Australian Crowd-Fund Feature 'The Tunnel' Gets BitTorrent Release


SYDNEY -- Australian crowd-funded feature The Tunnel will get a worldwide release Thursday, through the BitTorrent Network in a first for an Australian feature.

The low-budget thriller has already gained significant attention here as one of a handful of new films to use a “crowd-funded” financing model and a release centered around online distribution.

To finance the low-budget feature, writer-producers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey made frames of the film available for $1 per digital frame, as it was being made, to raise the films $135,000 budget.

The Tunnel was shot entirely in Sydney, in many of the city’s disused tunnels and features an all Australian cast. The movie follows a news crew’s journey into the city’s mysterious underground hunting for a story, before the “story” turns on the investigative team.

While using an online financing model, the filmmakers decided to release their film online through torrent and file sharing sites, alongside a DVD release and a one off screening on pay TV movie service Showtime Première.

From Thursday people can download the film free via BitTorrent’s App Studio, purchase frames, view trailers, connect with the filmmakers on social media.

The Tunnel will be promoted through BitTorrent's Artist Spotlight program, which will spotlight the film on BitTorrent.com and µTorrent.com, as well as feature the film to new users who download either software product. The Tunnel will also be featured on Vodo.net, a U.K.-based company dedicated to helping independent filmmakers leverage the benefits of the global file sharing community.

"To see movies such as ours welcomed into the BitTorrent ecosystem marks a significant step in the adoption of the technology as a legitimate film distribution platform. And whilst we might be the first Australian film, I have a feeling we certainly won’t be the last,” said executive producer and marketing director, Ahmed Salama.

Shahi Ghanem, chief strategist at BitTorrent added: "The buzz around this film is astonishing. These progressive Australian filmmakers have captured the public’s imagination by funding the project through an entirely new model: the sale of single frames. This affords them the freedom to allow the world to openly enjoy and share the film."

Tedeschi said the online release was in part to thank those that put their faith and money into the film and also as acknowledgement that torrent networks, traditionally used for pirating films and TV, can be used as a genuine distribution model.

“Even though our unusual distribution model challenges the conventional way of doing things and many heavyweights in the industry will be watching this with interest, what is ultimately most important to us, is delivering a great movie to our fans. It is an awesome feeling to finally be so close to pushing it live for all of them to see what they have made possible”, he said.

Paramount Pictures Australia and Transmission Films have come on board to handle the DVD and online release, while a limited Australian cinema release has also been secured.

The Tunnel was produced by Distracted Media with support from Zapruder's Other Films.

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