It’s always suspicious when you see Blu-rays packaged together, or even worse, multiple films stuffed onto a single disc. It’s usually a store or film distributor saying, “We can’t get rid of these by themselves, but maybe we can trick people with sheer quantity.” So far, it’s been a practice that’s remained offline—when you buy films digitally on Amazon, you do it one at a time—but BitTorrent Bundle and and FilmBuff are teaming up to change that with an assortment of documentaries packaged via paygate torrent files. From a post on BitTorrent Blog:
FilmBuff is dedicated to distributing the world’s best independent films and documentaries: bridging the gap between passionate creators and fans; ensuring that original voices find audiences. FilmBuff’s Bundle collection puts a lens on filmmaking’s most compelling storytellers, from punk documentarians to Internet activists. Each series Bundle is available for $15 (US only), and contains four documentaries highlighting a specific issue: from gaming and songcraft to digital rights and the American experience. Discover new films, and support creators directly.
While the practice may have dubious results in the physical realm—where you often get either bad films on multiple discs, or multiple decent films with poor transfers on a single disc—the concept of a downloadable film series makes a lot of sense. One of the upsides to digital distribution is the huge amount of opportunities it offers for filmmakers to be heard, but that can also make it easy for good work to get lost in the shuffle and go unnoticed.
As long as they’re expertly curated, digital film series have the same potential as those in theaters: They can get some great films noticed, especially when they’re presented by a respectable source. With documentaries like Exit Through the Gift Shop and The Internet’s Own Boy in its catalog, FilmBuff easily qualifies as respectable.
For BitTorrent, it’s another step in a journey to make torrent technology a legitimate distribution platform. While pirates may have been the first to utilize torrents on a mass scale, BitTorrent Bundle proved the tech could bring significant financial gains to artists when its first paygated project—Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes—was downloaded by 4.4 million users. Earlier this month, it announced the service’s first feature film—David Cross‘s directorial debut, Hits—would launch on Feb. 13. And while these events showed that Bundle could distribute like everybody else, the foray into offering packaged films is a first look into what it can do differently, and that’s exciting territory to venture into. If BitTorrent Bundle continues to partner with big names, it could be a sizable distribution force by the end of 2015.
The 16 films in the series haven’t been named yet, but, with the service hitting BitTorrent Bundles on Feb. 2, we can probably expect to find which of FilmBuff’s documentaries will be offered fairly soon.