The Documentary Download Dilemma

0 Posted by - March 1, 2013 - Conversations, Features, Policy, Screen

Much ink has been spilled and pixels punctuated regarding the ongoing controversial topic around the copyright, downloading, streaming and file sharing of creative content, yet there has been little discussion (outside of organizational listserves and at festival forums) of documentary cinema and file sharing.

This may be in large part due to the fact that public discourse is catching up to a trend that is really less than five years old. Whereas commercial and mainstream fiction cinema has been swapped, downloaded and streamed online since file sharing’s early days, documentary has only recently come into its own online sharing milieu.

I remember doc-makers quietly excited to see websites like documentariesonline.com pop up like fresh tulips in fields of well-trodden, yellowing, commercial-fiction grass. “It’s not directly helping me, but it’s great that documentaries have reached a point where people want to pirate and share them,” went the measured reflection in those early days of doc download dribbles.

Yet some years later that dribble is forming its own alternative torrent and sharing sites have proliferated, not to mention the squeaking in of docs on that corporate compendium of banal and alluring audio-visual culture, YouTube.

Exactly like their more popular fiction cousins, documentaries are increasingly ripped from DVD and Blu-Ray, compressed, uploaded to torrent and video hosting sites and shared faster than you can say ‘an inconvenient truth.’ Some prescient doc-makers saw this coming, and from the get-go played with ‘em instead of against ‘em, such as the makers of The Corporation, who released a by-donation torrent of the film as a parallel option to the “illegal” counterparts.

And while many doc-makers are “glad to get it out there,” as the adage goes, they are also “glad to eat and pay rent.” As someone who knows scores of independent documentary makers who have self-financed their films or gone into debiliating debt during production, I would also add that many are also “Glad to hopefully break even.”

So how do documentary file sharing and streaming sites that do not remunerate the makers fit into this proverbial squeeze between getting it out there and eking out some kind of living in the media arts?

This question has come up recently in a discussion with documentary filmmakers around a new site called Thought Maybe.

I had a chance to discuss the issues with the collective who runs the site, and although some responses are decidedly deflective or evasive (notably: repeating an issue is complex and bigger than us, is not at all addressing our own implication in said issue, or bringing us closer to resolution on divergent views), their quick and lengthy replies to my questions are very thoughtful (no maybe there!) and show a commitment to not only dialogue, but to disseminating art they hope will provoke social change (what kind of change, they do not stipulate, but one can surmise they mean progressive social change).

As a caveat, I am not singling out Thought Maybe and ignoring countless other similar “illegal” documentary streaming and sharing sites out of any vindictive nature. This new site has, as pointed out, been the topic of conversation among some members of the documentary community in Canada because of its jejunity in the salad days of doc downloading, and because the mysterious unnamed collective behind the site identify as working within the social change or activist paradigm.

It is precisely documentary’s unique station in the mediascape—a genre that champions alternative voices, perspectives and narratives to the mainstream corporate industrial cinema complex—that makes it an interesting area for discussion around sharing, connecting, support and agitation, especially when that conversation revolves around a sharing site that positions itself as advocate for both the alternative media arts and for social change animation.

thoughtmaybe

Art Threat: I’m wondering how Thought Maybe acquires permission and/or streaming rights to show the documentaries you show and I’m also wondering how you connect with social justice activist communities, if at all, as you mention on the site that you seek to link the films with activism of some sort.

Thought Maybe Collective: It works ad-hoc in many ways. Film makers can approach us and we support their work and the broader political aims directly; for a recent example, the producers of the Just Do It film who approached us as a good example of how such works inspire direct action, in this context in the UK.

Other times films are made available under Creative Commons, or are in the public domain, and other times films are shared in the context of other movements such as the work of John Pilger in the anti-war movement for example, or others dealing with specific campaigns such as ecological movements or permaculture for instance.

In these circumstances support is implied or inferred — not to say this is a catch-all however, and we recognise that it’s not an ideal system, but neither are the outdated notions of copyright and the IP system–which is an underlying component of our project, and indeed what such authors are trying to support along with us trying to challenge.

Such notions are a part of the broader discussion of our intent and our aims, but at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is help spread the message of these films and indeed other localised works in order to provoke tangible action in movements that people find this project valuable for, all around the world.

The topics and movements are many as you can see on our site and indeed, exposure on our site supports film makers as much as the broader political movements that the films are contextualised in — indeed this being the reasons such people are making such films for in the first place–i.e. to generate awareness, share knowledge, ask questions, challenge, inspire and provoke action.

This is demonstrated by the many film makers who embrace our project, share these goals with us and enjoy the mutual aid that goes all ways and indeed inspires other outcomes, some of which we don’t even know yet.

Even in the circumstances where support may be implied or inferred, fundamentally, we all know that old models aren’t working and indeed a lot needs to change, and this is *the* pressing issue. The specific point of copyrights is an ongoing conversation though, and we acknowledge we don’t have many answers — what we are doing though is just giving this project a go, because as we’ve said, a lot needs to change and this is the pressing issue.

IP is indeed a controversial area and can evoke a lot of strong responses for some, so to be clear, we’re not out to impose anything on film makers — on the very rare occasion that film makers don’t want their films seen or cannot share for other reasons, or don’t/can’t support the aims of this project, etc, then fair enough, we’ll take the films down, though not without disappointment on many levels.

Overall, the fundamental premise in which information is presented on Thought Maybe is to inspire, inform and provoke action. We don’t run ads, we don’t make a claim of ownership, we don’t profit or make money. This sets us apart from other sites and we’re clear about all this–that the project is a labour of love, and it’s for a much bigger purpose. We’re broadly supported on these aims, as well as helping to inspire the much-needed political action on problems which compound by the day, where we can…

As for who is behind the site, we’re a small group of film makers, artists and media activists from around the world. We understand the complexity of this conversation during strenuous times. What we are doing though is trying to challenge such notions.

Just-Do-It-A-Tale-of-Modern-day-Outlaws-2011We’ve dedicated our lives at great sacrifice to enacting change on issues that affect our ways of making a living and indeed we struggle for this project (and many others) to keep them alive in such challenging times–and we know that others do too, including all the film makers that support these aims, as well as the broader political movements that reciprocate mutual aid.

We’re all working on these things together. One such thing we collectively recognise is the need to get creative with alternative ways to fund our own projects and we’re not just talking about Thought Maybe here too. It’s strenuous times for all and always has been for artists. We know, we’re artists too! That’s why the discussion of IP is an interesting one, even if we disagree.

But rather than cling to old notions and failed economic models by navigating through their remains, we’re trying to go beyond and institute some real change from the ground up. This is why we’re embracing the opportunities of technology, to get pertinent information out there in the vast noise of screen culture with some amount of clarity and simplicity, by doing it differently — and this is why we’re in-part challenging outdated notions of economics, copyright, and IP; this is why we embrace Creative Commons; this is why we do not support corporate media channels such as YouTube; this is why we do not run any advertising; this is why we don’t rely on government or corporate funding, etc etc etc.

We’re trying to do it all differently, and these are some reasons among many. This project is a massive undertaking and we acknowledge that, and indeed as we’ve said, we know things aren’t perfect but neither are the current systems. We’ve all got a lot of work to do, which is why we’re challenging these hard areas with the bigger picture in mind–what’s more important at the end of the day?

Ok, but it’s still not clear how you obtain permission from filmmakers who do not submit their films or approach you, or whose work is not under Creative Commons share alike licensing. While I agree that old economic models are outmoded and dysfunctional, and I applaud efforts to share work and to challenge capitalism with mutual aid and collaboration schemes, I’m wondering if you can respond to two nagging issues.

The first is that copyright was initially created to protect artists, not large corporations, and as such artists can use copyright to their benefit, by controlling the ways in which their works are used, consumed and experienced, and crucially, can maybe even get paid in the process.

We agree. Yes, copyrights were instigated to protect artists and foster creativity, the point of departure though is that this is largely no longer the case.

Copyright is now used overwhelmingly to protect large corporations and is also overwhelmingly used for censorship–indeed as you say “controlling the ways in which works are used, consumed and experienced”. This is the fundamental difference, as we believe in freedom-of-information — not to say at the detriment or against the wishes of content creators however, but simply that such pertinent information should be made available to everyone, where possible, as much as possible, especially considering the larger issues at hand (i.e. ecological crisis, economic collapse, impacts of globalisation, etc, etc). This is what we mean by: “what’s more important at the end of the day?”

And no, we’re not talking about clicking the stupid ‘Like’ button on Facebook, signing online petitions or letter writing – we mean informing and inspiring real world action.

On a basic level though, this whole discussion is well outside the confines of Thought Maybe. One only needs to take a glimpse at the events in the IP industry in this context which have failed — digital rights management, copy protection, etc. We’re not commenting on this specifically, but the point we’re trying to make is that old economic models are outmoded and dysfunctional as you say, and so we’re setting out to embrace the change. Many film makers these days realise the need to get creative to fund their projects in other ways, and with us being artists ourselves, we’re going about doing that, while getting pertinent work out there…

Which leads to the second issue — Thought Maybe, like many projects of this kind, seems to operate on the assumption that documentary filmmakers just “want to get their work out there” and that filmmakers will be pleased just to have their work shared, downloaded, streamed, etc.

While this may be true of some filmmakers, I can tell you from experience in the industry and community that most documentary filmmakers do it for love AND to put food on their tables and clothes on their children. If documentaries were made in order to be shared freely, how would filmmakers earn a living?

Surely the assumption that film makers want their films to be seen is reasonable. Again, the controversy only comes when discussing the outdated notions of copyright and the related failed economic models.

We agree on the point that most film makers do it for love–our work is a labour of love too. Again, this is an issue much larger than TM [Thought Maybe]–indeed, how to make a living off your art in an astringent, pervasive capitalist system?

This is a massive question and is indeed outside the scope of TM. But as we said before, there are many film makers that realise this and have gone about ways to fund their projects in different ways and support us also.

We all recognise the need to get creative and challenge old paradigms–our livelihoods depend on them. As we said above, we’re also speaking from experience here–we’re struggling artists trying to make ends meet too. We work day jobs and struggle for our art, while coupling our political aspirations with the struggle.

Alternative economic models that pay filmmakers for their work such as Cinema Politica (of which I’m a co-founder ) and Good Screenings and others are departures from older economic schemes but aren’t forgetting about the filmmakers in the process. While I am essentially anti-capitalist, I do acknowledge that currently we all need to earn a living somehow. So I’m wondering how Thought Maybe fits into this?

We’re not forgetting about film makers either, we contend that we’re supporting them in many ways, as we’ve said. On the specific point of financing though, we’re aware of your work with Cinema Politica — it’s good work and valued. Indeed the stated aims are quite similar to TM. It says on the about page that “[CP] believe[s] in the power of art to not only entertain but to engage, inform, inspire, and provoke social change.” These are things we obviously hold in common and it’s great to see such interesting departures as you say.

On this specific point of financing though, we do know from direct experience from some film makers that also support Thought Maybe and have also worked with CP, that CP didn’t pay them nearly enough to sustain them as film makers.

This is not to say that TM is any better or worse however — the point we’re making is that, again, this entire discussion–i.e. making a living off your art inside a capitalist system–is much bigger than both of our projects.

Say for example, if TM had government or corporate funding like CP has, sure, we could potentially pay film makers a trickle of funds also. One reason we don’t accept gov/corp funding though is that we feel it its an unwanted force when dealing to challenge political institutions/challenge those structures, etc — this is to say that vetoing and censorship is common in our experience, or indeed other bureaucratic issues get in the way of simply publishing good work.

We obviously reject these things — not in disrespect of film makers, but because we believe there are bigger issues to challenge and that fundamentally, such pertinent work needs to be out there for everyone to access. As we say, we know many film makers are keen on this too, which is why they approach us. Again, we’re not forgetting about film makers either. We perhaps just see the issues differently and have different priorities.

Image from: http://culturalpolicyreform.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/illegal-downloading-in-australia/

Image from: http://culturalpolicyreform.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/illegal-downloading-in-australia/

 

To clarify for Thought Maybe members and our readers, Cinema Politica does not accept ANY support from corporations and our government support is specifically from arts councils in Canada and Quebec that is earmarked for the dissemination of independent media artworks by artists in Canada and Quebec. Arts Councils in Canada are quite famously set up at arms length to government and we have never experienced and tampering in our operations, even when our films go against government policy.

While it may be great for CP to make use of such arrangements, we’re not CP and we’re not in Canada or Quebec unfortunately, and even then we have different experience when dealing with such funding, as we’ve said.

As a further explanation, Cinema Politica’s financial structure has been developed from the union model — we collect small membership fees from all our participating screening locals and this provides us with a small operating budget – hardly the picture painted above.

This small budget allows us to have an office, pay some contract and honorarium fees to artists, programmers, designers and organizers. That said, we are principally a volunteer-run organization. Yet having been doing this long enough, we know that being exclusively volunteer-based is difficult to sustain, no matter what the project or the passion.

Again, our situation differs from CP obviously, so we have to make do with the best of that situation. We’re a small group of people, we have no office, no budget, no funding–we’re entirely on our own.

And also, like we say, we know it’s not perfect, but neither are many other projects, and yes, all of this is difficult to sustain, regardless–even as we’re all volunteers too. We don’t get paid.

Fundamentally though, this is the larger point we’re trying to make — most of this conversation to do with financing is outside the realm of Thought Maybe, CP and others–combined.

But we’re all working together — we recognise the value in such projects, it’s all good work, as we said. We hope support is reciprocated. In any event, the issues are complex and broad, but are also part of the bigger challenges and work we want to support, as well as work we’re setting out to do–not only as individuals but as a project too.

Lastly, in terms of paying licensing for the films Cinema Politica screens and that not being enough to sustain the artists, we’re not surprised to hear this. There is not a single option for documentaries that sustains the artists, that’s the whole point of this exchange!
To wit: the more organizations, collectives, projects, groups, etc that pay what they can the more that adds up for a documentary filmmaker and may help to actually sustain them.

Yes, this is true. The more support the better–it’s all needed and valuable. We provide what support we can, where we can, as much as possible and in different ways.

Surely not paying ANYTHING can’t be seen as a better model!

We did not say that not paying anything was a better model. We said: “This is not to say that TM is any better or worse however — the point we’re making is that, again, this entire discussion–i.e. making a living off your art inside a capitalist system–is much bigger than both of our projects.” And indeed it is, as illustrated.

When Cinema Politica and other documentary initiatives pay $150, $250, $500 and more to screen a film, this can and does add up.

It sure can, and indeed we hope our small contributions can help as much as possible too. Again, as we said, if we received funding, we could potentially directly support film makers with a trickle of funds also.

But again, for now, we’re helping in different ways. People we work with donate to film makers when/where possible and help out in other ways such as labour exchanges (say, doing translations for example), others purchase DVDs, pay for screenings, etc, etc — it does all add up.

If a film is screened for free and made available on line for free, ins’t there (a) less incentive for groups to actually pay or have structures to pay when others aren’t; and (b) less incentive for audiences to pay (even if it is by-donation)?

So the question becomes: how does it benefit them by not being on Thought Maybe?

A combination of free and pay-what-can and commercial initiatives may be the perfect storm, but it seems that for documentary at least, the free online streaming is starting to displace and supplant other pay models, which when we’re talking about sustaining artists, is understandably worrisome for those artists working (like yourselves, but those who perhaps do not have supplemental day jobs).

In our experience, there’s much more to it than simply “free=loss of $ and incentives”. Even as TM being a very young project, we’ve had direct experience on the contrary — many viewers have sent us emails over the past year asking where they can purchase old films or get in contact with a film maker to do screenings (especially films that have been revived from VHS), and we’re sure that energy and enthusiasm carries over in other ways such as word of mouth promotion, direct interfacing with grass-roots movements and others that can provide financial support, direct financial support by donations, etc etc.

We’ve had direct experience with this on our own works, separate from TM too, so we’ll have to disagree on this one. None of this is clear cut though, and rather than get off-topic, we’ll say again that underlying this entire conversation–we recognise the need to get creative with funding our stuff in different ways, regardless of what’s going on, as we’ve said.

If you have films on your site that filmmakers have not given permission to stream and they are not getting paid, how does it benefit them? Shouldn’t Thought Maybe only concentrate on works where permission is granted or a CC license is in place?

We contend that exposure on our site, however big or small is helpful to film makers in many ways, even ways that are still coming about, as we’ve said. But again, fundamentally, the issues you raise are much larger than both our projects combined, or indeed a specific focus on film makers in any case.

These issues are effecting everyone. But to take your specific point, we’ll illustrate it by turning it around — that is to say that of all the very few requests to remove content since the site began–in every case the films have been available in their entirety elsewhere on the web such as YouTube, and indeed most still remain available even after we’ve respectfully removed content from our site.

So the question becomes: how does it benefit them by not being on Thought Maybe?

For instance, two case-in-point recent examples of fantastic films sadly removed under the premise of harming revenues were: A Place Called Chiapas and Manufacturing Landscapes.

We respectfully complied with the requests to remove these films, despite the fact that the films are still readily available to this day elsewhere on the web, and one would assume this is also against the wishes of the film makers if they were serious about enforcing their copyrights. Indeed, it does beg the question — so we’ve even kindly asked them about this but have not received any replies.

Perhaps it’s because the point doesn’t hold that TM is impacting the failed revenue streams of copyright and IP when many other sites on the web are still showing the same films.

Further, one could argue that sites like YouTube and others are actually harming by profiting off film makers with ad revenues. In any event, the issue is perplexing, and again, is much bigger than our project. We’re not out to harm film makers, and there’s much respect there. For instance, to illustrate the point using the example with the great films above that were sadly removed, we could’ve just linked to them on YouTube and elsewhere to continue sharing them contrary to the wishes of the film makers — but the point is we didn’t however.

If film makers don’t want their films seen on Thought Maybe, regardless of where they are elsewhere, then so be it, though not without disappointment. The question still remains though, what’s the benefit of doing so?

This philosophy puts the onus on the filmmakers, and not those disseminating their work without permission.

As one filmmaker has told me, and I believe this represents many documentary makers’ contention with the situation of free online docs: “It’s great that they’ve put it on line for more people to see but it’s not cool they don’t even bother contacting me—and I imagine other filmmakers—about putting my work up on line. Further, why don’t they try to directly support filmmakers, instead of their films, by having a “support this artist” link or button on each film?”

Are you referring to a film maker that is talking about their works on TM? If so, we haven’t heard these specific comments and in such a case, it would be good to hear from them directly with such questions or concerns. To answer the question though, we do provide support to film makers in asking for donations and showing links to their site where they want this in their content or to provide a link on the site.

For example, the notice of how/where to make donations on David Miller’s In Guantanamo — http://thoughtmaybe.com/in-guantanamo/; the use of a watermark with a web address (such as Rise of The Machines — http://thoughtmaybe.com/rise-of-the-machines/); or we add links to sites to enable donations (for example, films by Scott Noble like http://thoughtmaybe.com/human-resources/ for instance). These are examples among many.

I can tell you from talking to filmmakers that they don’t just go after Thought Maybe when requesting removal of their material, they request it from every site – - I just think that you guys respond much faster (which is a good thing on your part).

In any event, we contend that Thought Maybe is beneficial to film makers in many ways, as indeed many approach us, love to work with us on these points, share our aims and the enjoy mutual aid and reciprocated support.

We know the issue is complex though, and so the bigger point we’re trying to make here is that such arguments against Thought Maybe are misdirected. Again, we’re not out to harm film makers, we’re approachable and respectful even where we may disagree.

Similarly, as with the above, if Thought Maybe was only to focus on CC, there would be a loss of pertinent content to the same effect. Indeed, having said this, many films on our site are CC or are distributed with larger intent such as the work of Adam Curtis for instance.

Again, at the end of the day, what’s more important? If film makers don’t want to/can’t support this project, it’s up to them and we’ll respect that, though again, not without disappointment.

Doesn’t the collective agree that if we don’t support the artists doing the work—support their actual labour with sustenance—then there won’t be nearly as many great documentaries being made?

Well, yes and no. We think it would be fair to say that great docos will be made regardless and the evidence of this is abound as film makers turn to alternative ways to fund their projects and to continue to make a living during strenuous, changing times.

The point may be true if all film makers were still clinging to the failed notions of copyright, but this isn’t the case. There is overwhelming support to embrace the notions of TM and indeed other projects to collectively work to break paradigms on issues that effect all our ways of living–and again, we’re not just talking about film makers here — this means all of us.

But back to the point of financing film makers specifically, it’s an ongoing conversation, and one that is much larger than TM, CP and others, as we’ve said.

You say that Thought Maybe is new and unique, but I’m wondering how it differs from many other online documentary viewing sites, such as topdocumentaryfilms.com?

Many differences, but notably — No YouTube. No ads. No social media nonsense. A focus on content pertaining to social and political issues, not just anything and everything that’s remotely a ‘doc’ on YouTube or Vimeo, etc. As we say on our about page “There’s already a lot of information on the Internet, so our goal is to cut through the noise and garbage, to present valuable information in a clear way, so it’s accessible, useful and easily digested…”

Speaking of features, one thing to add here is that it might also be an act of good faith (and helpful to both filmmakers and your viewers) to include information on the films, other than synopses — such as director, year, country, link to the actual filmmaker’s or producer’s site, etc. Is there a reason you don’t include this info?

We do provide credit to director/writers, as well as date/country/link for some films where available/possible/relevant/etc. Bringing consistency is something we’ve been working on over the last 5 months.

One of the defining characteristics of alternative and activist media is accountability and transparency — unlike corporate and mainstream counterparts, alt/activist media tend to be upfront about structure, funding, who is behind the organization, etc.

Yet Thought Maybe doesn’t reveal any of this information and rather keeps it quite a mystery, which is highly unusual for a project positioning itself with activist efforts and social movements, especially one that is soliciting donations. Is there a reason for this secrecy? And if there isn’t, can you tell me who is on the collective?

We’re not an organisation. We have no structure, funding, etc. We’re clear about this and other such aims on our site. There’s no secrecy, there’s no mystery — we’re clear on our site that it’s not a project about us (see about page).

The people working on this project are not important — it’s the content and responses that are important. So why make a fuss about who we are? As for donations we’re clear about what these are for and where donations go, there’s no obscurity.

I have to follow up here because I don’t think my initial question was understood. Regardless of how you identify yourselves—organization, initiative, collective—the point is that groups that (a) position themselves as operating within an activist and social change milieu and (b) ask for donations, usually maintain some level of transparency, especially if they want to work with artists and activists.

What we know of of Thought Maybe is that it is a collective of artists with someone named Louisa in the group [the signatory of response emails from TM].

I’m not asking for you to shift the focus to the individuals behind the project, and by listing the names of members of the collective I don’t think this would shift the focus from the films, but would rather lend legitimacy and transparency to the project.

The people working on this project are not important — it’s the content and responses that are important. So why make a fuss about who we are?

It’s not a fuss really, it’s a very base request for letting us know who you are. If there is a reason to not be forthcoming, then that’s another story, but so far there isn’t one that I can see.

With all due respect, we’ve clearly stated that this project is not about us and we stand by that. Further, we contend that there is transparency and accountability — as demonstrated by our actions and what we clearly state on our site — whether this is in regards to the way we run it or why, or in the specific case of donations–we’re clear about what these are for.

Lastly, it is still not clear to me how you are connecting audiences to activism or civil society groups or social movements. The films raise issues and awareness, but how do you direct your viewers to specific project or processes to get involved (unless I’m missing this on the site?).

For instance, at cinemapolitica.org we have “Take Action” links, such as here: http://www.cinemapolitica.org/film/status-quo-unfinished-business-feminism-canada,or at Good Screenings, such as here: http://www.goodscreenings.org/MDG/. Does Thought Maybe work with any activist organizations?

It should be obvious that the films do this as well as the framing of the site overall. And as we say on the site, we’re not collectively pedalling any specific responses. From our about page: “We’ve fundamentally built this resource to inform and inspire action — and no, we’re not talking about clicking the stupid ‘Like’ button on Facebook, signing online petitions or letter writing — we mean informing and inspiring real-world action; taking this information away from the computer to rejuvenate the strong networks with the people around you in the real world, to discuss, plan, act.

This is not a symbolic action or clicktivism website, nor is it a simple collection of popular content, like the other websites available. It’s a resource that aims to inform, inspire and provoke action; to generate a multitude of responses and reactions.

This is just some of what is needed to break paradigms, subservience, acquiescence, and to cultivate inspiration to continue work on the plethora of puzzles and problems addressed in the information published here.”

Directly pointing viewers to specific actions in a top-down way like other websites is precisely what we’re trying not to do. It’s about viewers being inspired and empowered to form their own actions. As we say, to “rejuvenate the strong networks with the people around [them] in the real world, to discuss, plan, act.” Again, this is one of the many reasons we don’t have catch-all “Take Action” links, etc.

We assist in supporting movements and vast arrays of political actions. As above, if you’re after specifics, you’re missing the point — we’re not about propping up specific structures for change, or instructing viewers on exactly what they should do, top-down.

We’re trying to break out of these confines. Again, it’s about viewers being empowered to form their own actions, and indeed to inspire a diversity of tactics, methods, responses and reactions.

As we say, “This is just some of what is needed to break paradigms, subservience, acquiescence, and to cultivate inspiration to continue work on the plethora of puzzles and problems addressed in the information published here.”

We’re not sure if we can get any more clearer than this. But to appease with a specific example, it could be the one we mentioned initially — working with producers of Just Do It film and those direct-action movements happening in the UK.

There are also similar examples we could point to in Canada with work against the Tar Sands, or in Australia with anti-uranium mining movements, permaculture groups, etc — all where work on TM has had a tangible impact.

* * * *

What do you think? Are documentaries like books, where Corey Doctorow has fiercely proven that free downloads will not necessarily inhibit commercial sales, but in fact may help in remuneration?

Or are documentaries an already beleaguered alternative media, limping along with no to little structural or dissemination support, and therefore in need of less Thought Maybe projects and more pay schemes?

Or is there a third option? A combination? A new paradigm?

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