The Tunnel: Digging for Dollars

21 June, 2010 by IF

By Morgan Hind

Low-budget filmmakers are increasingly using the internet as a means of raising finance as audience appetite for digital content continues to grow.


The filmmakers behind Australian horror movie The Tunnel are currently selling individual frames of their soon-to-be-released BitTorrent film at $1 per frame, while one investor has the chance to pick up 1 per cent of any profit the film generates.

The Tunnel aims to raise its $135,000 cash budget by selling its 135,000 frames – the equivalent of a 90-minute movie. The project has already sold more than 6100 frames to buyers in the US, UK, Canada and all over the world.

The project aims to turn internet piracy on its head and, rather than waste money fighting illegal downloads, instead embrace the possibilities the internet offers.

“Piracy is such a huge topic within the film industry and it’s one that’s going to continue to affect the future of the entire industry,” executive producer of The Tunnel and creative director of the DLSHS Agency, Ahmed Salama, told INSIDEFILM.

“We’ve reached the point where we’ve had to adapt – especially for the smaller productions in the industry, you have to adapt or you die.”

The film explores journalist Natasha Williams’ investigation of the disused underground train tunnels in Sydney's St James Station and the mystery behind the state government’s quick decision to abandon plans to use the water from the flooded tunnel during a national water shortage.

The film is being produced by Distracted Media's Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey, while Andrew Denton’s Zapruder’s Other Films is also officially on-board the project.

Salama has no fears that the film won’t be a success, believing the online medium to give more people the ability to experience it before they buy it.

“BitTorrent is the largest distribution network in the world, and if people do see the film via torrenting it and enjoy it, then they’ll want to buy the film,” he said.

Similar to The Tunnel, several international films are also using the internet to raise funding.

Gregory Bayne’s Person of Interest explores an individual’s return from war and struggle with patriotism and Dave Gardener's documentary Hooked on Growth explores the global sustainability crisis.

Person of Interest aims to raise $US5000 via internet donations to allow the filmmakers to take their film before a small summer/fall tour – a decision motivated by unexpected positive reviews.

Those that contribute to the film can expect to receive a range of rewards depending on the amount contributed, including promotional t-shirts, guest tickets, and on-screen credits.

Similarly, Hooked on Growth seeks to raise $US250,000 to help the filmmakers finish their film and deliver it to the world.

For more information or to donate, visit The Tunnel’s website, Hooked on Growth’s website or Person of Interest’s website.