121 members of the public whose film clips were featured in Scotland’s micro-budget crowdsourced documentary We Are Northern Lights (WANL) are to share more than a co-director credit when the film is released online next week.

WANL has teamed up with online film distribution company Distrify to enable each of the co-directors to receive 25% of the price of each view when the film is released online. The co-directors are also in the running to share the laurels if We Are Northern Lights wins the Bafta Scotland Audience Award in November 2013.

BAFTA Scotland Cineworld Audience Award Launch

As one of this year’s eight nominated films, We Are Northern Lights will tour Cineworld multiplexes in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen from Sunday 20 to Tuesday 29 October. Members of the public can vote online for their favourite film at www.cineworld.co.uk/baftascotland from 20 October.

We Are Northern Lights was the first ever Scottish documentary film to receive cinema distribution from the Cineworld multiplex in May this year and has had over 200 screenings in Scotland since the film’s premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival in February. The online release will make it possible for people anywhere to watch the film on their computers or smart phones.

Scottish-based company Distrify are pioneering an innovative form of online digital film distribution, allowing anyone to share a link to a film trailer and shop from any social media platform, including twitter and Facebook. If a sale results, a percentage of the the fee is shared with the individual who directed the viewer to the film. So far their system has been successful for releases in the USA and India but Scottish films have yet to fully take advantage of the technology.

We Are Northern Lights Glasgow 16 February 2013
Some of the 121 co-directors at the We Are Northern Lights premiere

We Are Northern Lights asked the people of Scotland to asked to record and submit for selection their own personal videos on Scotland’s past, present and future to collaborate in the creation of a unique, feature length documentary film. 55 workshops took place up and down the country to encourage participation from all section of the community. Over 1500 submissions were received. The resulting 300 hours plus of footage took five months to edit into a 98-minute feature, with Nick working alongside the highly experienced film editor Colin Monie (Midnight’s Children, Neds). The film premiered on 16 February at Glasgow Film Festival.

We Are Northern Lights Glasgow 16 February 2013

Creative Director, Nick Higgins (above), said: “The whole Northern Lights story is incredible; firstly, just the fact that the Scottish public responded with so much footage and then, that they came to see the film in the cinema – and now we are delighted to have a chance to win a BAFTA.

“In light of this success I was keen to try and find a way to share any potential commercial success of the film with the people who helped make the film possible. Distrify are a unique Scottish company at the cutting edge of digital distribution and their technology makes it possible for our co-directors not only to help us distribute the film online but to gain financially from its success. In fact all our contributors can share in this scheme and so I believe the very manner of our digital release is completely in keeping with the collaborative and participatory ethos of the whole project, and even the fact that the BAFTA is decided by a public vote seems incredibly fitting for what many have decribed as ‘the people’s home movie’.”

Andy Green, Chief Operating Officer of Distrify, said: “We Are Northern Lights is the perfect film to take advantage of our technology. Such an innovative project with such a strong following on social media looks set to make a success of the opportunities digital distribution offers.”

Nick was recently appointed as Professor of Media Practice and Director of the University of the West of Scotland’s Creative Media Academy. He said: “Digital technology both in terms of cameras, including those on mobile phones, cinema projection and now digital distribution has created incredible opportunities for young people coming into the creative industries. As a Professor of Media Practice I hope to lead by example and to share what we learn with students and colleagues at the University of the West of Scotland’s innovative Creative Media Academy.”

Read this Q&A on Central Station with Nick Higgins about We Are Northern Lights.

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