I've just finished watching episode two from the first season of Pioneer One, a sci-fi show made by amateurs, financed by donations and freely downloadable via Bittorrent. That is just fabulous! An episode is done with 20000$ and they need about 40000$ more to finish the last two episodes of the series.
I thought of this kind of system myself a year or so ago as I was observing that almost all movies and shows I watch are made by Americans, through gigantic media outlets that are only interested in profits and cancel any good show on the basis of money alone. I was wondering: where are the people that would be to TV what bloggers are to printed press? Of course, writing an article in a free public place like Blogger is a lot simpler than making a movie, but the idea is there. Mangakus do it all the time, in the US the comic book is back, why not TV shows?
The series is really good for the money that went into it. Except for some clueless actors that play very small parts, the people involved act decently and the atmosphere of the show is powerful and enticing. The dialogue is also strangely good, as I am used to clichees being sprouted in scenes of a certain type and when that doesn't happen, I have an eery feeling of unreality!
Pioneer One is not the only show like this. There is a network, called Vodo, with the motto: We love free! that helps distribute a lot of these Creative Commons licenced films and shows. I really want this to work. This gets the money from people interested to watch and gives it to the creators, rather than some vampire distribution network.
On that note, I would like to also talk about another TV show that is about to appear, called S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Yes, indeed, it is a TV series inspired by the game with the same name, which in turn was inspired by Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatsky brothers. The show is made by the Ukranian company that made the game and you can follow the progress of the series by going to its official site. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. show would not be freely released, but at least it is not part of the official channels for TV distribution. The story itself sounds cool and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe counts about 40 books already (in Russian, unfortunately, but give it time).
It moves slowly, but surely. I am convinced that in a few years people will make and distribute work via the Internet, directly sponsored by the people interested in their creation. All the salesmen in the middle will just be bypassed and creators will be controlling the cultural market rather than distributors. It only feels natural: if you distribute something under a Creative Commons licence, there can be no piracy :) So there, what I've always said comes true: the death of piracy is synonimous with the death of mammoth distribution companies and all their bullshit.