Archive for the ‘online markets’ Category

Can Fandor Make Indie Film Profitable Online?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Reaching the niche market of independent film fans has been a goal for a number of online film platforms. Fandor is the newest entry in the contest. Launched late last year by Jonathan Marlow from GreenCine and ‘serial entrepreneur’ Dan Aronson, Fandor is getting buzz for offering a large selection of curated titles at a $10/month subscription fee. Unlike Netflix, which pays a fee based on a contracted license period, Fandor offers a per-use model in which 20% of revenues are divided among the filmmakers regardless of plays and 30% are split based on an “attention algorithm” which presumably measures the amount of time people spend watching each film, perhaps accounting somehow for how long each film is. In any case, what that means, if we were considering gross revenues (which perhaps is not the case), if Fandor has 50,000 subscribers, you would be looking at a base of $33/month for your film to be on the service.

Netflix has 20 million members, so perhaps Fandor has room to grow. On the other hand, MUBI, formerly The Auteurs, seems to have stalled a bit and sites like IndieFlix have never really caught on in the mainstream. Fandor is betting on a specialty audience and a editorial viewpoint to draw people to the site.

There is no reason not to place a film on Fandor if you are selling to Netflix, and even if you don’t make a Netflix sale, Fandor touts that they will carry a wide selection of films Netflix doesn’t have. Will independent film fans pony up? And will there be enough cinephiles to make it worth it?

Free movies, only not that many

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

A few weeks ago, Snag Films announced, by way of their subsidiary media outlet indieWIRE, that they had just closed an exciting deal with Cinetic Rights Management that would add over a hundred films to their catalogue and (in a curious bit of math) “add hundreds” more films to the documentary sharing widget’s playlist.

Cinetic has been very aggressive in their placement of films, and if one looks at the various online film channels and markets, the fruits of their labour are evident. Joost, Jaman, Hulu, Snag, Amazon, Netflix Watch Instantly, E-Z Takes and others are all flush with the riches of Cinetic filmy goodness. The same titles, in fact, on most of these online venues are featured (primarily because Cinetic seems to be repping a handful of high-profile catalogue titles and a host of things that no one has ever heard of).

This wouldn’t be so noticeable if so few other “independent” distributors had come in quite so vigorously. Magnolia and IFC are making a push; as VOD distributors already, going to the internet for some beta distribution there seems natural. Criterion is online on their own site / The Auteurs, but isn’t sullying itself so far by spreading out into ad-supported channels and other free options. Right now, free is largely owned by studios, TV, and Cinetic.

But are free channels like Joost appealing if the selection is limited? Have you come across free movie sites with more selection of quality film? Does something like The Auteurs fill this niche, or Jaman? Do enough people really care about independent film to make it viable and profitable in an ad-supported model? Can Cinetic make money if they are competing with themselves?

Online Markets for Films updated

Monday, January 19th, 2009

The Online Markets that Pay section has been updated. Have you had experience selling your film online as a download, rental, or with ad-supported content? Do you think this model will really work for independent filmmakers? Are there sites you have found (that pay) that aren’t on this list?

Variety: the digital revolution doesn't pay

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Variety reported last week that the digital distribution “revolution” is starting to seem more like the Seven Year’s War as filmmakers and distributors see little to no revenue online.  While there have been a few highly-trumpeted success stories, even the most advised course of non-exclusive deals with a number of high-profile online markets can yield little in the way of revenue for independent filmmakers without the marketing and exposure of a big theatrical or television release.

There are two points to take away- number one, think about traditional media first.  Don’t ignore online & VOD but make sure your higher-yield ducks are in a row first.  Two, consider your online marketing as a separate entity.  Your film may not have the cache of SLACKER but if you are able to offer an online market an exclusive extra it may make the property more valuable to them, which could result in a better deal or increased promotion.

Content is King?- Panel at DIY Days takes on the outlets

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Highlighting the eternal “this is my art” versus “this is a product” tension that is only getting more acute as online markets grow (and do not necessarily make more money per film), this discussion from the recent DIY Days isn’t exactly new info, but it does give a sense of what some issues are for filmmakers.

The somewhat deer-in-the-headlights initital reaction of the audience to Arin Crumley‘s demand to know what filmmakers need in the digital distribution realm I think is pretty reflective of where we’re at right now.  Also, small point, I don’t think Current TV is the only one following the online –> TV acquisition model- SuperU was one that came to mind.

Gigantic shows films online

Friday, October 24th, 2008

indieWIRE reports that Gigantic Releasing has launched a new online distrubution service. Gigantic Digital will charge $2.99 for 3-days of online viewing of feature films day-and-date as well as free content from their library.  The films will be ad-free and high quality, and possibly exclusive to this site, at least for some period of time.

INTERVIEW- Online Markets –

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Indiepix has gone in a few directions over the last couple of years. The latest is a partnership with SnagFilms, Ted Leonsis‘s widget-based monetized documentary player and a production end, Indiepix Studios. They are also staffed by very dedicated, delightful young people.

[I]nfinicine: What services are offered on your site?

[IP] Indiepix:
DVD Sale
Download to own
Download to disc

[I]: What is the structure of the deal, i.e. flat fee, percentage of sale, ad revenue, etc. Provide terms if possible.

[IP]: We do not give advances, but we do all the design, production, manufacturing and marketing. The filmmaker receives a flat 60% of all the revenue.

[I]: Does your service sell into all territories?

[IP]: Yes, it does. It depends on which ones the filmmaker(s) opt for.

[I]: How many people visit the site? How many are “members”? How many sales on average per title? What are the top-selling titles?


120K visitors, 30K members. It is hard to say an average, sales range from hundreds to tens of thousands.

[I]: What is the marketing strategy for the site? Why will customers purchase or rent from your site as opposed to other similar sites?

[IP]: Each of our “spotlight” films is catered to individually. So, for example, for one film we will do viral marketing, set up event screenings to sell DVDs, plan release parties, promote in email, blasts, newsletters, and at festivals, while for others we will make postcards and buy ads in independent magazines. We work very closely with the filmmaker to strategize about marketing and promotion.

[I]: Can individual filmmakers sell to the site?

[IP]: Yes, of course.

INTERVIEW- Online Markets-

Monday, August 4th, 2008

As part of the ongoing series of online markets, Infinicine presents an interview with Charles Choi from, a streaming and download service that specializes in independent film and is friendly to independent filmmakers.

[I]nfinicine: What services are offered on your site?

[C]aachi: Streaming online - We provide high resolution (700Kbps) streams of the films we offer. This enables a high-quality viewing experience.
Download to own – the films distributed in this fashion are “DRM free”, to provide the greatest user flexibility in viewing.
Download to disc – Films downloaded from Caachi can be burned directly to DVD or installed in a video iPod/iPhone.

[I]: What is the structure of the deal, i.e. flat fee, percentage of sale, ad revenue, etc. Provide terms if possible.


  • Distributors keep 75% of the sales revenue, with no expenses deducted
  • Caachi partners with distributors on a non-exclusive basis
  • There is no minimum time commitment
  • We can restrict sales to geographic regions (based on IP filtering technology)
  • Choose to sell your films as: 1. downloaded video, 2. streaming online, or 3. both
  • The terms can be found here

[I]: Does your service sell into all territories?

[C]: By default, our service sells into all territories but can be restricted to countries using IP filtering technology.

[I]: How many people visit the site? How many are “members”? How many sales on average per title? What are the top-selling titles?

[C]: For the month of July, 2008 we had around 50,000 unique visits, a 76% increase from May, 2008.

Our top grossing titles are as follows: 1. Tripping with Caveh, 2. Venus Lives, 3. Dreams on Spec, 4. Preaching to the Perverted, 5. Dat Kho

[I]: What is the marketing strategy for the site? Why will customers purchase or rent from your site as opposed to other similar sites?

[C]: We sell films by using targeted online marketing techniques involving social networks and Web 2.0 technologies. Customers will buy films from Caachi because they understand that most of their payment will go to the filmmaker or distributor and not to Caachi.

[I]: What are the marketing opportunities for films on the site?

[C]: At Caachi, we recognize that that our films must be actively marketed online to reach their audiences. To this end, we do the following today:

  • Caachi has an affiliate program which allows 3rd party blogs and other websites to help promote a film by placing an advertisement about that film on their website. A 20% sales commission is given to the affiliate, which is taken from the distributor share. Distributors can opt-out of the affiliate program.
  • Caachi feeds trailers of distributor’s films to multiple UGC video sites and social networks such as YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.
  • We send periodic mailings to registered users to let them know about our offerings.
  • We do targeted marketing to social networks for a select number of films in our library.
  • In the near-future we intend to develop tools and widgets to allow filmmakers and distributors self-market their films through our website to social networks and blogs.

[I]: Can individual filmmakers sell to the site?

[C]: Yes.