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aka James MacGregor, Netribution;s Northern and News Editor

Am very sad to learn of the death of Leslie Lowes, aka James MacGregor, Northern Editor of Northern Exposure from 2000-2001, authoring over 340 stories; and News Editor from 2006-2011, authoring and curating over 700 more. He was also the author of the microbudget chapter of Netribution's Film Finance Handbook. Before any of that, Tom Fogg interviewed him about his production company Penultimate Productions. / Nic

Shooting People co-founder, Doc Society founder

The sudden and untimely death of Jess Search at 54 left many stunned and sad. Obituaries rightly focussed on her huge contribution to documentary and social impact filmmaking – but miss something key: Jess was also a web pioneer. The digital community she founded with Cath LeCouteur 25 years ago has a long legacy – helping countless filmmakers, and demonstrating that social networks could make at least enough money to pay their moderators.

Netribution was founded in 1999 to support independent filmmakers making their way online. The website had two phases:

Screengrab of Netribution front page for the first issue of 2001.
December 31st 1999 – January 2002

'Web 1' – Static HTML, weekly issues

Netribution went live on December 31st 1999 as a weekly magazine and filmmakers' encyclopedia, written in plain HTML, and growing to over 2,500 pages. It ran for 99 weekly issues, thru the dotcom crash and 9/11 until February 2002. Some is archived here, as it's static (ie without a database) it's never been upgraded or hacked, and looks much the same as it did then.

Screengrab of Netribution front-page at it's relaunch in January 2006
January 2006 – 2014/~

'Web 2.0' – Dynamic database+user-driven

In January 2006, Netribution returned (below) as a dynamic user-generated filmmaker group-blog, publishing 1000s of submissions until May, 2014, when the last user-generated article was published. As its built on a database, using a content-management-system, it needs to be regularly upgraded, and has changed its appearance many times.

From the archive...

The early days of Web 2.0

Thank you for supporting the Open Web with Web Monetization.

11 August 2006
"As filmmakers we believe that no film can be too personal. The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude.” Lorenza Mazzetti, Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reiz, Tony Richardson - The Free Film Movement, February 1956 "

"For every entry in the encyclopedia, there is now a Web site. For any idea you can imagine — and some you can't — there are thousands of articles and images electronically swirling around the globe. But that's not the real story. That's not the big news. The word that's going around, the word that's finally getting out, is something much larger, far more fundamental. The word that's passing like a spark from keyboard to screen, from heart to mind, is the permission we're giving ourselves and each other: to be human and to speak as humans." Chris Locke, The Cluetrain Manifesto (Chapter 1), March 1999 ...

18 September 2009
"Anyone can be a filmmaker. What's really hard is to make a good, interesting film. A computer doesn't help you write a better novel; writing in a notebook longhand is just as good. "So technology can't do the job for you, but it can make the medium more accessible to more people... Within a short time, I could get 30,000 people coming to my site, from countries where Rage...

01 November 2006
In a 30 minute non-PR interview, Ewan McGregor talks with Netribution's Nicol Wistreich about his early days, the beginning of interest in drama at school, and travelling around Africa with Aids campaigners. He talks about his first ever play, practicing the lines to the sherif of Nottingham to himself, and overcoming the negative perceptions of people around him to get where he is now. The interview comes in four parts...
03 September 2006
"So the guys who started this business all cheated somebody to get there, and now they're being cheated, perhaps, by all these crazy, geeky people all over the internet. I must say, my anguish level is not great." Richard Dreyfuss

"although iTunes has 70% of the pay to download music market - only 1 in 40 of all tracks downloaded on the web are ever paid for. That's 2.5%" ...

25 November 2008
An article in the LA Times features news of a crowdsourced / micro-presales success story: Actress-writer-producer Sybil Temtchine has raised about half of the $600,000 budget for her film "Audrey" from female business leaders. About a year ago, she sat in a Borders and collected the name of every famous femal...
11 November 2007
In Europe last year there was €1.5bn in public funding for film & video projects - and its often the same people getting their hands on this cash. Information on media finance in 46 countries One of the most popular parts of Netribution in 2000 was ou...
06 March 2009
Former drummer of Nine Inch Nails' Josh Freese's offerings for his micro-presales / crowdfunded album has some great possibilities for filmmakers going the same route. "For £10,000, name film's villain after your high school bully, shoot tequillas on the beach on a full moon with Johnny Depp, get a song conposed and sung in your honour at the wr...
15 March 2016
“Staged financing must become the film business’s immediate goal.” – Ted Hope, Producer & Head of Production, Amazon Studios, September 2013 Crowdfunding’s lack of sophistication around risk Much, if not most, of investment strategy is about dealing with risk. A backer of a project – be that an equity or debt investor who is hoping to see some kind of profit, or a crowdfunding supporter who wants to get their perks and see the finished film – has to predict risk. Normally, the closer a project goes from idea to release – from pitch to screen – the lower that risk gets; it's reducing all the time. To refl...
In memoriam : interview archive
Photo of Jess Search from 2003

Jess Search: 1969 – 2023

The death of Jess Search at 54 left me stunned and sad, not least as it's some 20 years since we'd last hung out. Obituaries rightly focussed on her huge contribution to documentary and social impact filmmaking – but made only a passing mention to co-founding Shooting People 25 years ago with Cath LeCouteur. This misses something key: Jess was also a web pioneer.

Nik Powell: 4 Nov 1950 - 7 Nov 2019

Nik Powell: 4 Nov 1950 - 7 Nov 2019

After Nik Powell co-founded Virgin with school-friend Richard Branson, he ran Palace Pictures with Stephen Woolley, and later Scala Productions, where they both produced and found some era-defining films and filmmakers (Neil Jordon, Sam Raimi, the Coen Brothers, Lars von Trier, Shane Meadows), before leading the European Film Academy, and finally running the National Film & TV School. Powell had the rare combination of creative and entrepreneurial vision – along with a perhaps even rarer warmth, openness and geniali...
Roy Disney : 1930 - 2009

Roy Disney : 1930 - 2009

Roy Disney, nephew of Walt and general protector of Disney, has passed away. I was lucky enough to meet Roy in 2000 at the Belfast Cinemagic Conference, and it has stood as one of the more memorable encounters of my working life. I was quite nervous beforehand yet without need - he was warm and genuine in his convictions, unassuming with a quiet strength. [Netribution, Dec 2000] Roy worked for the 'Mouse House' for over thirty years before Michael Eisner pushed him from the board [only to get his own back, pushing Eis...
Mary Selway : 1936 - 2004

Mary Selway : 1936 - 2004

Mary was casting director for Spielberg (Indiana Jones), George Lucas (Return of the Jedi), alongside Superman, Withnail and I, Alien, Harry Potter and many more.

Stanley Forman : 1921 - 2013

Stanley Forman : 1921 - 2013

Archivist and filmmaker, Stanley built the UK's largest left-wing footage library, and made a series of films about Chile under Pinochet, including Companero, about Victor Jara

Jim Gilliam: building a people-powered movie distributor and financier with Robert Greenwald

Jim Gilliam : 1977 - 2018

If you can't raise finance for your feature, and cinema chains don't want to touch your film, what can you do? Until recently that could have meant the end of the project, but the web offers some interesting ways of changing this. "This was not like putting a blog post up and all of a sudden everybody comes and knocks our door down. We'd carefully cultivated an audience and put a lot of effort into the technology to pull them all together so that we could email them all at the same time." Jim Gilliam, producer of Bra...
22 July 2009
Burma VJ has been met with very positive reviews in the UK following its release last week, with a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but what do the Burmese depicted in the film make of it? In his first contribution to Netribution, JJ Kim travelled to the heart of the pro-democracy movement in Thailand to watch the film with Khine Wai Zaw - who was involved the Saffron Uprising of 2007 - and hear his story. I...
06 March 2009
Film looks at Saddam regime's 'modern holocaust' - second feature from Leeds based Oscar-shortlisted producers Human Film - 400,000 bodies in mass graves found since 2003 from over 30 years of rule - cast and crew are made up of many survivors of regime - includes lead actress Shazada Hussein; the only woman to witness against Saddam during his trial ...
29 January 2006
"What they choose to greenlight or not to greenlight is based on the tastes of the studio. And the tastes of the studio are largely about what they think is going to make money. It’s commerce. The sort of cyclical self-fulfilling prophecy that they always point to is that black movies don’t make money...
13 March 2009
As the Age of Stupid opens with a record-breaking simultaneous world premiere to a potential million viewers across 550 screens in over 60 countries over the...
08 August 2009
As the Yes Men - the thinking-person's Sacha Baron Cohen - see their latest film released in the UK, Netribution sneaks its way into a secretive underground political cell known only as 'Soho House' to find them out and learn more. ...

Contributors included

Co-founder & Editor-in-chief
Northern & News Editor

After bringing dozens of film stories and scoops from Scotland and the North of England to the London film set in the first Netribution with the weekly column Northern Exposure, Shetland-based James (pen-name for a film producer) produced and re-produced over 650 stories for Netribution's re-birth from 2006. He wrote Shooting People's Wideshot magazine and a chapter of the Film Finance Handbook.


Stephen has shot the breeze with everyone from Beyonce to Al Gore, Michael Moore, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Terry Gilliam, Vidal Sassoon and Jesse Eisenberg. He's the author of The Wicker Man: Conversations with Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer & Edward Woodward – and published dozens of interviews on Netribution.

Intereviews, news & reports

From reporter and editer for national newspapers and international news agencies, journalism and media trainer to presenting the Freelance Pod podcast – Suchandrika also wrote almost 100 articles for Netribution. Get her weekly newsletter here.

Reviews Editor

Laurence published 46 'Special Edition' DVD review columns on Netribution. He was the director of the Hull Short Film Festival, short programmer for the Leeds Film Festival and lives in Talinn, Estonia.

Carnal Cinema & Whining & Dining columns


  • Dotty S Parker, Leanne Smith, Ann McLuskey, Claudia Fogg, Lauren Archer, Joe Pearshouse, Sandip Mahal, Ben Blaine, Carolyn Atherton, Tamsin Ranger, Andrew Torr, Nigel Ward, Emma Carter, Sonja Henrici, Rich, Thierry Bonnaud, Marek Steven, Caroline Bottomley, Jesse Tate, Rose Chamberlain, Lisa Wolfe, Grace Ashworth, Philips Cinema, Sam Clements, Kathrin Merk, Kari Ann Shiff, Sofija Trenchovska, Claire Chabat, Tim Clague, Helen Dugdale, Dashiel St Damian, Sophie Mount, Elio Espana, & many more

Eric Dubois

Parisian cartoonist Eric Dubois was resident with Netribution during its first few months relaunch in 2006, illustrating all 54 of the original Carnal Cinema series.

Most Popular

Khine Wai Zaw, human rights activist, watches Burma VJ and shares his story
Before Pirate Bay & Cluetrain: The Temporary Autonomous Zone
The Yes Men fix the world. We ask what keeps them going?
Milk, Chocolat and Pi as the Co-Op moves into the film business
Sally Potter: “The beginning of a new way of looking at film”
Franny Armstrong - Determination amidst a rising sea of stupidity
The World Premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox will open the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival
Tom Fogg, Wendy, Nic Wistreich
December 1999, by co-founder Nic Wistreich

I'm desperate to launch in the twentieth century, and work night and day around Christmas to get 800 pages ready and uploaded New Years Eve. I'll never forget the bewilderment and shock when I realised that it had worked - that I had a site online. What I failed to do, however, was upload the images - here was a big sexy site with no pictures. But I had a train to catch - and hopped up to Edinburgh, partied in the millennium, watched the sun rise over Arthur's seat, got a train back to London, went to a screening of Fantasia 2000, went home, and uploaded the missing files.

by co-founder Tom Fogg

We embarked on this lunacy with no experience, no parental consent and no degree - just an acute ache for success that only the young have the energy and innocence to jeopardise in their quest. On the other side we've understood that we are adults now (I'm almost sad to say it) and besides, success stories are so predictable.