An alert reader sent me an email today informing me that Fat Head was on YouTube – again. I believe that’s somewhere around a dozen times I’ve had to notify YouTube to take it down. I run searches for it now and then, but somehow missed this one. It had been online since May.
If anyone reading this has uploaded Fat Head or is considering it, let me point out a couple of things:
First off, it isn’t your film. It’s mine. Uploading it so others can watch it for free is stealing my work, period. I realize some of the younger folks out there have grown up believing it’s somehow okay to share anything digital with a few thousand of your closest friends, but it isn’t. It’s theft, pure and simple.
The latest bozo to upload the film even put FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY in the description. As opposed to what, bozo? Commercial purposes? Naw, you wouldn’t want anyone to use my work for commercial purposes… that would be stealing. Idiot.
Secondly, despite what some goofballs commenting in cyberspace believe, I didn’t receive funding from McDonald’s or anyone else. I worked long hours as a programmer and financed the film myself. By the time I paid for post production, animations, music, news footage, insurance, digital masters, etc., I had invested more than $100,000 in this project. A good chunk of that was borrowed, and I carried the debt with interest for two years — not exactly what I had expected, since we had two distributors waving optimistic sales figures in front us when I signed with them.
As some of you may know from reading the comments, our original DVD distributor went bankrupt last year and never paid us what they owed. It was rather a lot. For some reason, the accounting department continued sending us quarterly reports until the company went belly-up. Very nice of them … when you screw over an independent filmmaker, you want to put an exact dollar figure on it.
The money they collected was supposed to go in account with my name on it, but obviously they used the proceeds from Fat Head (their top seller) to fund their day-to-day operations while they were mismanaging themselves into failure. Apparently they thought they’d catch up at some point, but never did. I appreciate all of you who bought copies from Amazon and other vendors when the film came out, but we never saw a dime from those sales.
Meanwhile, our international (ahem) distributor has turned out to be a den of thieves. Despite the many TV airings overseas early on, they kept claiming large and mysterious losses on their reports. Oddly, those supposed losses increased by $24,000 last year, despite no new sales and no apparent effort on their part to make any sales. I guess they must be paying horrendous rent somewhere to store a half-dozen digital master tapes.
For reasons I can’t figure out, they refuse to relinquish the rights. Given the supposed large and growing losses, you’d think they’d want to dump the film before it sinks the whole company, but nope … they won’t let it go. They’ve also refused to send me an accounting of what expenditures produced the mysterious losses. They’re in Canada, I’m in the U.S., and (as I found out after spending $7,000 in legal fees) there’s pretty much nothing I can do to them unless I want to pony up another $25,000 or more to sue them in Canada.
(Perhaps someday I’ll post a couple of emails I exchanged with the den of thieves to elaborate. When we were still engaged in legal maneuvers, my attorney said that would be a very bad idea. Now I don’t much give a @#$%.)
Get the picture? I produced a popular film, financed it myself, worked ungodly hours to finish it, and then two distributors used it to either fund their failing enterprises or line their own pockets while claiming bogus losses. That’s why we started selling our own DVD version through the blog. Our first DVD sale through the blog was also our first income from the film. We never saw a check from a distributor until Gravitas (an honest distributor) released Fat Head on Hulu and Netflix.
The last thing I need after paying interest on much of the production cost for two years is for a bunch of bozos to give Fat Head away for free online. If you want to see the film, buy a DVD or watch it on Hulu. If you think other people will benefit from watching it, buy DVDs for them.
If you upload my film, you’re not stealing from some millionaire producer. If I’d made a million dollars on the film, I wouldn’t still be working as a programmer. And frankly, even if I had made a million dollars on Fat Head, point number one would still apply: it isn’t yours. Don’t be a thief.