NZ short film 'The Fanimatrix', the world's oldest active torrent, turns 18

The movie, set in The Matrix universe, cost just $800 to make over nine days.
The movie, set in The Matrix universe, cost just $800 to make over nine days. Photo credit: Supplied

Peer-to-peer filesharing platform BitTorrent has been around for two decades and is immensely popular as a means of pirating movies, music and software - but the oldest active torrent is about to turn 18 years old and it's a New Zealand fan-made short film.

TorrentFreak reports The Fanimatrix: Run Program, a 16-minute movie set in The Matrix universe shot in Auckland over nine days and with a budget of just $800, is the oldest torrent it can identify.

The short film tells the story of two rebels, Dante and Medusa, on a ship called The Descartes.

The torrent file The-Fanimatrix-(DivX-5.1-HQ) was first created in September 2003 and on Tuesday Newshub viewed 270 people still publicly 'seeding' it.

Sebastian Kai Frost, who created the torrent file and also appeared in the movie, told TorrentFreak that BitTorrent was the "perfect solution".

"In New Zealand this would have resulted in a completely unaffordable amount of bandwidth to be used sharing the file via traditional methods," he said.

"Especially given that the entire bandwidth in and out of the country at the time was less than a modern Wi-Fi link."

And it turned out using BitTorrent did exactly what it was intended to do, helping get the movie out to a massive audience and saving the creators an absolute fortune.

"The file was downloaded over tens of thousands of times in the first week and then really took off based off feature news articles on both New Zealand and American TV news," Frost said.

Some rough calculations by the crew at the time estimated they saved over half a million dollars in bandwidth costs in the first month of release alone.

"The fact that people still seed it after all these years is a good feeling. Though I suspect a lot of people are onboard now because they want to be part of keeping the world's oldest active torrent going," Frost told TorrentFreak.

For those interested in a unique Kiwi internet milestone, the original torrent file can still be used to download the movie. For those who aren't sure how to use BitTorrent, the last 18 years have seen many advancements in technology that make it easy to watch the short film in a variety of ways, such as the Vimeo embedded below.

Meanwhile, long-awaited sequel The Matrix 4 is set to be released in December and the first full trailer for it was released just days ago.