Keep Watching the Iron Skies!

April 4th, 2012 by

Iron SkyForget about global warming, zombie apocalypses, Mayan prophecies and asteroid impacts. Those things are all absurd. What you should be worried about is an impending invasion by moon Nazis. They’re up there, in their secret moon base waiting to return to Earth and complete their plans for world domination.

That’s according to the plot of Iron Sky, a new crowdsourced film by Finnish filmmakers Samuli Torssonen and Timo Vuorensola. They’ve also created the film crowdsourcing website, Wreckamovie, which lets film makers submit production tasks to the crowd. We managed to catch up with Samuli during a busy promotion schedule to ask him a few questions.

The official premiere is April 4th but you’ve already shown the film at a few major festivals including Berlinale and SXSW. What has the reception been like so far?

Generally the response has been really great! The comment we hear most often is that the film really exceeded everybody’s expectations (even the sceptical ones).

How much of the film would you say was produced through crowdsourcing?

There were a lot of small things that came together in the finished film. For example, lots of plot ideas that ended up in the script came in from the crowd. The community also designed and printed prop posters for a scene in Germany and produced some 3D models of Earth Force’s ships. Audio recordings for Earth Ship captains were also by the crowd.

In effect we had the world’s biggest marketing department working for us, for free. And of course there was a lot of money raised, without which the film could never have been produced.

What did you learn from crowdsourcing your first film StarWreck that you were able to apply to the production of Iron Sky?

We found overall that tasks which take between 2-3 hours bring the best results. One of the most important things we learnt was that people really are willing to help you if they feel you have a worthy project and you are ultimately giving something back.

Do you think a film in the sci-fi genre is more suited to a crowdsourced production than say a drama or a thriller?

I think it helps because sci-fi fans tend to be more active online. This makes it easier to reach your audience and interact with them. I think other genres can be crowdsourced effectively if you can convince the audience that your project is special and worth their time.

You also created a website for crowdsourcing films called Wreckamovie. Do you have any plans to implement an algorithmic distribution system on the site?

At this point we don’t have any plans for an algorithmic distribution system but the tools and user interface we have now still need a lot of work. We are working on improving it, looking at how we and others want to use crowdsourcing. We need to evolve and learn new techniques.

What do you see for the future of crowdsourced movies?

I think this is just the beginning of digital crowdsourcing. In the future I think online tools will become more effective and easier to use, and we will get better at motivating people to take part in productions.

As more and more distributed rendering projects come online, independent film makers will have access to almost unlimited processing power. To me the future looks great (if we can just survive the invasion from the moon Nazis).