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'The Tunnel': A Sydney film you can watch for free ... legally
The movie set in Sydney's underground tunnels hopes to sidestep illegal downloads by being free in the first place
In 2007, the New South Wales government pulled plans to utilize the water in the disused underground train tunnels beneath Sydney’s St. James Train Station.
Rumors of a government coverup started to circulate, as did a series of urban legends surrounding the sudden turn around, which is when journalist Natasha Warner and a camera crew set about investigating the underground labyrinth.
Sounds real enough, but this is the plot of new horror movie, "The Tunnel," set to open the A Night of Horror International Film Festival on March 31.
The festival runs until April 8 at the Dendy Cinema in Newtown and will include 16 feature films and more than 50 shorts and music videos from Australia and around the world.
Shot entirely in Sydney, "The Tunnel" is getting attention not only because of its local storyline, but because of the way the film is being funded, made and released.
"Filmink" magazine even called co-authors Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey, "The innovators the film industry has been searching for since the rise of Internet piracy."
Starting a Sydney revolution
Spurred by the knowledge that the Internet is now causing a generation to be labeled as criminals for illegal downloading, the pair set about turning Internet piracy on its head.
Tedeschi and Harvey decided to stop fighting the peer-to-peer networks and work with them instead, under something they called The 135k Project.
"We figured movie posters and collectible frames from movies are being sold every day, so what if we could raise the money to make 'The Tunnel' by selling every individual frame of it?" says Tedeschi.
A 90-minute film consists of around 135,000 frames -- that means for a dollar per frame $135,000 will be raised. The completed film will then be released online for free. Around 32,000 frames have been sold so far.
Tedeschi and Harvey have also encouraged people to blog about their frame purchases, follow them on Twitter and Facebook and eventually, seed and embed the finished film.
"The Tunnel" is now a movie that has thousands of fans and supporters, before it has even hit screens.
Filipino-Australian director Carlo Ledesma is a Bacolod native who migrated to Sydney in 2004. Though he's won numerous awards for his short films, he says none of his projects to date has been as satisfying as this one.
"I was extremely fortunate to have a cast that was tireless, intelligent and receptive to ideas whilst dishing out their own," he says.
Established Australian actors, Andy Rodoreda, Bel Delia, Luke Arnold and Steve Davis form the TV and camera crew who find themselves in trouble in the tunnels. They’re stalked with horrific circumstances by a strange force, played by Goran D. Kleut.
With minimal equipment -- a beaten-up HD camcorder for night vision, the Canon 5D and the RED for the cinematic opening sequence -- Ledesma’s cast and crew shot in existing Sydney locations, mostly below street level.
"I love that we shot in the actual tunnels -- it felt strangely fulfilling working on something so maverick, knowing that the rest of the world moved along right above our heads," he says. "Underground filmmaking in every sense of the word."
"The Tunnel" is gearing up to frighten the life out of Sydney’s horror fans. But thousands of investors all sharing the finished movie on the Internet will also be left wondering what really happens in Sydney after dark.
You can’t ask for better exposure for your city than that.
Need to know
"The Tunnel" opens the A Night of Horror International Film Festival, March 31-April 8, 2011
Dendy Cinema, 261-263 King St., Newtown.
Festival website: www.anightofhorror.com
Tickets from: www.dendy.com.au