '$1 for 7 night section which people won't even get a 2nd look. There are plenty more out there. As for the horror genre, it is well known that it doesn't interest many people. They've lost my vote & many others I know as well. @ the end of the day it will be the audience who will decide, not their egos & my mind is well & truly made up based on principle alone...

    So was this movie filmed at 25 frames per second? 135,000 frames for a 90 minute (5400 seconds) movie equates to this. As far as I know 50-60 frames a second is the standard.

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