The Man from Earth, a low budget sci-fi drama recently released on BluRay that won awards for Best Feature and Best Screenplay in the Rhode Island International Film Festival have been involved in an interesting and accidental promotional strategy: Piracy. After the movies’ release in 2007, a DVD Screener, which is a distribution method for Film Critics to view movies early, was distributed illegally on the internet by a group of people who specialize in getting their hands on early releases. Shortly after that, and in just two weeks time, the movies’ IMDB ranking jumped from below the 11,000 mark to the 5th most popular movie, and number 1 in both independent and science fiction films. An email was sent out from the producers indicating that this one event put their movie on the map, a movie that had zero marketing budget. The email, which was sent to RLSLOG.net, the site responsible for informing the internet of the DVD leak, can be read below.
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Eric D. Wilkinson and I am the producer of a small independent film called “Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth”.
I am sending you this email after realizing that our website has had nearly 23,000 hits in the last 12 days, much of it coming from your website. In addition, our trailer, both on the www.manfromearth.com site and other sites like YouTube, MySpace and AOL has been watched nearly 20,000 times AND what’s most impressive is our ranking on IMDb went from being the 11,235th most popular movie, to the 5th most popular movie in 2 weeks (we are also the #1 independent film on IMDb & the #1 science fiction film on IMDb). How did this all happen? Two words: Torrent / File Sharing sites (well, four words and a slash).
More specifically, RLSLOG.net. Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download. After that happened, people were watching it and started posting mostly all positive reviews on IMDb, Amazon and other places. Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded “The Man From Earth” has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!
Am I upset… surprisingly no. Thanks to everyone who has downloaded this torrrent and watched the film, our awareness level is through the roof. For that I say, “THANK YOU”!
What you guys have done here is nothing short of amazing. In the future, I will not complain about file sharing. YOU HAVE HELPED PUT THIS LITTLE MOVIE ON THE MAP!!!! When I make my next picture, I just may upload the movie on the net myself!
Given the success of word-of-mouth marking on the internet, perhaps low budget films should consider internet distribution as a legitimate avenue. Large downloads are no longer a problem for most users, and online rentals are getting more and more common, and are a way to monetize a film without the high costs of DVD and BluRay production. With reputable sites like Hulu.com, streaming may also be an option in the future.