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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Interview With Michael W. Dean Regarding Intellectual Property Law

Back in the day, I co-founded the first Film Club ever at Pueblo West High School, along with my good friend Caynen. There were others involved with the project as well, but no one was nearly as consumed by it as Caynen and I were. At the time, we were obsessed with creating not just one movie, but multiple short films. I was writing script after script for all of these different films we had planned, collaborating with Caynen on everything. After we filmed our short On The Shoulders Of Zombies: The Untold Story of the Evil Dead Four, however, it seemed as though I had gotten the filmmaking bug out of my system, at least for the most part. I still yearn to create movies now and then, though not with nearly the amount of passion I had for it when I was younger. Also, at the time I was using a less-than-legal copy of Final Draft, which I no longer have, and to start out in the industry is just extremely cost-prohibitive. Just look at the price of the RED digital camera, which is the first digital camera to break into Hollywood, having been used to shoot films Like Crank and the yet-to-be-released Robocop remake, among others. This camera is often touted as being relatively cheap and easy for studios to acquire and utilize, with a price tag of only $10,000. Film cameras cost much, much more, and don't even get me started on the cost of developing the film itself.
I bring up our high school Film Club adventures because, during this time Caynen and I came across an intriguing book called $30 Film School. Once we saw this and read the description (DIY Film School!), we knew we had to have it in our bag of tricks. Once we finally managed to get a copy of the book, we both took turns salivating over it as if it were our last meal. So much new information about every facet of filmmaking was now at our fingertips. It opened our minds to new possibilities for our guerrilla filmmaking. It even gave me the idea (that I subsequently never followed through on due to my laziness, or something) to apply for 501(c)3 fiscal status. Which is just a fancy way of saying that you are non-profit organization. This was important to us at the time because it would've allowed us to entice our neighbors and community members to invest money in our film because it could be written off for taxes. On an interesting side note, we made fun of the process of trying to get donations from family members in our short film, which you can see for yourself on Youtube.
While reading the book, it also came to our attention that the writer also had a film, called DIY or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist. We thought this was an awesome title, and as such we determined that it must be part of our filmmaking toolbox and that, again, we had to have it. Only this time, funds were a bigger issue.
This is where I got creative. I took it upon myself to write an email to the book's author, who had so graciously included his contact information in the book. This is when I first contacted Michael W. Dean for anything, and in this particular instance I figured, since we were now an official school organization and what not, that I would ask him to donate a copy of the film to our club.
Dean was helpful in informing us that the entire video was up on Youtube, and sent us links to each of the chapters even. We watched it repeatedly, gleaning as much information as we could from the film. The one thing that always stuck with me from our correspondence however, was the fact that someone who was famous had messaged an angsty teen like myself back at all. I thought it was very, very cool of him to do that when he didn't have to, and I appreciated the correspondence I had with him, keeping the emails saved in a folder of my Yahoo Mail account to this day.
So it should come as no surprise that when I got the idea that I wanted to interview someone high-profile about copyright law and intellectual property rights that I again took to emailing MWD. And it should also come as no surprise that he was as gracious as ever, promptly responding to my request with a very positive attitude.
You see, knowing about his history in independent filmmaking and other art, I figured he would already have an aversion to copyright law. Little did I know that he had continued with his career in the public eye, having most recently created a radio show called the Freedom Feens. Upon learning this, I got even more excited.
Not only was he willing to be interviewed, but this was probably one of the best possible sources I could interview for the chosen subject! I prepared a list of questions to ask him and readied myself for the interview. I had no idea that, between his responses and my recent prior discovery of my latest idol, Cory Doctorow (in particular, his preface to Little Brother), that my feelings regarding copyright law would also be changed.
Now, I should mention that I was already beginning to think copyright law and intellectual property were bad. This became especially apparent for me after I had read the book Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow (which, by the way, he gives away free as an eBook, and is definitely a must read for anybody living in this day and age). I just hadn't come to terms yet with the fact that my 'creation' would be available for anyone to read, distribute, and alter as they saw fit (the alteration bit I still have a hard time with, but I'm getting there) all entirely for free. In other words, I still had a lot of learning to do.
It should also be mentioned that I have a history of piracy and illegal downloading et cetera, but it wasn't until Doctorow softened me up that I stopped living in a moral limbo. Listed as "The Copyright Thing" in his book Little Brother, Doctorow takes advantage of his clout to deliver a short and sweet view of anti-copyright philosophy. Admittedly, a lot of it comes from his observations of a speech he saw Neil Gaiman give, but the ways he explained that sharing is just plain human nature were what I enjoyed the most, saying things like, "It's ridiculous to say that people who want to "loan" their electronic copy of my book to a friend need to get a license to do so. Loaning books has been around longer than any publisher on Earth, and it's a fine thing."
My biggest revelation came when I was shown that the ability to loan out copies of your favorite books without having to actually part with them, even temporarily, is a feature, not a shortcoming. This is one of the big reasons why I have decide to make my eBook available for free, for example.
Then came the interview with Michael W. Dean. He made me realize errors in personal philosophy that I had taken for granted as true. This was outside of the initial subject of the interview, even. Basically, the man is a verbal wordsmith, which is why he co-hosts a podcast, I suppose. And very successfully, I might add.
I don't want to go into too much detail here, lest I spoil the surprise for those of you that wish to hear it when it airs on Freedom Feens, but suffice it to say that he convinced me very easily to divulge my own personal opinions and where I stood, and then proceeded to show me why I was wrong. And to his credit, not only did he come out of left field and surprise me with the question of my personal philosophy, by he managed to keep the conversation cordial and polite. It wasn't so much that he was telling me I was wrong as it was him telling me why his position was more advantageous and therefore desirable. Add to that the fact that I had been so caught off guard by the whole thing that I was still reeling by the time he was halfway through responding to my response, and I was fully aware of the depth of this man's convictions as well as his ability to persuade.
From early on in the conversation, it was clear to see that this man has problems with the government (but then again, don't we all?) judging from statements like "I'm not a constitutionalist. It's a document I didn't sign." to "Obama is trying to take over the internet. Bush's saving grace was that he was stupid." Neither of those statements are anything I would disagree with (at least not anymore), but listening to his insightful and impassioned speech, it quickly dawns on you that this is a man with very large cajones. The best thing about him though is that he doesn't come off as cocky or arrogant at all either, instead making the listener want to join him in his mission to educate the public.
When I first attempted to call him, I had technical difficulties with my Skype for about ten minutes while he patiently waited. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear him, but he could hear and record me, so we decided I would give him my cell number and he would call me, so I could hear him.
We spoke for a little over an hour, discussing why intellectual property was harmful to our very society, and how it harms the very artists it claims to protect. Luckily it was only an audio interview, because Dean had so much to say on the subject that I was literally reduced to a series of 'yeah's and 'uh-huh's for approximately 98% of the interview. This was not a bad thing, however, as he never seems to be grasping for subject matter or things to talk about. This is undoubtedly what makes him a great co-host and why so many people choose to listen to him and his fellow host Neema Vedadi, who has recently handed the torch over to Dean.
Altogether, my interview with Michael W. Dean has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me, and I hope it will be the same for you. As of this writing, the interview I conducted with Dean will air on the Freedom Feens radio show on Sunday, May 4th, and will also be available for download as a torrent from their site after it airs.
I want to thank you for the DIY influence you have had on my life, and before I even engaged you to do this interview and write this article, I found myself looking back and seeing that those experiences in Film Club, which mostly stemmed from our carefree youthful spirit but were also heavily influenced by your ideas, helped to create the man I am today. A man with a healthy distrust of his government, a strong desire to seek the truth, and a need to strive to make change for others in our society for the better. Thank you Michael W. Dean, for being an entrepreneur and affecting the world with your ideas. Don't ever stop spreading them to the public at large.

If you would like to listen to the interview I had with Michael W. Dean, make sure to tune in to the show on Sunday, May 4th. Make sure to visit the Freedom Feens website for more information

*UPDATE* Michael W. Dean gave me the following links for you to listen, if you're interested.

List of the 25 radio stations that carry the Freedom Feens:

Live streaming link if you're not in one of those cities:
Liberty Radio Network:

P.S. I strongly encourage those of you who use torrents to go to the Freedom Feens' Torrents Page and subscribe to the RSS feed to receive the latest news and other goodies before anyone else. Then make sure to download all of the material you're interested in (or you can be like me and download every last bit) to help protect the info from the drones when the boot finally comes down on us all.


  1. Chris,

    This was a great interview that you did with Michael W. Dean. He shared your site with me. I am going to check out Day In & Day Out, it sounds good.


    1. Right on, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope the same goes for my story. Worms!