Creative Commons experiment turned into festival

On September 5, Medea screened the documentary Hello World! Processing as part of The Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival – a crowdsourced festival where members of the audience become the hosts.

Text: Erling Björgvinsson & Richard Topgaard

We’re very excited about being part of this grassroots film festival, this because we know it would probably not have existed if it hadn’t been for an experiment we did in collaboration with film director Hanna Sköld in 2009. What started as a small indie-film distribution experiment has evolved into several Creative Commons film festivals all over the world.

In 2009, Hanna Sköld had just finalized her first full-length feature film Nasty Old People, but she had been turned down by the distributors. The film risked being left without an audience. By chance, we met her and decided to take on the challenge in a student project. The challenge: to find an audience while bypassing the official film distribution system. Ideas ranged from placing physical DVDs at cafés in the city, to distributing the film through contested and loved/hated file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, a site whose founders had just recently been to trial for copyright infringement. After intense discussions on the pros and cons, a consensus was reached to put the film on The Pirate Bay. But, of course, it needed to be marketed. And what place would be better to use for marketing than the front page of The Pirate Bay itself?

We got hold of a person that had influence of what content that should be featured on the front page, and on Oct 10, the iconic pirate ship was replaced with an image based on visuals from the film. A week later, tens of thousands of people had downloaded and watched the film. Hundreds of mostly positive comments were posted on The Pirate Bay and on Facebook. The English subtitles were translated to 10+ languages. Public screenings of the film were done at arthouse cinemas in several European countries.

We had early on decided that the film should be Creative Commons-licensed to enable legal sharing of the film. It turned out that Nasty Old People became, according to scholar Mathias Klang, the “first Swedish film to be licensed under a Creative Commons license”. It later influenced the founding of the Barcelona Creative Commons Film Festival. A few years later, we have a several Creative Commons film festivals, including a Nordic one; a festival that might evolve into an indie-film distribution network of its own. Things are a-changing in the world of film production and distribution, and we are proud to have been part of it.

Read more about how Nasty Old People might have influenced the film industry in this blog post. A chapter in the MIT Press book Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design and Democracy will also analyze the case.

— ORIGINAL INVITATION TEXT —

We invite you to a lunch screening of the documentary Hello World! Processing, Thursday, September 5, at 12.15-13. This screening is part of The Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival, a crowdsourced festival where members of the audience become the hosts. Bring some pasta and take a seat in our temporary cinema!

Hello World! Processing from Ultra_Lab on Vimeo.

Date and time: Thu, Sep 5, 12.15-13. Doors open at 12.

Location: Medea, Ö. Varvsgatan 11 A

For whom? Anyone, the number of seats are almost unlimited but you can reserve a seat here. The event is free.

About the documentary
Hello World! Processing is a documentary on creative coding that explores the role that ideas such as process, experimentation and algorithm play in this creative field featuring artists, designers and code enthusiasts. Based on a series of interviews to some of the leading figures of the Processing open programming platform community, the documentary is built itself as a continuous stream of archived references, projects and concepts shared by this community. It is the first chapter of a documentary series on three programming languages – Processing, Open Frameworks and Pure data – that have increased the role of coding in the practice of artists, designers and creators around the world. The series explores the creative possibilities expanded by these open source tools and the importance of their growing online communities.

The full list of events can be found on events.nordicfilmfestival.cc. In Malmö, Inkonst, Moriskan and Media Evolution (among others) will host screenings. See the programme in this Facebook event.