Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘film’

05 JUNE, 2009

RiP: A Remix Manifesto


Why you’re an outlaw just by reading this, or how the era we live in will change creative culture forever.

It’s no secret we’re big proponents of remix culture around here — and strongly believe that the cross-pollination of ideas, the fundamental backbone of creativity, should be celebrated rather than hindered by copyright law. Which is why we love RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a documentary about copyright and remix culture.

Filmmaker Brett Gaylor, of Opensource Cinema fame, digs deep into the flaws of copyright in the information age, exploring the ever-murkier line between content consumers and producers.

The film echoes the excellent REMIX panel from a couple of months ago, featuring CreativeCommons founder Lawrence Lessig and the now-iconic Shepard Fairey. Not coincidentally, Lessig is a key player here as well, along with Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and BoingBoing’s own pop culture critic, Cory Doctorow.

RiP deals with the absurdities of copyright law — did you know, for example, that you have to pay royalties every time you sing Happy Birthday in a theater, restaurant or any other public space? Worst part: You wouldn’t even be paying to the two sisters who wrote the song — they’re long dead — but to Warner/Chappell, the world’s largest corporate music publisher.

RiP isn’t merely a documentation of the changes taking place, it’s a proposition — a manifesto, actually — for a new view of intellectual property that inspires, not obstructs, creativity.

In true walk-the-walk manner, the filmmaker has made all the footage available on Opensource Cinema, free for anyone to remix, while the film’s soundtrack is an open call for fan submissions. And for the ultimate new media cherry-on-top, if you live in the U.S., you can download the film under a pay-what-you-want model. (Remember how much we love those?)

Ironically, the very act of putting this documentary together is illegal by current copyright legislature — Gaylor’s use of samples by remix artists, whose work is in and of itself illegal, also violates the law. Doing it the legal way — getting clearance by paying royalties to the hundreds of copyright owners, most of whom aren’t even the original creators but mere media holding companies who bought the rights over the content — would’ve cost well over $4 million, making RiP the most expensive documentary ever produced.

And if that’s not a brilliant allegory for the fundamental brokenness of copyright law, we don’t know what is.

You can follow Brett on Twitter and support the project on Facebook.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing better to do than just watching the film (or grabbing it on a perfectly legal DVD) and really relishing this incredible new era of media that is unfolding around us.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

04 MAY, 2009

Collaborative Cinema: The Hunt for Gollum


The new age of cinema has officially arrived.

These days, there seems to be an ongoing cultural contention that anyone, armed with a cheap little digital camcorder, can make a movie. Being filmmakers ourselves, we have received it with a healthy dose of skepticism.

But a group of Lord of The Rings fans and enthusiast filmmakers showed us that anyone can indeed make a Hollywood-like movie in their backyard.

Well, sort of.

The Hunt for Gollum is an unofficial, collaborative prequel to the Peter Jackson trilogy. Directed by Chris Bouchard, the film is completely independent — meaning it was produced solely by the fans, and no one got paid. In Bouchard’s words,

We made this purely for the enjoyment of the material and the experience of making a high quality low budget film.

And don’t let this “experiment in low-budget filmmaking” fool you, because watching the trailer makes it very, very hard to believe it isn’t an authentic Peter Jackson prequel to the trilogy.

Then there’s this admittedly hilarious teaser.

The Hunt for Gollum premiered yesterday. The best part: Besides innovating on this new culture of collaboration, the film is also distributed for free online, where you can watch it in HD.

And we think that’s the freeconomic future of the entertainment industry.

23 APRIL, 2009

Film Spotlight: Paper Heart


Decheesing love, or how Michael Cera went from cameo to Romeo in a never-signed-up-for-it way.

The only thing cheesier than the subject of love itself is a film about love. Unless its about love. Which is why we love Sundance gem Paper Heart — a wonderful documentary about Charlyne Yi, a girl who neither understands love nor believes in the very possibility of it.

Cherlyne embarks on a journey to dissect the nature of love, traveling the country and interviewing people — little kids in “puppy love,” couples who grew old and grey together, Vegas-wedders — to hear their stories about the ever-elusive subject.

And then comes the wildcard — Charlyne meets actor Michael Cera (of Arrested Development and Juno fame, among others) in order to interview him.

But the two grow increasingly fascinated with one another and something begins to boil between them, something that may just be, oh, who knows, love? Suddenly, the film director realizes that Charlyne and Michael’s relationship has taken a life of its own and has now become part of the documentary, which turns into a wonderful piece of anthropological field study of love in the very moment when it crystallizes. (HD trailer here.)

What we love most about Paper Heart is that it remains exactly what it set out to be — a real documentary — yet it’s about the very subject of all the world’s sappy fiction, exposing it in a refreshing new light that strips it of all the Hollywood glam and romantic scene music scores, leaving nothing but the raw and vulnerable human emotion in the heart of this universal phenomenon.