2004, Western Germany: Route 66I've been talking to that arrogant chic for some time now, she must be some kind of low level representative of this major label. And she is basically telling me that we are not allowed to have any music from any major label in our movie, not even in the distant background from a TV set at McDonald's, a passing car in the traffic jam, an out of sight gas station radio or whatever it is that plays their crap. We could, theoretically, go through the process of licensing it, but practically it's too costly in every way.
In other words: this young girl is telling me that I better not plan on proclaiming my beliefs in a public space on camera from now on, because they certainly won't stop sending out copyrighted material on TV and radio to the public - turning everyone within range of their mass media emission into a Read/Listen/Watch-Only person.
Meanwhile Tom is speaking to the GEMA, the major German performance rights organization almost every professional off-line artist has joined. Their mission is to "shape the cultural and commercial identity of musical life and [to] build bridges between the authors, the music industry and the general public". Tom was told to pay for every download of his own song from his own website. He would get about 80% back; GEMA and the most popular mainstream-media-artists would get the other 20%. What is this - a joke?
They basically forbid their members to put their music on-line and call it "shaping the culture". Their mission should read "Welcome back to the 20th century. We are leaders in the market of locking your stuff down!"
That was my first contact with the off-line entertainment industry and it would not get much better.
We decided to dub every single second of "Route 66" in which the Madonnas and Mobys are contaminating our audio track. Tom quit the GEMA membership and thus turned his back on all potential radio and television revenues from his former and future works, to allow "Route 66" to be released to the Internet as a free cultural work under a Creative Commons License.
Christmas 2004, Leipzig / Eastern GermanyA TV station offered $50.000, but they also demanded the lock down of all footage. No sharing, no remixing by the public - even though this TV station is a public broadcaster, financed by public funds. We started a few guerrilla marketing events and thought of the movie as an Internet insider tip.
The next day Heise and other major sites posted the news of our movie release. My sister reads about it in the subway in the north of the country, Toms Mom hears it on the radio in the west and an old school buddy calls from the east, to ask for a job in our next movie.
Half a year later we are counting 1 million downloads and the movie is out on 600.000 DVDs.
Thanks to newthinking we are introduced to the German Free Culture scene and we realize that our release was relevant in the history of free Internet culture. It doesn't pay $50.000, but it creates the motivation to start our next movie project.
2005, Leipzig: The Last DrugI'm almost dropping out of the car at 50 mph on the corner of the opera house, as the door electronics of his BMW are failing. Tommi, the driver, is our new sponsor. He gave us enough money to get The Drug started. He is also buying a license to publish the soundtrack of "Route 66" on his magazine and the GEMA is looking pretty stupid right now, since they didn't do anything to "shape the cultural and commercial identity" of Tom over the last decade, but the Internet did it within a few weeks.
Two month later, at the set of "The Last Drug": Tom is managing the audio recording almost single handedly. Everybody is at his limit. Is this the rain rumbling on the roof of our studio? Is somebody saving on the gas quality of our current generator? Is there a goose hunting going on in front of our studio doors?
That's guerrilla film making, the way you get yourself into three years of post production, but still getting a high budget look with a crew of 5, $30.000 in cash and a few credit cards.
2008, SummerWhile I'm joining an orthodox monk and a manic surgeon on a trip through Russia on the supermoto bike of my wife, Tom is going for the final spurt of the sound design of The Last Drug.
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