To most people in the entertainment industry BitTorrent is seen as a tool to download video and music without the consent of copyright owners, but there are also many artists who see it as a vital part of their business. The BitTorrent-only TV-series Pioneer One is one of the most progressive projects in this regard, and today the producers have released the third episode, with the fourth being scheduled for a release in the coming weeks.
It’s almost a year ago when we first wrote about the idea of two young filmmakers who had a plan to make a TV-show to be released on BitTorrent only, completely funded by the public.
In the months that followed this idea slowly transformed into something real. Within a few days the makers secured enough money to shoot a pilot, and with the help of many volunteers it was released to the public during June last year.
The pilot was released on the VODO platform, which guaranteed maximum exposure through partners like The Pirate Bay and FrostWire, but getting people to download it was the easiest part of the puzzle. There were still five episodes to go to finish the first season.
Luckily, many people liked what they saw and decided to donate money to keep the project going. An additional $20,000 was raised in two weeks and the counter topped the $30,000 mark early September – enough money to shoot more episodes.
As was hoped, the project was kept alive by fans of the show and the second episode was released late last year.
Today, Pioneer One reached another milestone as episode 3 of the show was just released. The fourth is currently scheduled for a release next month. Pioneer One writer Josh Bernhard is convinced that despite the unusual release format the show’s fan base is growing.
“The release of episode 2 demonstrated that the audience was still there, with more people discovering the show for the first time. I think each new episode is going to build our momentum, and people are going to become more invested as we reveal more pieces of the story,” Bernhard told us.
Pioneer One Episode 3
And it’s not just BitTorrent users following the project, there has been plenty of recognition from other filmmakers and traditional TV people too. The peer-funded episode won an award for ‘Best Drama Pilot’ at the New York Television Festival, which was quite a morale booster for the makers and an indication that they are on the right track.
“I think the idea of BitTorrent as a viable means of distributing content is really starting to break through,” Bernhard said. “BitTorrent has something of a stigma, especially for people in the entertainment industry. When you say BitTorrent, I think a lot of people hear ‘piracy’ and stop listening. But between Pioneer One, Zenith and other projects adopting the same model, it’s going to become too big to dismiss.”
Although the Pioneer One crew have left their mark on history already, there is one major downside to the BitTorrent model. Shooting a TV-show is a costly exercise, and since the main budget also comes from peers, the crew has to raise money after every release so they can finish the first season. Thus far this has worked out, but an extra push is needed to fund the remaining episodes.
“We’re starting production of the last two episodes of our first season in May, financed with whatever money we raise between now and then. Our main focus is finishing out the season of 6 episodes, which I think will be a huge achievement. Naysayers said it couldn’t be done, that we were foolish for even trying. But we’re closer than ever and we’re determined to finish this chapter of Pioneer One, come hell or high water,” Bernhard said.
The third episode of Pioneer One can be downloaded on VODO, and don’t forget to chip in if you support the project.