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International open source film,, launches in New Zealand.

Stray Cinema is an open source film project. It is a unique experiment in film construction.

Open Source is a method and philosophy for software licensing and distribution designed to encourage use and improvement of software written by volunteers by ensuring that anyone can copy the source code and modify it freely.

The driving concept of this project is to marry film with the open-source ethos.”
– Michelle Hughes (Project Coordinator)

The raw footage from a film shot in London has been made available for the public to download from the Stray Cinema website. This is to provide people all over the world with the opportunity to create their own version of the film.

“Traditionally films are created by a tight network working towards a singular vision, and the footage is only released when its owners can control how it is interpreted. We want to give everyone the opportunity to have a say over what story is told with this footage. We accept that other people may make a better cut of the film than we do.” says Michelle.

To participate, people must edit a one-two minute version of the film they wish to make from the available footage. Participants are then invited to post this manipulated footage back onto the Stray Cinema website, to be judged by their online community.

The top five films will be screened alongside the original film cut, at the Stray Cinema screening in London. The screening will be held six months from the day there are 30 film submissions on the website.

“Not only are we are encouraging participants to remix one source of footage, but it is a complete journey. The process began when we released our footage online. Participants then modify the footage, submit their own version on our website, and finally the chosen five are navigated from the online digital world, into the ‘real world’ with our London screening.” she says.

“The London screening will also involve VJ's mixing raw footage from our film to live music. We aim to have interesting ways in which our online community can also be involved, such as footage from the event being web cast live onto, along with music, live chat and blogging.”

Stray Cinema will be an ongoing annual event. Each year the screening will be in the country the footage originates from.

“Stray Cinema is unique from anything that has been done before. We don't know where this idea will take us, and that's why we're excited about it.”

About Stray Cinema

In October 2005, Michelle Hughes directed a short film in London. Michelle had no formal training or previous experience in film making. She gathered a team of six people to help her shoot the film, none of whom had formal training in the film industry, just related experience. A handheld digital camera was used to shoot this film, which allowed greater freedom with the location and content of the footage they were able to capture.

The main point of interest at this stage in the film project was the accessibility of digital film, allowing different people to tell their story via film, placing filmmaking into new hands. Originally the footage shot in London was to be used for only one cut of the film - their own. When Michelle moved to Wellington in early 2006, she worked in collaboration with a small team to develop the concept of Stray Cinema – an open source film project.

Stray Cinema is an exploration of the possibilities of the information-sharing age. We aim to become a continuing community that uses the potential of modern info-sharing technologies and paradigms to create movies that are then screened and distributed in the real world. We are part experiment in the creative potential of the global hive mind; part educational outreach aiming to demonstrate the benefits of the open source paradigm to people unfamiliar to the concepts; part venture aimed at harnessing the skills and talent abundant in the Internet community, to create product that can be consumed by the world at large.

Michelle Hughes personal profile

Michelle is 24 years old, and comes from a background of performing arts. She spent two years at Hagley Theatre Company in Christchurch completing a Diploma in Performing Arts, and two years performing improvised theatre with the Court Jesters at The Christchurch Court Theatre. Her work history is a mixture of promotions, and media sales. Michelle spent 18 months in London, where she directed her first short film, and worked part time as deputy editor of online art magazine Soma Soma Scene ( She currently lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand.


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