Archive for the ‘netflix’ Category

Online Viewing Can Be Social

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The chance you will watch an independent ‘film’ in a theatre has decreased significantly just in the last 10 years. The sheer volume of titles available on Netflix Watch Instantly, not to mention VOD IFC, HBO, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and countless other streaming and on-demand services means viewers no longer need advance planning to watch at home (or anywhere they have a laptop or iPhone).

Filmmakers can find this a bit depressing. Watching a film in a theatre is exciting. It’s big! It’s usually calibrated to look as good as it can. And most importantly, there are a bunch of people—strangers!—watching it together.

Creating this sense of spirit is a challenge for independents and perhaps the main opportunity to compete with the mainstream industry. We don’t have studio-size spends, but we can understand our audiences more precisely and have a more personal relationship.

For live settings, event screenings work very well. But can we make digital screenings social? We generally have little to no control over when people watch the films online, their physical circumstances, who, if anyone, they are with, or even if they watch the whole film.

Still, filmmakers have come up with some innovative ways of bringing the audience for digital screenings together. Transmedia, expressing your story in a different context, can play a great role. Lance Weiler’s Head Trauma featured a game that embedded clues in flash frames of the film itself, so viewers had to watch the film repeatedly to play and engaged with each other on the film’s site. You could offer live events to viewers of the movie during a digital rollout, such as a Skype-based Q&A. Using a technology like CrowdControls, viewers could identify their location and you could plan post-screening events in popular places.

Do you have other examples of ways to make online screenings exciting or social? Or are we doomed to living in a room with a virtual helmet?

Netflix is a theatrical tool

Monday, September 28th, 2009

The conventional wisdom for some time has been that having your film appear in any way to be destined for a home video release somehow undermines its theatrical viability. Theatrical bookers are known to have seen films available online for DVD purchase and refuse to show the movie.

On the other hand, sales of DVDs are shrinking in general, while rentals via Netflix are getting much bigger. And Netflix’s buys depend on how many people have queued the film, so a healthy window of opportunity before the DVD comes out is important.

Luckily, Netflix generally does not post the release date of films until a month before the street date. You can safely get information up about the film during the theatrical run. What’s more, many people are beginning to use Netflix like IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes- a source of information about the film. As soon as you get into festivals, Submit the data to Netflix.

Monday: News from the Nets

Monday, January 12th, 2009

I’ve been on a little hiatus- but what is interesting about the current state of digital distribution is that for all the constant barrage of “news” and “innovation”- for indies, things remain pretty much as they have been: confusing. I hope in ’09 there will be a little more clarity.

Recent news:
Netflix and Film Independent have joined up to create a $150,000 contest to support the creation of a feature film, which will have “distribution” through Netflix Watch Instantly (rather an increase from their standard WI license- see below for why the value of that may be changing).

Not unexpectedly, the numbers for home media in ’08 were not so great.

Spout, the movie website, has partnered with an online market called MeDeploy to help filmmakers offer download services, and put a marketing page on the site to supplement the effort.

A somewhat subdued CES, the tech playground/showcase took place in Las Vegas last week; among the announcements in the digital distribution field were various streaming televisions and Blu-Ray decks, many of which had Netflix as a partner. Another partner of Netflix, Roku, announced Amazon VOD would now play on their box, but strangely you can not purchase the box at Amazon.

Blu-Ray- the Great home media Hope, but only for the chosen few?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Netflix recently announced that they will be charging more for Blu-Ray rentals- presumably because they are paying more for BR titles. As BR becomes a much more saturated part of the marketplace, due to PS3s and lower-cost BR players that are expected for Christmas, BR sales are expected to zoom, seeing growth much above the 300% reported in the last year.

But for small distributors and independent filmmakers, BR feels still far off. Licensing and royalties involved in the patented manufacturing process make a BR disc at least double the cost of a standard DVD- and if you will only be selling 5-30K copies, the return can’t really justify the expense, especially since the major studios have set the BR price point pretty low.

Nevertheless, indies are going to have to make the leap in the next year- there is simply too much at stake to hold back, and most probably learned their lesson from the last time, when companies who waited around on DVD lost significant revenues. For now, we can look to Sony Pictures Classics as the example, since they (presumably by virtue of their relationship with Sony, a major stakeholder in Blu-Ray technology) are one of the only “arthouse” distributors with a significant number of BR releases. (I hope to talk with someone there about their strategy in the upcoming weeks).

And greater demand will no doubt lead to greater competition and better pricing, though with a new technology it is always good to be careful of going too budget. For small projects you can now find Blu-Ray burnable discs for around $15 or less and a burner is about $400. If you have any hot BR tips, share them in the comments.

Infinicine Site Launch Date and Recent News

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

First, my news: LAUNCH DATE 8/8/8 (in keeping with the infinity theme).

Infinicine.com will be a resource for filmmakers and distributors about digital and online distribution. It will be a place to discuss your experiences with different approaches and find out about new developments in the medium. Infinicine.com will cover online distribution including downloads, streaming, download-to-disc, etc. as well as digital theatrical, DVD, Blu-ray, mobile, and satellite technology. Just as importantly, the social side of online distribution will be explored (and even exploited).

There have been all kinds of developments during my posting hiatus. Among them:

Netflix is going to be streaming through the Xbox 360
Amazon has set up the beta of their On Demand streaming service and are working with a majority of studios to deliver content
Apple released the iPhone and approximately three people in America do not have one (but they are in line)
Sony will stream to its Bravia TVs (as will Amazon) and also is providing progressive downloads via the PS3 (allowing users to watch downloading films almost immediately after queuing). They are also working on a new way to transmit HD wirelessly.
SAG still hasn’t settled on internet issues.

You can stay current with the feed to the right- and stay tuned here for much more content in the weeks to come!

"Easy Streaming Movies"

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I want candy, PLEASE.

News Round-Up 6/5/08

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Updates from around the nets:

Time Warner Cable
has created tiered broadband pricing. After 40G of downloads, you will pay extra. An alternative perhaps to net-favouritism strategies like slowing traffic, the plan may impinge the flow of BitTorrent and other piracy-laden file sharing methods. On the other hand, coming just at a time when the market for media online is about to break, the strategy could have retarding consequences. But won’t some other company just come along and offer unlimited access and grab TW’s customer base? I guess they aren’t worried.

Netflix expects to double their subscriber base in the next 10 years, with streaming leading the way- clearly this is the service customers desire. But will this model produce revenue for filmmakers? If Netflix can own serious marketshare (and they are making good inroads) the key will be in the contracts.

Hot on the heels of Netflix’s Roku set-top box release comes the Verismo Box, which allows users to show downloaded content directly on a TV without any computer required. Not only can users watch YouTube, Amazon Unbox, and CinemaNow, but any other media they download from BitTorrent- making it a potential Pirate’s Apple TV.

Of course, soon the kids will just make their own boxes.