I Made a Movie Worth Stealing: My Experience with Piracy

The other day I saw a discussion on Facebook about whether or not filmmakers should watermark the screeners they send to film festivals. Filmmakers generally seemed to be for it. Festival personnel seemed generally opposed, some citing it as a red flag for the filmmaker’s naiveté – like the people who ask you to sign an NDA before reading their screenplay. In the past, I never felt that obscuring the picture with some text was going to stop the sort of person who was set on pirating my movie, so I didn’t bother with it. Besides, I might argue I had yet to make a movie someone would want to pirate.

However, with my latest feature, Down and Dangerous, we had a genre picture with muscle. Its potential to garner eyeballs was greater than anything we’d produced before. So if it were to appear on torrent sites, I wanted at least to know where it came from. Following the studio’s method of placing those “little dots” on film prints, I added a bit of unique text to a single frame of the movie for every screener we sent out. This was imperceptible to the viewer, but if you knew which frame to look at, you could plainly see the initials for the festival or distributor hiding in the shadows…

Check out the rest of this article on Film School Rejects.