Guest Post: Orly Ravid "New and Compelling Options for DIY Distribution"

Orly Ravid co-founded the Film Collaborative and has been providing us with a great series of posts on the changing market and options for independent filmmakers and their work. Her generosity and commitment is an inspiration. She is a brave thinker. Indie Filmmakers used to think that once they made their movies, their only real option was to surrender -- to surrender to the market and the middlemen who decided on a film's applicability to an audience or community. Those days are now gone and good riddance! The services and tools we have to get our work out and on the screens of what has long been under-served under-educated audiences and communities increase every day. As those options expand, so do the choices of content, form, and aesthetic -- we are becoming truly free in terms of how, what, and where we can tell our tales. The sky hasn't fallen; a thousand phoenix have risen.

Today Orly looks at new platforms and toolkits that allow filmmakers to sell or rent their films directly to fans. The Era of Artist/Entrepreneur is here! Now all we have to do is fight for a free and open internet...

In a new media world in which people sometimes conflate distributor with platform and buyer with online/digital store, I want to draw that distinction and highlight a few new and compelling DIY options (platforms or toolkits) for filmmakers to sell or rent their films to audiences / consumers directly. TFC always encourages filmmakers to develop their own brands while also noting the importance of being connected to other brands that generate significant traffic and indie film consumption. In other words, sell direct to your fans off your site and other sites and social networking platforms and/or via other DIY platforms or tools but also recognize the usefulness of being available where average film consumers go, i.e. via Cable VOD if you can manage it, and other key platforms/online digital stores (depending on the nature of the film) such as: Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, Vudu, Hulu, Sony Playstation, Xbox etc.

The few DIY platforms or toolkits highlighted in this blog are: Distrify, EggUp, Groupees, Stonehenge’s iPhone Apps. Next time we cover this topic, we’ll investigate more into DIY platforms FansofFilm and Open Film (7,000 films, 70% shorts).

Let’s begin.

DISTRIFY

Peter Gerard & Andy Green, the co-founders of Distrify, are both filmmakers who formed Distrify. I met with Andy @ SXSW.

Distrify is not a film sales platform - it's a toolset. One can use Distrify to sell a film anywhere on the web and via social media platforms. Once your trailer and film are on Distrify you embed it on your website like http://www.justtogetarep.com/ and Facebook page like https://www.facebook.com/just.to.get.a.rep?sk=app_203403406338325

You can then start telling your film's fans about it and ask them to embed the widget on forums, blogs, websites, etc. 

Distrify's "sell-movies-socially" tools are designed to make effective social media marketing profitable. If your trailer and film are on Distrify, when you share the clip, you're also sharing the store to buy the film or find out about upcoming screenings. When your audience shares it further, you're always spreading the point-of-sale along the way. Anyone who shares it gets paid a share of sales they generate. 

One does not have to start selling through Distrify right away – one can use it to promote screenings and events through the trailer interface. Here's an example of an upcoming Anime release that is using the Distrify player to promote upcoming screenings: http://www.we-loveanime.com/ 

If the film's not available in the user's area, they can make their interest known directly through the player as well. Distrify compiles the statistics for filmmakers and give them the mailing list data - all free. Any new screenings you add are also automatically listed in all the players that have been embedded around the web. And when you want to start selling the film, you can add it as well. 

There are no up-front charges, fully non-exclusive, and they don't need any rights. They take a small transaction fee on sales (see specifics below). In the Beta period it is free to sign up and upload one film to Distrify. They don't charge for uploading or hosting and there is no subscription fee for a Beta account. They do charge a 30% revenue share on sales. They note that their profit “is around 3% to 5% so it's costing us around 25% to deliver the service to the customer. We're working hard to reduce these costs and when we do we'll hand the saving over to the rights holder.” 

Distrify Beta Pricing

  • Free sign-up for a one-film account
  • They charge a 30% transaction fee on all sales made through Distrify
  • They split the 5% affiliate revenue with the filmmaker.
  • Beta users will be given a special offer when they leave the Beta period, and normal account pricing will be determined at that time. And filmmakers keep all their rights.
  • How do you get paid? Each month if you've earned sales revenue they will send you a sales report and transfer your earnings to you directly via PayPal or bank transfer. You may be charged by PayPal or your bank to receive the transfer. When you get your first sales report, they say “just let us know how you prefer to be paid”. What about affiliates?

    “We will soon offer your audience the ability to earn a share of revenues that are generated from their sharing. Once this is enabled they will earn 5% from each sale they refer to you. We are currently offering to split the cost of the revenue-sharing with you. This means we only charge 27.5% on a revenue-shared sale. You keep the remaining 72.5%.”

    Peter Gerard followed up further noting that whilst still in Beta their pricing is FREE to sign up and sell one film and a 30% transaction fee on all sales through their player and there are no costs for special encoding. Their Beta period ends in June and after they will continue this pricing option and offer some premium plans.

    EGG UP

    “EggUp is a publishing platform for filmmakers and film distributors. We help filmmakers and distributors rent and sell their films online while preventing piracy. Our free online publishing tools can help you distribute and sell your film or video which is all packaged and encrypted into a file called the Egg. The Egg is currently available for download and allows consumers to watch and share with friends and family virally while filmmakers are able to make money. With EggUp you get your own website to promote your film, together with an integrated pay per view solution. We also list your films in our film catalog called GoEggit. Distribute the Egg on your own website, and other online retailers with your very own buy now button without setup fees and inventory.”

    Payment options: FREE, Rental, Purchase. Filmmaker will be able to choose several options. Accept Paypal and major credit cards. Customer credit card information does not go through their servers. They only link to the filmmaker's Paypal account. Paypal holds customer's credit card info.

    They are Worldwide and can Geo Filter as needed.

    Content: Currently about 60 films due to focusing on developing technology and negotiating deals with international governments and studios. They will be ramping up pretty quickly in the next 3-5 months with content.

    When I asked about revenue thus far to filmmakers they answered with this: “It really varies since it's up to the filmmakers. Some filmmakers make $0 due to they are not marketing their content or older film with no cult following. While others are getting consistent purchases daily since they have a full marketing strategy including PR pushing their film. It adds up but nothing making millions”.

    EGG UP’s FEES:

  • Full length features: $1.25 per transaction ($2.00 - $1,000.00 retail)
  • Short film: 15% per transaction ($0.99 - $1.99)
  • EggUp noted that they are reviewing their fee structure and may be changing it soon.
  • Egg Up Overview: Image
  • http://i811.photobucket.com/albums/zz38/Egg_Up/EggUP_Overview3.jpg

    Egg Up Filmmaker Benefit: Image http://i811.photobucket.com/albums/zz38/Egg_Up/EggUP_Filmmaker3.jpg

    JON REISS’ GUEST BLOGGER Solomon MacAuley– Raved about EGGUP: http://jonreiss.com/blog/2011/03/03/prevent-film-piracy-and-globally-monetize-instantly/

    SHERI CANDLER interview for MicroFILMMAKER Magazine about EGG UP: http://www.microfilmmaker.com/tipstrick/Issue58/EggDist1.html

    GROUPEES (YAWMA)  groupees.yawma.net & yawma.net

    I was introduced to this platform via TFC client (and HopeForFilm Guest Blogger) Ari Gold (Adventures of Power). Thomas Brooke who demo’d the platform / service via Cisco’s WEBEX. I was impressed with the simplicity and comfort of the interface.

    Thomas Brooke is the Founder and CEO of YAWMA. YAWMA is the social media technology company that operates Groupees. Thomas describes GROUPEES as:

    “A Flash sale (24-48 hr) platform focusing on digital media entertainment (music, games, film)
- Like Groupon in the sense that we're crowd-sourcing but deal isn't dependent on a certain number of users buying and "tipping" the deal; rather we start with the good deal but the content owners set a goal and if achieved it unlocks extra exclusive content (to incentivize users to work as a group and spread the promo through their social graph)
- There is a high degree of Facebook and Twitter integration so purchases spread virally
- Flexible SaaS based system supporting product bundling, multiple pricing options (fixed price, pay what you want), inclusion of charity, etc. We've set Groupees up as an on demand platform where content creators/licensors sign up to run a single promotion, all of which is configured through a web interface. It is a platform by invitation only- we're sourcing quality independent music, games and film.”

    Their next Groupee starts on Wednesday so if you go to: http://groupees.yawma.net you will see the promo vid and count-down clock now live.

    Here is a screenshot and the model we're using for projections on Music groupees.

    FEES: The model split is reflected at 60-40% (in favor of filmmakers).

    When I asked why they were more expensive as Apple (which takes 30%) Thomas answered:

    “While it is true that Apple takes 30%, they don't do anything for their 30% beyond providing a distribution system. Fact is we're not just a point of distribution. We're pretty sophisticated technology with a high degree of customization, strong FB and Twitter integration and 100% pr support (strongly question this, what do they mean by 100% PR support?) for every promotion we run. Groupon is really a better business analogy, and they take 50% but have nowhere near the social media integration or customization features. I do appreciate your asking whether to make mention but I'm certainly comfortable with this.”

    “In terms of film/video, we can support straight download in any format and also video streaming. As mentioned, the service requires buyers to register so all files are secured behind a firewall. I think for indie film the concept of bundling films from different film-makers might work very well as it provides good cross promotion and from the consumer's perspective allows you to get two cool films from a single purchasing experience. Definitely one of the premises of our platform is convenience as people are overwhelmed by our digitally connected world so by featuring quality indie entertainment as a part of a single promotion, consumers get the benefit of a curated good deal on relevant media/entertainment. I think also there is an opportunity to bundle films with music, especially where there's a good thematic connection. Obviously, a soundtrack with a film is a no-brainer as well. We're also currently looking at possibly bundling a video game that is from the horror genre with a horror film. “

    Groupee Platform Features

  • -Support for all digital media formats -Support both video download and streaming -Web-interface for creating and configuring the Groupees promotion -E-payments through PayPal and Amazon payments -Live World map that tracks purchases as they occur around the globe -Facebook and Twitter integration so purchases spread virally -Real time sales statistics and reporting -Flexible promotional programs including Fixed Price or Pay What You Want payments, charitable giving, cross-promotional bundles, goal setting with incentive giveaways -Cloud-based, highly scalable platform capable of supporting 1,000,000 downloads per 24 hrs
  • .

    STONEHENGE – Distributing films worldwide via Phone Apps -- FilmApps...Get Your Film in More Hands

    Stonehenge Productions enables film producers to sell their films on iTunes, Android Market and Amazon Appstore as applications for the iPhone, iPad and for Droid platforms. Their pitch: “With a low start-up cost of just $680, you can have an application of your film available on Phones everywhere !! You keep 100% of sales revenues minus the 30% that Apple charges.” What do you get for $680?

  • An iPhone FilmApp Embedded film in the App (better than streaming) About page/synopsis Twitter/FB/Email (Sharing) integration, A merchandise page for users to buy merchandise, DVD…(e.g. Amazon) Links to the film’s/director’s site (opens within the App) A trailer/video clip viewer (user can watch the trailer, clips, outtakes, behind the scenes) Photo gallery of shots from the film an RSS/News feed for any feed you would like to provide. Custom Graphic design and layout (using your art). Turn around is typically two weeks and then 7-10 days at Apple. Got other ideas? Let us know what you’d like
  • How? Contact Stonehenge Productions and we’ll provide you with further instructions to upload your content. It will then be turned into a customized application. You’ll get final review and you’ll continue to hold all rights to the film. We’ll submit it to Apple and manage the whole selling process through the App store OR we’ll put it on the Android Market or Amazon Appstore.

    A Stonehenge Sales Sheet: http://www.stonehengeproductions.com/sales-sheet/

    Mark Smillie of Stonehenge notes “we are really working hard to build FilmApps that encourage participation over the lifecycle of the film...so pre-release to build awareness and fan base, at release to drive fans to the theater and post release to sell the film through the App channel.”“We build for Apple, Android and sell on the iTunes, Droid and Amazon app stores.”  

    Their latest press release for our App for the film: Race to Nowhere.  It's a good example of a social activism app paired with a film App.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5193274.htm

    Another testimonial Mark showed me is from John Paul Rice of “One Hour Fantasy Girl” "Apps for films work: Itunes report for One Hour Fantasy Girl in Q4 2010, rental/downloads up 558% over Q3. Credit goes to @WeGoTo11"  John Paul Rice President No Restrictions Entertainment from Twitter:https://twitter.com/norestrictions/status/53291871367200768

    * That’s all for now folks. More platforms and tools and DIY solutions next time.

    Orly Ravid has worked in film acquisitions / sales / direct distribution and festival programming for the last twelve years since moving to Los Angeles from home town Manhattan. In January 2010, Orly founded The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit devoted to film distribution of independent cinema. Orly runs TFC w/ her business partner, co-exec director Jeffrey Winter.