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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Glitch hits online film launch
This is Not a Love Song
The film was shot in two weeks
Overwhelming demand caused the first movie to be officially premiered on the internet to crash, organisers say.

This Is Not A Love Song - the new feature from Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy - stalled almost as soon as organisers flicked the switch allowing viewers around the world to stream it to their screens.

A message was promptly posted on the website apologising to people trying to access the movie.

Organisers of the online screening have since said they had not expected the project to spark such international interest and their website simply could not handle overwhelming demand.

Frustrated, but delighted with the response, they say they are now working desperately to have the film up and running again within 48 hours.

This Is Not A Love Song went "live" online at 1800 BST on Friday at which point about 75,000 people around the world tried to access it simultaneously, crashing servers.

Competition 'squeeze'

The low-budget British film - costing £500,000 to make - is a gritty thriller shot in less than a fortnight. It stars Harry Potter actor David Bradley.

Much of the film's funding came from the UK Film Council.

Film Council spokesman, Ian Thomson, said the level of interest had been "extraordinary."

"It has proved a great experiment," he said.

"We are working to restore the site and the good news is that it has proved there is an audience and distribution channel for this work.

"It means people have watched the film and we are hoping it will encourage others to see the benefits."

The film's producers chose an Internet launch in order to help more UK film-makers have their films seen more widely.

Mr Thomson said: "Our hope now is distributors will see this success and consider picking it up for the cinemas." Writer, Mr Beaufoy, previously told BBC One's Breakfast programme he wrote the film for the internet because it was hard for small local films to get distribution deals.

"It's on in five cinemas but the point was we felt British films were being squeezed out of the cinemas by big American blockbusters, and the films I like watching and making are little small niche films that have no place in the cinema.

"We thought, 'Let's try and get our films out to the man in Norfolk and the woman in the Yorkshire Dales who never see my films'," he said.

'Taut thriller'

The film has been made available for streaming or for download from the film's website at a cost of between £2 and £3.

It is also on the programmes of cinemas in Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and London.

If you have seen the film, tell us what you think on the form below.

I live in the US, and I was interested in downloading this film. (Before I found that one must be based in the UK to do so.) After reading Ryan's comment, I thought that it was odd to make such a big deal about "the world's first online movie" if that may not even be true. I did a quick google search, and found that this film was released on video in the US on August 12th of this year. (The online broadcast was scheduled for September 5.) It looks like it is much easier to get ahold of this film that I had previously thought.
Evy, USA

I think being able to down load films on the internet is fantastic. While I hope going to the cinema never goes out of fashion, Hollywood truly has the monopoly and its time for a revolution! Hollywood produces so much rubbish and does not fully explore the wonderful talent that is out beyond the California boarders.
Amy, Boston USA,

What a great idea - the content is available. Pity it will take 2 weeks to download on my 56k modem.
Craig Tubby, UK

Sounds like a good idea, but it has several flaws.. 1) They say it's rated 18 - how on Earth do they intend to enforce the restriction? They take Visa Electron cards - something that can be issued to people under the age of 18. What verification checks are there? If they want to ensure their audience is 18 or over they should just accept credit cards. 2) What happens if I use Linux? Will they support relevant players for that operating system? 3) Downloadable versions. What's to stop somebody from then putting it on a P2P system and let other people download it for free?
Martyn Drake, UK

This looks like a fantastic idea and I was raring to go until I saw the required player... why are they using Microsoft Windows Media Player (v9) - why not offer an alternative MPEG download as well?
Chris, UK

Well its really good to see a film project embracing the internet rather than fearing because of piracy. Unfortunately I won't be watching this film because for some reason it is only available for Windows so I can't watch it on my Mac. This seems to me to be a strange decision since, while apple only have about 3% of the PC market the iTunes music store which is, at present only available for Mac's is the most successful online music store in the world which demonstrates that apple users are willing to pay for online content in large enough numbers to justify providing content for the mac.
Andrew Smith, UK

No I haven't seen it. It's only available for Windows. I and thousands like me are Mac based. Quicktime and RealPlayer are options that all producers of video content can and do use to allow Mac users access, but this appears to have been ignored in favour of the inferior Windows Media Player. Mr. Beaufoy, you've shot yourself in the foot and I've just lost all interest in your Windows-biased film.
Paul Canny, England

Alas! I will be unable to watch this as yet again Mac users are not catered for. Shame on the makers of this film.
Grizelda, UK

Haven't seen it, and can't see it. Why? Because it's only available on Windows Media Player 9, so Mac and Linux users (numbers growing daily) are frozen out. Was there any reason why this could not be streamed using Real Player, which is available for just about every computer OS out there?
David Hulse, UK

I haven't seen it. And I won't see it. The site proudly declares one of the features to be "Accessibility for all..." and they appear to have done a bang-up job making subtitled and audio described versions of the film available. Unfortunately, this promise falls down in one very simple technological way - making the film accessible only to those who chose to run Microsoft's DRM-enabled (Digital Restrictions Management) Media Player on their famously insecure and unstable Windows platform. There is a significant proportion of the UK online community which doesn't fall into that group. Having been burnt in the past, and as an enthusiastic purchaser of 'online content', I now refuse to pay for anything which isn't available in an open, published, cross-platform standard form. This is roughly equivalent to releasing a DVD which only plays on Sony and Panasonic players, because they are the big companies in the field, and refuses to play on Aiwa players. Only weirdos don't have the same software/hardware/whatever as everyone else, right?
Richard Cohen, UK

This morning on BBC Breakfast News it was said that the film was free to download, this is not the case. The films makers were asked "how will you make money", they replied "we don't know" and so promoted the idea that the film was free. If only 500,000 ppl download this film it will earn the makers over a million. With hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free advertising from the BBC.
S Michael, UK

Saw the trailer, the film looks like its definitely worth a butchers. Unfortunately, it seems the film is only available to Gates's mob - why should I need to be running windows or have windows media player installed? Not a good start for an e-movie genre.......
jai gomer, wales, uk

I won't be able to watch the film on my PC, as I don't use Microsoft Windows. Looks like it's "to the cinema" for me if I want to see it...
Tim, UK

This is not as good a thing as it should have been. First, locking out non-Windows users from watching this film will detract from the success of this experiment. There are many open formats that are supported on Windows, Linux, BSD, and MACs. The kind of people who watch indie films are the kind of people who often use systems other than Windows. Adding to the problem is it actually doesn't leverage the strength of the Internet - it is a trans-national entity and making this a UK only event doesn't make any sense to me. Either way, this film will shortly be available on any one of a number P2P file sharing networks, defeating the point of UK only distribution. It's too bad they didn't properly think this through. They really haven't done anything ground-breaking here. Delivery only on Windows in the UK. They should have gone the whole hog and the postage and used the inherent strength on the Internet as an open, trans-national network. Then they would have had a worldwide media event. Worse, their website doesn't even allow for comments to be submitted. Thankfully, I can speak my mind to you good folk at the BBC ;-) -- John Campbell, Montreal
John Campbell, Canada

Well, I would like to see the film, but there are two stupid reasons I cannot: - I have to be based in the UK for some reason? - I do not have M$ Windows and thus nog Windows Media Player. (I use Linux). So I would like to pay for the movie, but I am not allowed in the online cinema. If that the way to go, well, I just HAVE to keep on downloading stuff...
Marko, Netherlands

I haven't seen the film and can't because my choice of computing platform (Macintosh) is not supported. That being the case I think that it is misleading in your news story to show your reporter watching the film from his Macintosh computer.
Mike Sinclair, United Kingdom

I have not seen the film, and can't, because it is only available to computer users running Microsoft Windows. This is not necessary - plenty of online video services can be made available to other platforms. It's ironic that the film's producers lament the difficulty in distribution, yet limit their own form of film distribution to the users of one platform, in which the company (Microsoft) is well-known for trying to increase its market domination. It would be nice if the BBC mentioned this on its website. It would have at least saved me the time of bothering to go to the film's website, and having to find out (it's not immediately apparent) for myself. Inexcusable that this project should be a victim of its own success. It's not like there isn't technology (eg Akamai) to make sure sites aren't overwhelmed with demand, even for the download of movie files.
Magnus Huckvale, UK,Bath

I cannot see the film as I do not use Windows. I am not alone. I belong to a growing community. I will be contacting the Film Council and asking next time to reconsider funding films that use exclusive software.
anon, Uk

Not yet seen the film as it is not available to Mac users which is interesting as I have just watched an article about it on BBC News 24. The reporter talked about being able to view it from your home if you owned a PC. He then sat down in front of a Mac, the same set up I have at home, and watched the film on what appeared to be Windows Media Player 9. Interesting as I tried to do the same only to discover on the film's web site that it was unavailable for Mac users as Microsoft had not yet released Media Player 9 for any other platforms. Send us a copy of this unavailable software please as I would love to watch it on my Mac! It proves just how sexy the Mac is to get such a staring role.
Jon, UK

It requires Windows Media Player! There seems to be some sort of tension between the 'independent film-maker trying to do something creative outside the walls of big business' image and using a format which is proprietary to the biggest business of all. There are plenty of other good formats for streaming video, so why choose this one?
Tom Stoneham, United Kingdom

I Couldn't download the film because I use an Apple Mac and it doesn't run the Windows Media Player. It seems as if the film does use a large distribution company after all. So much for the independents.
Geoff Rayner, UK

If I could get at it then it would be a start. To be honest its a bit of a joke...the publicity for this today has been crazy, you would have thought that they would have at least had the server/infrastructure to make this go well. I guess this shows why this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.
Jonathan Peat, UK

Well it comes as no great surprise after all the hype about this film being heralded as the next evolution of film distribution - that the thing doesn't work! With all the publicity this movie-release received, I very much doubt that the company would have enough bandwidth for everyone that wants to stream/download it anyway.
Henrik, Scotland

Very poor technical decision to stream it in the poor Windows Media Player format rather than a wider standards-based format like QuickTime. Only users of Microsoft's operating system can view the film - if the site was working that is, which it was not. Bad technical platform decision made worse by bad technical delivery - total failure both strategically and operationally.
Bill, UK

I thought the film was really good. I live in the California now and it seems strange that this event took place in response to Hollywood blockbusters, yet I saw this film two months ago on video !!
Ryan, USA

From all the comments received so far I am disappointed and forsee that this venture is going to help put the nail into coffin once called the internet. As if people who are not in DSL/Broadband areas will tell you the process of using the net is at best "dead slow" to "stop". And this is only one movie - what happens when everyone else wants a fast buck doing the same ? My ISP recently had to make a vast investment in upgrading from 10Mbit to 34Mbit pipe just because people were freely swapping movies and music. Things will only get slower until the industry realises you cannot do "everything" over the net. Lets stick to browsing and e-mail and get the lazy ones down to the high street for resonably priced movies and music.
Peter, UK

Ah, it would be nice to look at the film but like most of the people above, who are interested in indie films, I use a Mac and Linux BUT not Windows (except at work and I don't have time to look at it there cos I'm busy teaching people how to make films). Oh well, la de da! Lets start using QuickTime or RealPlayer so we can all have a look!!!!!
George, England

If I use Mac or Linux, can I view this movie? No, I cannot. Windows Media Player is a poor choice when other, more widely available formats could have been used. Think different. :-)
Bob, USA

Although they are the pioneers taking the load of criticism for being innovative and courageous, the people that will do it right next time will be more than likely Hollywood, as they have the money, resources and market, and of course, a zero in risk and innovation. Some British "mad people" is taking the load from them... So be a bit more supportive with the UK e-filmmakers as they deserve applause. Besides, a note about alternative filmmaking, if you are not patient with lowbudget filmmakers trying to break bo! un! daries, you are only encouraging their extinction while promoting Hollywood to take over. Next time you want to criticise, think about what you are achieving with it, and which sort of world would you like your children to grow up in. Be more positive...
Nuria, Spain & UK

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Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

The BBC's Rosie Millard
"The thriller was meant to be watched on both the silver and computer screens"

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