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Fair and explotitive distribution revenues available to indie filmmakers

Psychomanteum - Our self-financed independent portmanteau psychological horror film consisting of several very different tales of terror from the UK is now available for purchase on Vimeo On Demand from £0.76 to rent and less than £2 to buy.

vimeo.com/ondemand/psychomanteum

Dozens of ShootingPeople members contributed incredibly generously both in front and behind the camera to enable this film to be made, support the British film industry by buying British independently produced films to enable further films to be made, with training and opportunities to UK talent and creatives.

Please note that Vimeo gives contributing filmmakers 90% of all sales as opposed to Amazon that only gives filmmakers a measly 6% and don't even get me started on YouTube (benchmark to earn, stuffing your films full of annoying ads, poor video viewing quality due to high compression rates).

Also Vimeo pay you every month, others quarterly or yearly or never it seems.

Vimeo supply you when paying you with statiscal information that is clear and extremely useful when trying to build a viable business, others obsticate and the sales stats and what they do provide in my humble opinion is completely useless.

I would love to hear everyones thoughts on this and also any other fair profit share distribution revenue options presently available to the indie filmmaking community please?

Ray Brady
www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

  • So, Vimeo "gives" you 90 percent of the net, but charges conversion fees (last I saw, they take all the money in dollars, so if you're outside the dollar zone, you lose out.) And, they usually pay through systems that charge additional fees (Paypal's processing fees and so on). They also charge an annual fee for the privilege of being with them.

    There used to be a competitor that was like Vimeo without the annual fee, but vimeo bought them up. The competitor also allowed you to sell the movies from your own website, rather than registering with Vimeo and all that (it was more of a video host and processing facility, but only charged ten percent, no membership fee.) Hopefully, Amazon won't buy up vimeo.

    But, Amazon is a predator, and it's probably only a matter of time before Google, Microsoft, or Amazon buys Vimeo.

    The problem with all online distribution is the lack of a Nielsen ratings system, or independent audit of any kind. You basically have to trust them that they're being honest about how many people bought your stuff or saw your trailer. At least with ebay and physical delivery, you know who bought your stuff, because you have to deliver it.

    Big companies like Disney create their own online distribution systems because they know they'll get cheated otherwise.

    2 months ago
  • Hi Vasco, Yes I fully appreciate there are some inherent costs and deductions to be made and take into account from the 90% but...90% v 6% (minus Amazons inherent costs and deductions (Paypal fee deductions or bank transfer costs etc) from the 6% they are offering...come on now, they're not even in the same ballpark when it comes to making comparisions? Also, importantly what other better alternatives can you suggest please or is this the best deal available?

    2 months ago
    • Hi Ray, It depends on scale.

      Basically, as much as people attack distributors, if you can find one that's better. Producer, director, writer and actors get residuals for tv screenings. Yes, some films never make a paper profit, but there are advances that cover production costs.

      At a certain level, you can host your own films. And, there's always the option of selling physical copies direct from your website.

      Amazon is pretty rubbish. But, some microbudget and near-microbudget films have made it to itunes and elsewhere.

      2 months ago
  • OK let me try and breakdown and respond to your reply Vasco.

    "Basically, as much as people attack distributors, if you can find one that's better."

    Better than what please, selling via Vimeo?

    "Producer, director, writer and actors get residuals for tv screenings."

    Yes that is true if you have made a sale to a broadcastor, which is not the case here.


    "Yes, some films never make a paper profit,"

    ? Where did this point come from please?


    "but there are advances that cover production costs."

    Are you talking about a funded/financed movie? Again this is not relevant to my question Vasco.

    "At a certain level, you can host your own films. And, there's always the option of selling physical copies direct from your website."

    Sorry but been there seen it done it and I know that it doesn't work and importantly it requires far more expense outlay after the film is finished, I used to have my own DVD lable over ten years ago now i.e. BBFC certification, creating artwork and authoring blue rays & DVD's, publicity materials and promotion all were very expensive, then finding a reputable trade wholeseller. I once personally lost over twenty thousand pounds worth of DVD stock when my DVD wholeseller went bankrupt and into liquidation.

    "Amazon is pretty rubbish. But, some microbudget and near-microbudget films have made it to itunes and elsewhere."

    Hmmm...and how much do iTunes pay out per centage wise
    and what do they take off the top of sales before money gets to the filmmakers. Importantly...

    "elsewhere"

    but this was my original question Vasco, what are the alternatives. I was looking for alternatives and tried and tested return rates.

    It would be great if anyone out there that has actually made, financed and sold independent features that has actual personal experiences of income in from sales made would please join in this conversation as pages of vaguries are writen on this list and many others all the time but rarely by those that have the actual sales return figures to hand that they managed to make them on their films?

    2 months ago
    • Hey, how come it lets you edit your replies and not me? Are you a moderator on this website?

      2 weeks ago
    • @vasco de sousa
      I haven't edited anything and no I am not a moderator

      2 weeks ago
  • Hello all,

    I can give you the real world perspective on the above as I deal with all this daily. I have what is effectively a studio's worth of content which I'm constantly trying to promote behind what we've got coming next. This isn't speculation, I make and distribute content. I also run a film festival and see how much people waste on production costs over marketing musts. At this level returns are poor but the game is creating a bigger platform for your brand. Self-distribution options are limited without serious hard work and on trend, real world experience which, incidentally, only comes from having product to actually push.

    I've made 13 no budget indie feature films since 2010 and pursued all avenues of online distribution from the get go. To broaden my presence and brand I also started the Nightpiece Film Festival in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and since 2014 I have presented over 250 films in 5 years (including Ray's film 'Afraid of the Dark' - part of Psychomanteum - this August).

    Amazon is a gateway to massive exposure and if you're not using it you are simply missing a trick. Give up earning a decent return on it - economies of scale operate here, it won't happen. It's not rubbish by any stretch. It's a key component to any modern film distribution plan you just have to learn how to harness it. You really can't argue when IMDb becomes a point of sale and clicks thru to your film. Amazon offers you a monetised method of distribution for free provided you have closed captions and can upload basic media assets. £0.04p per hour streamed is horrendously poor but you can choose your selling options and in 2018 your respective film needs exposure more than anything else. Bypassing the biggest movie and retail sites on the planet just doesn't make sense.

    Obviously to go through Vimeo on Demand you need Vimeo Pro and that costs $199 a year. You don't need closed captions to sell your film here but CC exposes your film to countless more markets. The key USP for Vimeo though is you can just sell it.

    Currently 12 of my features are available on Vimeo on Demand and the last 4 of my features are available on Amazon Prime. Amazon has multiple divisions. Without multiple CC translations (79 min film = $79 cost for CC via rev.com) you're stuck on Amazon UK and Amazon US but the outreach of Amazon and the IMDb association make it an absolute no-brainer to not have your film on this platform.

    The last 4 films are also out there on lots of US streaming sites you've never heard. They've reached these sites with distribution via Filmhub.com
    This site is in it's relative infancy but their goal
    is clear and they have had a significant impact on our figures.

    If your film is actually selling Amazon pay monthly directly to your bank and Vimeo pay monthly via PayPal. On paper Vimeo offers a better deal but it's outreach is nominal compared to Amazon and you still might lose 30% to US Tax even after you've filled out the W-8BEN (US Tax form).

    Since September 2017, we've accrued about £50 in net royalites from Amazon across 3 titles (4th th'dread rattlin' only goes up on Amazon UK on 31st October).
    The releases came out September 2017 /May 2018 /August 2018 /October 2018. Some months royalties have been pennies, others pounds, sometimes even double figures but they've dripped in since January and each film has got bigger in popularity.

    On Amazon,'Tara Reata' has streamed 11,609 minutes since it's Aug 21st release. This equates to 154 odd viewings; nothing much but if they were 154 buys at ¢4.99 you'd have something to smile about.

    Once you start releasing on Amazon you need to keep making more content available as this snowballs interest and gives you a landing page. The films are popular for around 6-8 weeks then fade without a new product or marketing push that piques further interest.

    On Vimeo in the same period (since Dec 2017), 7 titles have made a paltry 20 rentals to the tune of exactly $36.79 (gross revenue) in rentals.

    Finallly, on 'Tara Reata' alone Filmhub are currently reporting $9.72 in estimated revenue since August. I haven't had a payout from this site yet but they pay
    quarterly and we're in an interim overlap period.

    Those are brutal real world figures of how crap streaming land is. iTunes is 70/30 split and is a time consuming and expensive process that ultimately needs you to sell early to rise in sales rankings and go up the store pyramid. With an aggregator or not it still involves a QC'ed film from an Apple approved encoding house (eg. BitMax) and this costs £££ making it a pointless enquiry for the unfunded distributor.

    If you want an immediate return on your film, run a screening and sell tickets!

    Hope that info might help!

    Al Carretta

    www.imdb.com/name/nm3428843/

    2 months ago
  • Hi Al,
    I've tried hiring cinema's and selling tickets, "four walling" as its known, rarely made a penny after costs of the cinema hire, always expensive since they could be doing a screening of the latest blockbuster movie release so the hire rates understandibly need to allow for what the cinema screen usually would be earning them. Also it's only worth doing a limited theatrical release if your prepared to heavily promote by, attending each screening and doing a Q&A, weeks in advance orgainizing local radio and press to do tie-in stories to promote your event. Your main costs are for travel and accomodation and the screen hire which all equates to, even with quite high or sold out attendance you just breaking even. In reference to Amazon, I agree that if you can repeatedly make and release films, you can build a following, but you need to stick to the same genre or at the very least a consistant unique style. With a bit of luck all the hard work will enable you to contimually improve and hopefully get to the point where you start making direct sales from your own website or from Vimeo, better still reach the level where either Amazon or Netflix or whatever will agree to buy your film lockstock as several filmmakers I know have done this and received the best payouts that they've ever had from their films. I've to have several films available to buy on Amazon, some for several years and agree that the income that comes in from them is quite pittyful, but if you managed to have a hit it's then that you'll make money from having them up there. Just having them up on there doesn't mean anything if people don't know they are there or are interested in searching and watching them, you have to create a demand someway to drive purchases and sales as Amazon do nothing to promote small (low-budget) indie films at the moment but hopefully that too might change in the future along with the tiny proportion precentages on sales that they are presently paying you for you content.
    Ray Brady
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    2 months ago
  • Hi Ray, it's all interesting stuff and a good discussion to have. I see lots of filmmakers with product who don't see that (on this level) self-promotion is now the future and cost-cutting is a must. The key I'm always looking for is value; my marketing spend on all 13 films effectively stands at zero. I looked at cinema hire with Cineworld and Odeon back in 2010 when I'd made my first feature and decided the fees and requirements were cost ineffective when I could hire a theatre and put in a projector and fastfold screen for less. This directly influenced my decision to launch Nightpiece Film Festival in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In the future, I feel whichever cinema chain starts embracing the filmmaking community and offers their respective theatres in an accessible hire package will become the future of the indie game in a click.

    Al

    2 months ago
  • Whilst this conversation is well informed by all of its contributors personal experiences and knowledge, it would be presumptuous to assert that any one of or even all of the realities posited and declared are definitive.

    "one ought not take ones own case for a generality"

    2 months ago
  • Nice one John. Very true indeed sir.
    Several people have made low budget features, got picked and distributed in cinemas and made a fortune or at least gave themselves huge careers boosts. "Paranormal Activity" for one, "Tangerine" another, the right film at the right time discovered and picked up by the right distributor, anything can happen.

    2 months ago
  • Hi All,

    These are the other key VoD distributors I haven't yet mentioned. Distribber and Quiver cost mega money. Quiver for example will pitch to Netflix for you for an extra $1500 but realistically just at basic level you are looking at $1000 - $2000 spends to go through these channels but Hulu and iTunes will be top of the distro list. Indie Rights charge no up-front fees with 80% return to the filmmaker but aren't on the scale of the others.

    You can work directly with Apple if you have enough content, e.g.more than 5 features and a US Tax ID but you'll still spend £££ on an Apple approved encoding house like BitMax so you're best to go through aggregators without a catalog of films.

    Distribber
    www.distribber.com

    Quiver Digital
    www.quiverdigital.com

    Indie Rights/Nelson Madison Films
    www.indierights.com/indiefilmdistributio...

    iTunes
    www.apple.com/uk/itunes/working-itunes/s...

    So, if you've got money to step up your VoD game the above is where you go...but it might not make you any more money.

    Al Carretta

    2 months ago
  • Say your indie film sells to Netflix for 100,000K ($ that is) sounds great but they used to out pay out $20K adavance on deliveribles and then the rest over four payments per year quarter, now changed to the same advance but the rest of the $80K over three years in twelve payments, so not as sweet as before. On top of that they would demand to have first bite of the VOD cherry (beofre release on other platforms as mentioned ref above by Al (by the way great input/work Al), sometimes demanding a window of six to twelve months beofre allowing you to release on other platforms. The only way around this is that they either commision your film or you win Sundance or similar i.e. Cannes, venice, Toronto or fill out film theatres for weeks, then they will come at you with serious money but again, paid over several years now, on the plus side they will most probably green light and fully finance your next couple of projects.

    2 months ago
    • Hi Ray, if you don't mind me asking, how has Vimeo On Demand been working for you? I'm guessing it's too soon to say with your current movie but have you used it before for your previous projects?

      I've been researching, reaching out to people in different film making communities who self distribute, asking how Vimeo has worked, or not, for them.

      As you've said I agree it's the best percentage out there for us (even with all the fees) and in theory I want to funnel my target audiences direct to Vimeo to rent or buy first, especially for the first month or so, before moving the movie onto other platforms where the percentage is not as good. I want to capitalise on the bigger return possible first, which on paper, Vimeo seems to be.

      The only problem I've been finding out, and it's overwhelming, that people just don't seem to want to purchase via Vimeo.
      I've never purchased using Vimeo myself and I don't know anyone else who has, but I'm sure people do.

      It's frustrating because Vimeo are very generous but the general responses I've been getting are:
      It's difficult to drive people to Vimeo.
      Google searches are poor, their films show up in other ways but occasionally not for Vimeo.
      Even with targeted marketing to their lists they make hardly anything as no one makes the leap to purchase, but on Amazon they get far better results, even though the pay structure is nowhere near as generous.

      I'm still going to try Vimeo OD, maybe not in the same way I mentioned above, but it can still be utilised as an extra revenue stream.

      Good luck with your project and I sincerely hope you get good results on Vimeo, I really want to hear some positive (profitable) responses for that platform!

      2 months ago
    • @PHILIP WEST
      Every sale I made through Vimeo, I drove there myself. After I did a blog post linking to it, the purchases came in. When I didn't promote, nothing.

      Vimeo claimed that my trailer had many hundreds of plays to each purchase. So maybe my trailer sucked? Or, maybe it was their payment system (one of my customers complained that it was extremely difficult to use.)

      VHX I bought from. That was easy to use. Vimeo, no. Vimeo bought VHX, ruined it.

      90 percent? Not really, they nickel and dimed me with other fees. What do they do for that 10 percent (it doesn't even include taxes, conversion fees, payment processing, plus you're paying for hosting)? Not a lot.

      2 months ago
    • @vasco de sousa
      That's good you got sales after directing traffic to your film.
      So would you say, if you kept up the marketing and kept driving traffic to your film on Vimeo, it would be doing well for you, especially if you're keeping roughly 90%?

      I would argue taking 90 percent from each sale is fantastic. After all you're using their platform, the payment gateway etc. I'd happily pay 10% for that, plus the little extras, especially if it's paying off (that seems to be crux of it all).
      I sell a lot on eBay and people complain about their fees, but their platform gives me access to selling worldwide, which is fantastic. Everything has a cost, unfortunately, it just needs to be factored in.

      I didn't realise Vimeo bought VHX, I did pay once using VHX and that was easy enough.
      Doesn't sound good if the same can't be said for paying via Vimeo.

      2 months ago
  • Hi Philip,
    Apologies for my tardy response I been away attending and screening my latest feature Psychomanteum at the Festival of Fantastic Films Manchester. I can not figure out from his info on ShootingPeople and his imdb.com film CV/Profile data what exactly Vasco has been supposedly selling on Vimeo, can you, care to please quantify Vasco? I have been selling short and feature-length films on Vimeo and made actual sales and real experience to share rather than hypothetical fantasy information. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when giving advise I find it reproachable to offer it when is not backed up by real-world facts and experience.
    Please DM Philip and I will share.
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    1 month ago
    • Ray,
      I don't waste a lot of money on IMDB qualifying festivals or vanity IMDB pages. I sold Dara Says and United States and Ukraine on Vimeo years ago.

      Your buddy John Lubran doesn't have much of an IMDB page, but as he's not Latin, your racist mouth doesn't question him.

      As for numbers, two fingers. It's between me and anyone I have financial dealings with.

      1 month ago
  • Racist?
    "United States" and "Ukraine" what are these, where are they mentioned anywhere but in your reply and me here questioning their reality. How many votes by imdb.com members does "Dara Says" have, so you didn't show it at any festivals, but was it simply that it wasn't accepted by any film festivals? Has anyone actually seen it? Is it as dirivitive as your masterpiece "His Palm is Itchy", whcih seems to be the only film that I can find, a short so very much like an excerpt of South Park the Movie? Oh...and you could be the most rude person I have had the displeasure of encountering online.

    1 month ago
  • PS My ex-wife was Indian and my daughter is half indian.
    I not rascist I just do not like unqualified people answering questions made to me, for me. I do not express to be an expert but I do have experience which I am willing to share.
    "Hi Ray, if you don't mind me asking, how has Vimeo On Demand been working for you?" It's the "Hi Ray" bit that explains that Philip was asking me a question and not yourself Vasco, in case it's still a bit confussing for you. Competing at Raindance, Edinburugh, Sitges, etc are honary not vain, I didn't submit to, I was invited to screen the Viennale in Austria, one of the most prestigous film festivals in the world, I've also been invited to screen at several national nternational film festivals, so no money was wasted. Talk about what you know, don't talk for others and listen when people are kindly providing you with useful information rather than interjecting inexperienced opinions and then having insulting hissy fits when someone calls you out for talking nonsense.

    1 month ago
  • Wow! This conversation has taken more twists and turns than with a bag of Spritzals. Lots of name calling and casting of aspirations. Has anyone in this conversation actually met?

    Just for the record, for the avoidance of doubt, if anyone wants to know, there's a representative taste of what I've been upto over the last three decades or so on www.movingvision.co.uk

    I've never sought to generate money from VOD or on line viewing platforms because it's been clear, since for ever, that the odds of such an things being worth the effort are too long. The chances of short films and low budget features achieving something commensurate with a viable business model are statistically weak. Sure there's some great examples of success against the odds but they're not representative enough for one to base a business plan upon. There's lots of good reasons to make these films but making money isn't one of them. Unless one has an edge.

    I've enjoyed and supported a great many projects that had little or no expectation of monetary or distribution success. Where I've been working for at least some sort of profit or even just needing to break even, I've sought to satisfy clearly identifiable markets and audiences, mostly factual and commercial. I can only repeat my mantra that for an independent or underground film maker who needs to extract a financially viable project from a low base, the first requirement is to ask oneself if that project has appeal to an audience for more reasons than just being another story in a saturated market where bigger budget movies with powerful marketing and distribution resources dominate and displace. Typically, when one looks into it, most low budget shorts and features rely upon the accomplishments of unrelated wealth, patronage or the impoverishment of it's producers. One of my heroines, with whom I was pleased to have a minor role, has been Franny Armstrong, who the best part of two decades ago raised some £600,000 through innovative methods of crowd funding to produce her feature drama documentary 'The Age of Stupid' and then raised further funds in money and kind valued at another £400,000 to facilitate a truly worldwide distribution. Franny demonstrated one template for viable alternative film making, beyond the bumping along the bottom sort, for those who don't rely upon 'established' mechanisms, so often suggested to be the proper way to go. Franny's model was not definitive of the alternative film business models available but certainly offers an insight as to how to duck and dive without following those overtrodden pathways so beloved of those who place their souls into the keeping of film festivals, even though they can be fun. The real world of opportunity lies beyond the establishment and it's party games.

    First have a story that people really do care about. That usually means a story that accords with realities that affect people. Get that right and much of the rest ought to fall into place; even if it's not quite as easy as falling off a log.

    1 month ago
  • Wise and thoughtful words John and very greatly appreciated. Personally, I'm testing all the online distribution models available using my own indie films, their sales to discover more and more about possible revenue streams from online distribution. Interestingly though. I feel a lot more in control with online distribution than in my past twenty years of distribution by DVD and even on VHS (dust and cobwebs and visible pixels here) when I was constantly being ripped off by bottom feeding sales agents, dodgy wholesalers and high street rental sharks now thankfully deceased. Have been working at online distribution for nearly a decade now as was trying right from the start to get it to work, now finally after all this time, I am beginning to see a chink of daylight shining through from so much darkness. Analytics, blockchain sales figures and money are finally starting to become less hidden, now if only Amazon would open up a little about how they run their system for low budget films rather than having for me to try and work backward to try and figure out revenue percentages.
    Many thanks as always for your perspective John
    regards Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    4 weeks ago
  • Ray, you're a doer and you've done a lot. You've also invested a lot and taken risks. It's good to know that your seeing light through the chinks of armour. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    4 weeks ago
  • You too have done a lot and really great to hear that you supported Franny Armstrong and her most excellent film. Met and got the time to talk to the late greatly missed Pete Postlethwaite in Berlin at an after party for the world premiere of "In the Name of the Father", he too was a much respected, altruistic, very generous and an incredibly positive supportive gentleman.
    Many thanks, John
    regards Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    4 weeks ago
  • Pete Postlthwaites premature death was a tragic loss, bless him. I have to stress that my part in Franny's film was very minor. I did spend time with her though and provided some help with regard to maximising the effectiveness of lower quality cameras and formats. Franny made a couple of seminally important documentaries before The Age of Stupid, including 'Drowned Out' and 'McLibel', which demonstrated the power of alternative independent production being capable of deeply unsettling powerful bullies, to say the least. Iconoclasm is one of the most viable pathways for film makers to maintain sustainability while operating out side of established bubbles and presumptions.

    4 weeks ago
  • Hi John,
    It's a small world in the film business indeed. I met Franny when we both for a time had the same Pro Bono legal representation. Stephen Millicent was giving her legal advice preparing to defend the 'McLibel' case and we met in their offices in the evening whilst waiting for the paying clients to finish up, when they very kindly took the time to give their Pro Bono/free clients council. We were at the time preparing to take a case to the European Courts after our feature "Boy Meets Girl" 1994 was banned by the censor for openly criticizing the way the film censors worked then in the UK, namely forcing cuts of realistic violence whilst passing incredibly uncut, totally unrealistic comic book violence as acceptable and less likely to damage viewers or prurient viewing.
    Many thanks, Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    4 weeks ago
    • It is a small world Ray. Interesting case you tell of. I'm always a sucker for challenging statutory authorities, any authority will do!! How did that 'Boy Meets Girl' case go? Did you succeed?

      4 weeks ago
  • Sorry for my tardy response John. We were just set to roll when another film failed in an attempt to reverse a decision made by the board ref Wiki: "In 1996, Wingrove challenged the British Board of Film Classification, which has refused to grant a distribution certificate for his short film "Visions of Ecstasy" on the grounds that it was blasphemous, at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He claimed that the ban breached Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was disproportionate.[1] Wingrove's case was supported by the notable figures such as authors Salman Rushdie[2] and Fay Weldon,[3] and film director Derek Jarman,[4] however The Court dismissed the claim and accepted that the criminal law of Blasphemy, as it was applied in England, did not infringe the right to freedom of expression under Article 10. In 1994". Though Nigel's film was banned for a completely different reason our council felt under the circumstances we would find it too difficult to continue to pursue a highly expensive case against the BBFC at that time, we were advised to stop and to wait for some time before trying. It took seven years for the time to be right, when I was contacted unofficially with the advice to resubmit, which I did and my film "Boy Meets Girl" was passed completely uncut, not a single frame, without a legal battle, not even a whimper, but by then Ferman had lost control of the board and several other films that he had personally taken a disliking to managed to then pass certification, and most importantly violence in films was allowed to be shown realistically, as shocking and disturbing as it should be to see. Below is a link on Vimeo where if your curious, you can copy and paste it into your browser to watch where I recently spoke briefly about the issue, please jump along the timeline to 21mins in to reach the appropriate point:
    vimeo.com/300929198
    Regards Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    3 weeks ago
    • Cheers for the link Ray. I now feel that I've almost met you in the flesh!!! The case re Boy meets Girl, and others, starkly underlines how problematic it is with giving too much 'judicial' power to an individual or even a panel. They used to execute people for minor crimes only 150 odd years ago. The change in attitude over just seven years with this censorship case reveals just how backward and reactionary are too many who sit atop power pyramids. As with the Orwellian system of the corrupt judging the rightious. The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights also reminds us that even those institutions, commonly held to be enlightened and progressive, can't be relied upon to be so. The relatively swift example of revisionism proves it. Even though the Internet is full of bullshit and nastiness it's also the greatest single source of progressive enlightenment currently on offer short, of Cosmic Consciousness.

      Congratulations for your award and persaverence too.

      3 weeks ago
  • I'm very interested in what you're finding out about online distribs.

    My own case study is my recent feature doc ALL THE WILD HORSES. The film was in production for 3 years, being filmed in Mongolia over 3 summers.

    An early mistake was to agree to work with a UK exec producer who'd approached me in his role as a well known UK indie distributor. It's taken me a year and a half to finally just about prise his claws open and nearly — but still not entirely — throw him off the project again.

    Distribution-wise, the film has lurched everywhere. We premiered in Galway and unexpectedly won Best Feature Doc, and then kept winning across the States and Canada. This allowed us to sell to Hulu, Amazon, Sundance Selects, Canal Plus, RTÉ in Ireland and Iceland. But UK itself still hasn't sold, because I believe no serious buyer will touch this UK outfit.

    The film did screen in around 40 screens in the UK, but the main objective was to get national papers to review the film.

    We had a huge amount of interest way before the film was even finished, because it is a very niche subject matter and n-one has managed to film it before. Once the film started its festival run this worldwide interest wasn't seriously capitalized on by the sales agent. The whole promotion of the film, the festival wins, the thousands of followers were all generated by the producers but not really followed up by the sales agent.

    I think this translated into patchy sales. Even with what sounds like impressive sales, and a small overall budget, we still haven't broken even.

    We've now started experimenting with four-walling in a few countries, with Dutch, German and Italian subtitles to start with. And this has been a big eye-opener. If you go to the countries, and the towns and regions where your subject matter strikes a chord (in our case adventure, travel and horses) you get a response. With our first cinema in Holland (a single cinema) we sold £3k of tickets in 3 weeks, and we're only starting. Same in the States, and Germany and Italy are starting right now. I had really given up hope regarding cinema releases, but as it turns out, the UK is a really bad example for what is possible, because UK audiences and/or buyers are too lethargic.

    So we're going to do a lot more theatrical releases, across Europe and Australia, NZ and the States before we move to DVD on demand next year.

    Do you think the only real way to generate more online sales on Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo and YouTube rentals is to drive audience there? We haven't done that at all yet even though we are on all these platforms, because we feel we haven't even exploited cinema in most territories. But maybe it would be fiancially better to create a strong drive online?

    3 weeks ago
  • Hi Ivo,
    Firstly welcome to this forum and thank you for your input. Secondly, thank you for sharing and kudos for what you have managed to achieve so far. Three years making a film and it seems like three years selling and promoting a film I completely understand. Independent filmmakers start out planning and making a feature-length film often do not realize that when completed that they are only then half way there. Finding sales and distribution to reach a large audience means learning many more skills, wearing different hats and sometimes a lot of trial and error to reach your goals. This is the reason why most feature filmmakers only make one film, less than half two, ten percent then go on to make three or more. Until you establish yourself, identify a loyal audience and learn how to handle the sales and promotion side of filmmaking you and your associates will find that money continues to flow out of your accounts whilst struggling to manage to bring in any revenues. The reason why some filmmakers give up is simply that they have exhausted all their money in trying to reach the break-even goal (plus experience).
    I love the fact that you are having such success with four-walling, old school, really old school as in that is the way that cinema started out, filmmakers making their films and then hiring out whatever venues they could hire inexpensively and charging admission to watch. Cons you have to be there organizing and running the events (when you would much greatly prefer to be off making another film), Pros: there are no middlemen or gat keepers taking huge/the majority of revenue and then throwing you pennies for your efforts for you to pick up from the gutter.
    I once met Melvin Van Peebles that told how to made a lot of money screening his film "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" (1971) simply because he knew that since no films were being made representing black people that he needed to make one, then when he did he couldn't get the screen owners to let him show his film for fair amounts of money, even though when he did screen he sold out and had round the block queues waiting to watch the next screening, what did he do, he hired out alternative venues and finally managed to start really earning money. He followed the money and reached his target audience. We all as filmmakers when setting out to make a film need to plan ahead, need to prepare to be able to do this. Expecting that making a great film that wins festivals will be enough to jump-start a career is just not very likely. Only a few really lucky people, in the right place at the right time ever manage to achieve this. Setting out knowing that the marketing, promotional, sales side of things will have to be dealt with after completing our films is a reality in a world controlled by huge greedy corporations and duplicitous middlemen that have a nose for taking advantage of a naive filmmaker who has made a great film, been there, seen it, was it, learned the hard way but still here trying to make headway.
    Yes, digital distribution is easier and more profitable than traditional DVD, Bluray, 4K UltraHD distribution and it's inherent expensive costs and finding trustworthy honest distribution outlets and wholesalers. Testing the waters by as much research as you can afford the time to make so that you can then extremely cautiously/carefully pick the right companies to go with that best suit your film is the tricky part to digital distribution.
    More Anon soon in regard to answering your question more directly, sorry have to work now.
    Regards Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    3 weeks ago
  • Thanks for sharing your experiences Ivo. Everyone of us who have actually done something of real substance in trying to find a pathway to some kind of independent viability can provide experience based realities that contribute to solving this distribution issue.

    Your Mongolian story sounds lovely. Why hasn't it had a terrestrial broadcast? Possibly because broadcasters only want to buy limited transmission rights to programmes that they didn't commission and don't own. Rarely does the transmission fee meet production costs unless multiple broadcasts and territories can be achieved. It's interesting that you're having some progress with internationalising the film. It's a bit of a 'Long Tail' business model thing. Before the digital age of limited communication, essentially before our Saint Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, niche interest productions could only be afforded through public broadcasters. The Long Tail means that all those niche interested folk can be joined together no matter how geographically fragmented around the world they may be. Consequently those niches are now big enough to be viable. They also tend to be much more enthusiastic and supportive of their interest than most.

    The long tail is probably more effective with factual films that touch those niche interests in a progressive or supportive way than with fiction movies, unless those fiction movies do the same thing but poetically.

    What the 'long tail' has proven is that it's a business model that can achieve fully front loaded and fully rewarding budgets where that global niche interest is willing to fund a project up front for no other reason than to see it made and distributed freely on every platform. Quality and broadcast standards are essential so that films can be given freely to broadcasters. For maximum airing, time and territory limited exclusives can be given prior to general release.

    Other models are available.

    3 weeks ago
    • Hi John,
      All good stuff but I would like to put a magnifying glass over one point that you brought up namely: "Why hasn't it had a terrestrial broadcast? Possibly because broadcasters only want to buy limited transmission rights to programmes that they didn't commission and don't own." Always found this an anathema, to commission a feature film or doco costs millions so why after proving themselves internationally at film festivals by trial by fire do TV companies not acquire inexpensively independently produced product. In my whole film career of over twenty five years, I've only managed to sell one feature-length doc to C4 who paid half the production budget for the UK rights, which is standard, leaving the producers the rights to the ROW to recoup your other outstanding fifty percent. If there is anyone out there that knows how to broker deals or introduce films to broadcasters would you please say hello or get in contact, either on this list or by PM, please? Why is it vitally important to redress this problem? Well from my experience at film markets, the first question that buyers for foreign TV rights invariably
      ask is, does your film have a UK terrestrial broadcast deal in place? When you answer no they immediately see your film as a lower tier, straight to DVD/BluRay film and set their pricing levels around that as they believe that if you haven't made that benchmark your film is B movie or lower in quality, not understanding or appreciating that only a tiny, tiny percentage of multi-award winning feature films or docos are ever picked up by UK broadcasters, really maybe, incredibly one or two a year.
      Raygards
      www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

      2 weeks ago
    • @Ray Brady & @ John, I agree there seems to be a total oxymoron with regards to broadcast buy-in's vs commissions and makes zero sense. My feeling is that people like to feel they're involved and have creative input. If you let them have their say with a couple of amazing ideas like to use Futura Light for the credits or put a fade here or there, they feel they've had a significant input and feel a much stronger responsibility for the film. And the invested money will make them work a lot harder to bring the product to the market.

      An indie production will sell at WAY less than a commission. Also, our sales agent for example is fairly big, so their book is also fairly big, which means they sell cheaper and quicker and thus film up their pantry but it's not as good a deal for filmmmakers. Like Sainsburys working with lots of farmers and product and a low price, so no one but Sainsburys and their customers (in our case networks) wins.

      My new production is set up completely differently, with a large MG so that the sales agent has already committed to working hard to make back the MG and then turn a profit.

      2 weeks ago
  • Well done Ivo. Or should I say well doing since you're not there yet. Good posting. You could almost do one of those old Hollywood pix from the 30s?40s about making a pic about making a pic. I can remember several of these from my childhood. It stimulated me to start thinking (or scribbling) again a short story that got some praise into a viable screen-play. Yeah I can see it! It's all there in my head. Until I read your post Ivo. Damned if I could handle all that aggro. I was going to say 'but keep at it' which is of course superflous because you are doing. Good on ya mate.

    3 weeks ago
    • @Allen I am keeping at it. I can't find any other employment so I'm working from project to project trying to get better commissions and /or MGs as I go, get better at finding/pitching clean stories with a better idea who your audience is, and a screenwriting background helps I feel.

      Don't be dissuaded by my post. Just trust your first instinct when it comes to potential collaborators. If there's no IMDb record, its just bs. The UK film industry is absolutely awash with self-entitled "industry veterans" (shudder) that still like to think of themselves as big fish because they go to Cannes every year or teach a couple of filmmaking courses or they're Bafta members and like to overshare that on Fb, but actually they're only big fish in a bottom-feeding cottage industry that caters to aspiring filmmakers, and whose interest very much is to keep aspiring filmmaker just that, aspiring. Instead, you can go your own way, you can call it another lonely day :-) but you'll get the thing made!

      2 weeks ago
  • Hi Ivo,
    Very interested to know based on your past recent success (kudos) if your minimal guarantees from your sales agent cover the full production budget? Did that dictate the production budget? Please understand that I'm not asking you to reveal any figures, but proportional percentages would be useful? Also I curious to know why your sales agent can't put in place a UK terrestrial broadcast deal of so kind, not the top ones who only ever screen what they've commissioned, but the second tier national broadcasters that do occasionally acquire/pick-up broadcast rights without committing budgetary expenditure and are up for possible first look acquisition deals even if they are only provisional, may become useful in your distribution strategy? Also, could you or your sales agents possibly reach out to Netflix, Amazon, BT, Facebook or whatever company is this year aggressively buying into the market trying to establish themselves as a new player as opposed to the past dictators, or ironically kingmakers if you are invited into the fold, namely the BBC etc commissioners and their heads of acquisition?
    Regards Ray

    2 weeks ago
  • Hey Ivo - 'big fish in a bottom feeding cottage industry' - I'm going to pinch that

    2 weeks ago