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Anthropocene of Movies

There is a debate whether or not Holocene, the latest geological epoch is already finished with ultimate human impact on Earth's ecosystems, which started along with industrial and technological maturity in recent past. Many of us believe that new era, suitably named Anthropocene is what we are living in already. With technology rise, it looks like humans already changed fundamentally to the point of incompatibility with our distant ancestors. Perhaps we are indeed heading toward rapid evolutionary change, like in the latest Dan Brown's novel "Origin", but this premise is way more suitable for another science fiction I have just watched (for the second time). I am sure that for all of you who like intelligent movies, a long anticipated sequel for "The Man from Earth" finally came and it, without a doubt, opened the Holocene-Anthropocene transition for John Oldman, a 14000 years old man, who also, like entire humanity, seemed to be going through the change of his own.

The movie distribution has just started and I am not going to spoil the content but I will tell you that after I watched it for the first time my initial thought was that there was many "I didn't see this coming" moments, looking from the point of view of the first film. After watching a movie for the second time, and I really needed to do it to clarify the image, my impressions didn't change a bit and I truly hope Richard Schenkman's wishes for the sequel TV show will come to life. I would definitely like to see what happens next. Perhaps little more science than religion could spice the script with additional direction. After all, Anthropocene epoch is a scientific achievement, which is maybe faster in development than what human society can handle at the same pace.

"The Man from Earth: Holocene" comes with one more twist when it comes to distribution of films in general. It uses donationware, a licensing model originates from the software publication but with one more add-on, to stay with the IT vocabulary. If you don't like it, you get full or partial refund of the small amount of money taken from your card. This is exactly what I speculated once before on the blog, back in 2012 when some sort of political attack was launched after Wikipedia. The story went toward anti-piracy war and distribution of movies and I complained that my time was not free to be wasted and after watching some movies I felt like I would like having some system that would provide some sort of refund for both of my lost time and money.

"The Man from Earth" and "The Man from Earth: Holocene" are now part of this donationware-like system and the distribution of both films is made by a fairly new website called MovieSaints and in their words, this is the place "where people can discover and watch compelling independent films from around the world. Viewers can support the filmmaker/creators if they like a film and get a refund if they don't like it." I would really like to see the success of this for the future and not just for small independent projects but also for the major franchises as well. After all, internet is also one of those scientific achievements that are forcing full closure of the Holocene epoch and this donation-refund system, if succeeded, could have power to dramatically reduce intermediaries and pirates.

Ever since the internet arrived and spread everywhere as the ultimate carrier of the intellectual property of various kind, along with came the business, politics and all the other side-effects and struggles intended for squeezing pennies or votes out from the little man behind the screen. Of course, when it all started, the stage was academic and most of the suits, whether they were hiding behind various business acronyms or political parties, stayed outside. The internet was small back then and not important from their point of view. It was also more honest in the nineties before the new millennium. Well... Almost. The web pirates were there from the beginning.

I remember I wanted to contribute with what I did best at the time and created several desktop applications for home users and small companies. It was nothing special, just couple of ActiveX libraries to help Internet Explorer to use email functionalities and sharing files more easily or, for example, a very nice application for FM radio stations - the producers' tool for organizing "on the air" time with custom lists of MP3 songs and commercials scheduled to be aired automatically without host or technician. For small applications like those, it was popular choice to go with "Shareware" distribution. It basically meant the applications were free but slightly limited in functionality and if small fee was paid, I was creating the unlock code that provided restrictions to go away. Even without that, all apps were useful enough so the end users with paying for the code were actually more sending the note that they are really satisfied with functionality. The unlock code was pretty simple - just small math equations that verified that serious of numbers corresponds with the math result. Imagine my surprise when almost day after I posted applications online, the pirate sites included license keys for all of them.

At the time, the internet market was restricted to IT only, but today, it became fast and almost everything could be stored and streamed, without obstacles from technical point of view. The obstacle now is the fact that businessmen and politicians joined the pirates. Today, if you wrote the book, composed the music, created the software, had a breakthrough in science, made a movie or contributed with any kind of intellectual property and you want to earn little money from the effort, you can't do it alone. Your significant share is taken by businessmen or stolen by pirates or taxed and/or forbidden by illogical laws that favor others. Not to mention lawyers and bankers that also parasitically live within the system and take the share with any transactions or legal processes.

In conclusion and to put everything in perspective, what people behind MovieSaints are trying to do, at least with small independent movies, and what was the main idea decade or two with shareware concept, now with addition of refund policy, is taking one step further. It does require a little bit of honesty to work. Something that is not the prime feature for the average human being but I am sure that, deep down, everybody possess it. Moreover, along with honesty for this system to work, it does require other distribution companies to follow but to see it running on the bigger scale at least one big player in the vast internet arena must join.

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