Nicol Wistreich, research, development & print

Hello Ideas

"Humanity is sane, and can make use of its intelligence. We have to act as if this is true. That’s the whole story of the 21st century: Are we a sane civilization or not?"
— Kim Stanley Robinson

Over 20 years my focus has evolved from indie film and the open web, via print publishing, to open source and the monopoly web. Through this trajectory I've tried to balance research with engaged practice — making documentaries and writing at the start of my career — and contributing to open source software and supporting a range of charities digital needs at present.

I co-founded in 1999 the weekly web-magazine, Netribution, exploring the overlap between moving image, web culture and new technology - with extensive free resources to help independent filmmakers. This led to several books, including an early look at digital asset management for the creative industries for Informa Media, three editions of the world Film Finance Handbook; and the co-development of Shooting People's profitable crowd-driven online community from 2002. The success of Cath & Jess's email-list-turned-global-brand inspired the relaunch of Netribution in 2006 as 100% open publication, generating 1000s of user contributions of film news, diaries and interviews. Questions of how the film industry could adapt to, and succeed in, the open web led to a series of public funded research and development projects backed by the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) and Creative Scotland, including a multi-year project with Scottish Documentary Institute looking at the use of CRM with digital distribution to help filmmakers connect with their audience and become a kind of vertically integrated indie/micro studio. With, over the last decade, the rise of the web monopolies, and their impact on culture, my research and practice has increasingly focused on Open Source, Coops and their links, while participating in the most-popular open source CRM/community for non-profits, CiviCRM – as front-end developer/UXer, implementer and lifelong learner.


Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 18:04
Given Uber's ability – in spite of owning no cars and employing no drivers – to swiftly grow and dominate any market it enters, there's understandably a lot of interest in a driver-owned Coop competitor, not least amidst growing controversies and opposition. In this article, two coop structures are explored, as...
Posted Friday, September 4, 2015 - 01:48
Two reports for the EU Interreg-funded Irish, North-Irish & Scottish creative cluster project Honeycomb. The first looked at producers & market activity across animation, film & TV, music and interactive media; the second at the commissioners of content, across tourism, advertising & health/education.Download Producers |...
Posted Monday, February 2, 2015 - 20:01
A short essay for Geo Coop on what makes worker-on-demand (WoD) service Uber unique and what it would take for the cooperative world to do the same. Some extracts:Uberfication has become shorthand for many new concepts—from the sharing economy to any significantly disruptive digital business model. But what exactly did Uber do that was...
Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 00:00
While co-ops and open source both exist within capitalism, and in some ways help drive it, they run contrary to its orthodoxy - as does most of the digital space, driven by unpaid activity. They could offer each other much: making the web more publicly controlled, and mobilising networked people to solve complex real world problems. Utilising...
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 23:00
In 1997, Kevin Kelly in Wired Magazine set out twelve rules for the new economy. Rule five was the 'Law of Increasing Returns: Make Virtuous Circles – the idea that you could create positive ripples that self-sustain themselves: as a networked platform becomes useful, it gets users, therefore is more useful, so gets more...
Posted Friday, June 1, 2012 - 00:00
The creation of this project was motivated by the struggle producers and distributors have to make a return on their work. With online revenues for films still uncertain, exhibition income is more important than ever, as it remains one market where people are happy to pay for content - and the market is healthy and growing. The music industry has...
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - 00:00
In June 2008 Netribution Ltd got Technology Strategy Board feasibility study investment to explore methods and models to enhance the live experience of film. The project, Living Cinema, was run in partnership with Eelyn Lee Productions and Yuva, culminating in test perfomrances at Thomas Tallis School in South London and the Star and...



  • How to Fund Your Film, Film Finance Handbook
    2007, 2009, 2012, Netribution Ltd
  • Get Your Film Funded, UK Film Finance Guide
    2005, Shooting People Press
  • Digital Asset Management
    2001, Informa Media
  • International Film & TV Rights
    1999, Market Tracking International