Indie zombie movie Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead has had a limited release around Australia, and has enjoyed a pretty positive reception from critics and moviegoers alike. The film was released onto iTunes in the US over the weekend, but it's getting much more attention on the internet from illegitimate downloads on torrent sites.
Here's the thing — you shouldn't pirate Wyrmwood. It's pretty much indefensible.
Wyrmwood is the product of Guerilla Films brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner, and was shot on a shoestring $160,000 budget — but after marketing and post-production expenses, has cost around $1 million to create. That's not a lot of money when you consider the cost of any triple-A summer tentpole blockbuster like Jurassic World — but those films have the full support of a massive studio and a guaranteed movie release across the entire world's cinema screens.
The two brothers shot the film in partnership with Aussie distributor Studio Canal, but the complete picture was produced on a deferred payment basis. That's everyone — director, writers, the entire cast and crew — who are waiting for the film's widespread release and (hopefully) its success until they see any money in their pockets. Dozens of people who are hoping to see their more than 18 months of hard work pay dividends, and to see a reason to keep making movies.
We don't get many inventive films made in Australia that cater to a niche audience — and like The Tunnel, they deserve our attention and respect when they come along. That means supporting the filmmakers and opening your wallets and making Wyrmwood a success, not another reason for movie distributors to decry the ill effects of piracy.
If there was any tiny, miniscule smidgen of a legitimate reason for anyone to pirate Wyrmwood, it would ironically enough be for us Australians — at the moment, there's no legal way to access the film online. Despite its US iTunes release, the movie won't be out here online or in DVD form until April 2. That's a pity, but it is coming. And that means you should wait patiently, because that wait — as annoying and unreasonable as it is — is necessary if you want to support Aussie filmmakers. But people aren't.
Torrenters? PLEASE remember this film was made on 'DEFERRED' which means the actors/crew/me still needs to get paid … pic.twitter.com/fmYc7CUYKi
— Wyrmwood Movie (@wyrmwoodmovie) February 15, 2015
Inside Film has seen Wyrmwood sitting at the most-downloaded list on private torrent tracker site TorrentDay over the weekend, beating out blockbuster titles with years. We already know that Australians are among the most prolific torrenters around the world, so there's almost certainly a fair proportion of downloads coming from our own doorstep. Wyrmwood's clearly popular, and that's a great thing — but this kind of popularity is not the kind that turns into cold hard cash.
The limited screenings that have run across Australia — 85 cinemas had a single screening of the movie, and Moonlight Cinema ran screenings for five sessions — have made just over $120,000 for the production team, but that only goes a very small part of the way to reimbursing the filmmakers and distributor for their time and effort and good faith in the interest of people extending to actually paying money to see the film.
I'm going to be buying a copy — or two or three — of Wyrmwood, because I'm a big fan of zombie movies, and this is what I will do to support them. Smart, funny, well produced and well thought-out passion projects like this don't come along very often, and if you keep pirating them, they won't be around for long. Please — just be patient, wait it out, and support Wyrmwood when it launches on DVD, and online, and in more cinema screens around the country.
And for those people who have already pirated it — maybe you're just showing your interest, and that's a good thing. But all I can say is that if you're one of the (more than a few) people who has pirated Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead, you'd better do the right thing and at least pay for it when it becomes available legally within Australia. You're shooting the Aussie film industry, and independent filmmakers, squarely in the foot if you don't.
Oh, and if you can't wait — sign up to Fan-Force and suggest an impromptu movie screening near you. In Sydney? I'm trying to get one organised, so stay tuned.