I don't know about you, but I am pretty astounded by all the opportunities before us for Direct Distribution. If you recall, I have listed 32 different Platforms and Tools that filmmakers can now utilize. One such tool is the MoPix. I am excited that the Truly Free Film Community is coming together to try inform each other of what works (or doesn't) in this plethora of riches. Today, one of the producers from the great experiment in both Free & Crowdfunding, The Tunnel, is here to tell you about the mobile & tablet App building tool MoPix. Ladies & Gentlemen, Enzo Tedeschi:
Distributing The Tunnel as an iPad app using MoPix.
In making and distributing The Tunnel, my co-producer Julian Harvey and I have broken a few traditions. In fact we kinda threw out the playbook, from crowdfunding by selling off the frames of the film, to direct-distributing as much as possible, as globally as possible, and as close to a day-and-date release as possible. Our theory was simple - if our audience could find our film simultaneously on as many platforms as we could muster, the film would have its best chance at success. And one global platform that seems to be growing in audience at a rapid rate is the iPad.
Pricing up the development of a custom mobile app in Australia was discouraging. At $10,000 - $20,000 AUD to get it done properly, that was simply not going to happen on our paltry budget.
We were only a few weeks out from release when we heard about MoPix – and we got excited. These guys had built a platform for iPad, iPhone, and Android that would enable us to create an app to distribute The Tunnel directly via the App Store.
Talking to Ryan Stoner at MoPix, we were able to get in during their beta stage, and in a matter of weeks we had a custom-branded app that did everything we needed it to. The Tunnel was now going to be the first Australian film ever to be , and we were going to be able to do it alongside our other release platforms.
The process from our end was actually quite painless, and involved cropping a few images to size and sending those and the video assets over to MoPix. An iPad app came out the other side.
The benefits for us seemed obvious – the film was presented in a very slick way, completely branded so that it felt like OUR product, not theirs, and we could circumvent the pain that just about every indie filmmaker knows – trying to get our film into the iTunes store. The feature set was simple, but had everything it needed to feature an equivalent to our DVD extras. It also let us add a really slick behind-the-scenes photo gallery, which gave us a point of difference from all the other avenues in which the film was available.
If you think about the marketing and distribution of your film in the long term - which we always try to – App updates also create a way for you to keep your audience active. Soon, we’ll be updating the Tunnel app to include in-app purchases. This feature is great for two reasons. First, it enables us to keep selling content to our audience who have already purchased the app. Someone who has already put money on the table for your film is far more likely to keep buying, than someone who hasn’t invested at all. Secondly, when we push out the update, the act of downloading it to see what features have been added creates another interaction with our audience. It’s another small part of the ongoing conversation we’ve been having with our fans since the beginning – even before we had a film.
And while we’re on the subject of marketing – another thing that an app can do for you brilliantly is combine your marketing and distribution into one.
For our next project, we’ll be going back to MoPix to create an app that, unlike The Tunnel, is free to download. The audience will still need to buy the film in order to watch it, but we will create a free app with compelling media-rich content which basically serves as marketing material for the film, which will then be accessible via the in-app purchasing mechanism. Once again, if you can get your audience engaging with your ‘brand’ – your film – they are much more likely to part with their hard-earned.
I will say though, that being in the beta stage, it’s not a perfect solution just yet. It would be cool to see some more platforms integrated, like logging into GetGlue while they are watching The Tunnel on their iPad. But knowing how switched on the guys over at MoPix are, I’m sure they’re working on it. For now the ability to tweet a photo from the gallery, for example, or post it on Facebook directly from the app works great.
MoPix are currently still looking for films for their beta slate – and even though we haven’t set the world on fire with sales of our app just yet, we’ve sold more than enough units for the endeavour to have paid for itself. All in all it has been very worthwhile.
Enzo Tedeschi is co-founder of Distracted Media along with Julian Harvey. Together they wrote, produced and edited The Tunnel - a project whose innovative approach has seen it hit international cinema screens despite being crowdfunded and given away for free online.
Before Distracted Media, Enzo co-produced and edited the controversial independent feature documentary Food Matters in 2008, a film which is still enjoying success around the globe, having now sold over 200,000 DVDs. He produced and cut the epic World War 1 period film Ghosts of War, and the award-winning short The Last One with director Carlo Ledesma.
As an ASE Award nominated editor, Enzo has worked on numerous television series, documentaries and award-winning short films. Recently he edited and oversaw the post-production path on Channel Nine's observational documentary series AFP for Zapruder’s Other Films.