Back in 2010, writer, director and musician Cory McAbee shot "Crazy and Thief," a no-budget (well, $1500 budget) film featuring his two young children Willa Vy McAbee and John Huck McAbee, with little thought about who would eventually see the sweet film, which involves the two kids, a homemade star chart, a cyclops, a giant and a time machine.
"I reached a point where I thought if I get to make one film before I died, I didn't want it to be that film. I would want to make this film ("Crazy and Thief") because it's kind, and I don't that to mean 'nice.' I view kindness as a form of bravery. It's also about time and it's a portrait of childhood," McAbee recently told Indiewire by phone.
While shooting "Crazy and Thief," he ignored conventions about running time and ended up making a 52-minute film based on his 30-minute screenplay.
"I wanted audiences to see it, but I didn't know what the outcome was going to be. One of my two lead actors was two years old, so I didn't know what to expect," McAbee explained.
When "Crazy and Thief" screened at the L.A. Film Festival, Indiewire's chief film critic Eric Kohn gave it a positive review and he later included it on the list of Indiewire's Top 10 Best Undistributed Films of 2012.
While McAbee said the film got some potential interest for digital distribution, no appealing offers made it worth his while.
"I made this hoping to one day get it out for free. I saw it as a love letter that you would leave behind. It's not something you sell. You give it away," said McAbee, who recently shared the film with friends and colleagues via e-mail and social media.
"Here is 'Crazy and Thief.' Please enjoy it as a gift, free of charge. If you like this film, then I made it for you. If you know someone else who might enjoy it, send them the link, because I made it for them, too," he wrote in his message.
McAbee said he is finding the experience of giving away his work "liberating." "I was born fairly low income and maintained that throughout my life, but I like the work I do. Because of the work I do, I've gotten to do things and see things that I never thought I would."