Diary of a Film Startup Part 13: Indie Film Inspiration

By Roger Jackson

First Looks
This is an important week for KinoNation. Well, every week is crucial for a startup, but this feels extra critical. We’re submitting our first tranche of films to several video-on-demand platforms. We haven’t finished the dashboard for our VoD partners yet -- that’s scheduled for December -- so the submission process is old school. That is, we’re sending them a spreadsheet with details of films, trailer, IMDb link, festivals & awards, and the all-important written pitch. The results & feedback from these submission -- whether VoD platforms accept 10% or 30% or 65% of the films we show them -- will give us the early data we need to solidify our business model. I’ll keep you posted.


Upload to the Big Screen
I’ve been to talking to an impressive and innovative company in the UK called Kinopto. They’re in the business of providing high-quality digital cinema systems that are very affordable for even small movie theaters. And therefore can be deployed at rapid scale. Without giving away too much, we’re discussing a deal whereby an indie film uploaded to KinoNation can be selected by a movie theater, downloaded into the Kinopto system, and be playing to a live cinema audience. That would be exciting, I think.


Films In
I have a Google spreadsheet called “films in”. Remarkable, I think, that after just 3 months we have almost 100 feature films in our library, from 11 countries. More films are submitted every day, and then uploaded to our cloud storage system. Here are a few samples from the past week: Linda Nelson of Indie Rights submitted Char•ac•ter, a fascinating doc about the craft of acting, featuring the last ever interview with the late Sydney Pollack. Grace Rowe submitted I Am That Girl, an award-winning feature about the intersection of credit cards, debt, work and love. And a quirky but interesting doc about arcade game fanatics -- The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time, which should find its audience in the VoD ecosystem. Keep submitting films, please, to our Beta Launch. It takes less than 5 minutes.


Power of the Pitch
One of the lessons I’ve learned is the critical importance of the “pitch” for each film. This is the short, passionate, pithy text that is intended to “sell” a film to a VoD platform. That is, convince them the movie will find an audience. Crucially, this is NOT the film tagline or synopsis or long description. Instead, it’s why this film will perform. Get rented. Or get watched on an ad platform. In short, it’s the sales pitch. Why is the subject matter compelling, right now? Who’s in the film? Festivals? Awards? Press quotes. Whatever you have that is real and verifiable and attention grabbing. Your pitch, coupled with your trailer, is a big part of each VoD platform’s accept or reject decision. Worth some thought.


Next Up: Post # 14: Early Results

Roger Jackson is a producer and the co-founder of film distribution start-up KinoNation. He was Vice President, Content for digital film pioneer iFilm.com and has produced short films in Los Angeles, documentaries in Darfur, Palestine and Bangladesh, a reality series for VH1 and one rather bad movie for FuelTV. You can reach him at roger@kinonation.com.