While many look back on Napster as merely a music downloading service that eventually tanked, Winter recalls how truly revolutionary the platform was back in the '90s. "It was this completely efficient, perfectly constructed global community that worked, where the day before there was none."
That's when he started to follow the story and controversial legal issues surrounding Napster creators Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning. "They were two beaten, broke teenagers when I met them," Winter says. At the tail end of the Napster lifespan, "They were vilified. They were penniless, and they were blindsided by the amount of press scrutiny they were getting."
When he first drafted a dramatic narrative, it never got off the ground, but he was close with everyone involved in the process, so he decided, "I should just make a doc and let these guys talk."
He knew that the ethics and transparency issues that were important to only a small group in 2002 would soon become global issues and the tale would still have relevance. "We knew that the government was going to one day wake up and go, 'Oh crap, the people have a voice and we can't stop them.'" But he notes that didn't really happen until about three years ago.
"I feel like the Napster story was very badly covered," Winter says. "The media sort of bought into a lot of spin." It was his mission to demystify the whole story.
"The core driving motive for me making this movie was to actually represent the complexity of this issue and that it wasn't about pirates versus the industry," he insists. "It was about a technological revolution."
And for those invested in the Bill and Ted cult hit, Winter confirms that the third film is on its way! And they won't be casting new kids or anything. "This is us now," he says. "This is This is 40 if 40 was really stupid and not aware that we were 40... at all."
Subscribe to What"s Trending for the hottest interviews of SXSW 2013 and the best of YouTube every day!