Thoughts On Distribber (Video On Demand Aggregator)

A few years back, I served as the director of operations for Distribber. At the time, Distribber was a wholly owned subsidiary of Indiegogo.

For those of you not familiar with the service, Distribber is a Video On Demand aggregator with a mission to help filmmakers get their movies seen and selling in popular marketplaces. And unlike traditional film distributors, Distribber operates on an upfront payment model, without locking you into a long term agreement.

For a little context on why I love the service, it is important to understand the past. Prior to video on demand, and in order to reach the marketplace, filmmakers HAD to go through a distributor. This meant that distributors had all the power. You either agreed to their terms or your didn’t reach the marketplace.  As a result, many filmmakers agreed to crappy deals.

Given the demise in DVD distribution, filmmakers are now experiencing a paradigm shift. We are entering a world where all roads lead to video on demand. And unlike the old days, filmmakers do not have to take unfavorable deals to reach these marketplaces.

This is where Distribber helps. For an upfront fee and nothing off the back end, filmmakers can get their movies into the marketplace. And unlike traditional distributors, Distribber does not lock you into some long-term, exclusive agreement. With this transparent model, Distribber is very filmmaker friendly.

This means you:

1. Choose your preferred platforms and pay for access.

2. Distribber then works to get your movie into the platform.

If Distribber is  not successful in getting your movie into the selected platform, Distribber refunds your money – minus a processing fee.

[Disclosure: We are a referral partner for Distribber. This means we get paid to advertise and promote. So please conduct your own due diligence prior to making any purchase both here and everywhere on earth.]

I first heard about Distribber years ago when I was trying to help my filmmaker clients get their titles onto iTunes. At the time, I was so enamored by the company that I enthusiastically applied to become a referral partner. And after working successfully with several clients, one thing led to another. And I was hired by Distribber as the director of operations.

Suffice it to say, I know Distribber very well and have stayed friendly with the founder, staff and the new owners.

DistribberThoughts On Distribber

Distribber is run by Nick Soares and his team at DiGi Worldwide. They actually purchased Distribber from Indiegogo.

After the acquisition, Distribber was updated to include partnerships with Redbox, Redbox Instant, Walmart, VuDu, Google Play and a few others. And from what the management reports, Distribber also has plans to expand to new territories including UK, Russia, South America and China.

Distribber also has enhanced the technology a bit.  Here is a snapshot of their new reporting tools:

Distribber_Reports

Distribber has advanced its technology and platform by adding new tools that include an affiliate program and a revenue-reporting tool. With these new distribution partnerships and capabilities, combined with the ability to retain 100 percent of the films’ revenue, filmmakers have more viability in the marketplace for their films.

We acquired Distribber simply because it completed our robust game plan. Allowing filmmakers to receive every option imaginable from funding to distribution, while maximizing their potential to not only return their investment but to actually make a living producing movies.”  Nick Soares CEO

About Distribber

Distribber1Distribber was created to help rights holders maximize the payback from their work and investment.

More specifically, Distribber was conceived as a solution to several persistent complaints from filmmakers and other creative rights holders about distributors in general and aggregators in particular.

In other words, the goal of Distribber is to put the power of a large distributor in the filmmakers hands. To find out more about the Distribber service offering, follow this link.

And if you have questions, please feel free to add them to the comments below.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Robert –

    I am very sorry you had a bad experience with the Netflix submission process. As you know, they are a highly curated, premium platform and select only the content they see fit.

    Regarding your comment on how hard we work – First of all, I appreciate you. And I personally spent many hours working to try and satisfy your needs. I am happy to do this because I care about you, our customers and the filmmaking community a great deal.

    As per your comment regarding Amazon – Amazon takes 50% of the revenue, not Distribber. We receive the other 50% and then we pass those monies to the filmmaker.

    Again, I am very sorry you had a bad experience.

    Nick Soars
    CEO Distribber

  2. says

    Hi Robert – Sorry for your frustration and lack of communication. I do a lot of work with Distribber. I know Nick personally. I am sure he will get back to you. And I’m sure he will issue that refund… In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and ping him.

  3. Robert Camina says

    I would like to go on record to HIGHLY caution fellow filmmakers on the film aggregator service Distribber​!! I submitted my award winning documentary ​ (11 awards, including 5 “Best” film awards and played nearly 40 film festivals and even screened at the Library of Congress, at their invitation) to Distribber (with that HEFTY FEE) in APRIL 2014, so they could represent the film to Netflix and sell them on the idea of picking up this multiple award winning documentary for their video streaming service. (As you’ve mentioned, a filmmaker cannot directly sell to Netflix).

    So, in other words, Distribber works for me (or should). I submitted the basic paperwork which indicated that the next step would involve requesting the screener (a copy of the movie). I am patient and I waited for that request. THEN, unexpectedly, I received a rejection letter saying Netflix passed on my film. WHAT??? They never even saw it! The paperwork consisted of the log line and the trailer.

    I IMMEDIATELY contacted Distribber, questioning this rejection. I perceive Distribber to be MY AGENT. AGENTS are supposed to work for their clients. Now when I worked as TALENT, I was always told “never pay an agent upfront. They get their cut after they get you work.”

    However, without any other avenue to submit to Netflix (since no major DVD distributor picked it up), I paid the fee and trusted them to do their job. After a long phone conversation with my new agent there, Nick Soares, he calmly and methodically explained the whole process (no one had done that before).

    He told me that Distribber meets with Netflix monthly and pitches a large selection of movies each month. (Let me remind you, they have a log line and a trailer at most for the pitches). He told me Netflix never asks for screeners.

    I told him, “since you are pitching my movie, shouldn’t you make the best pitch possible? Supporting materials? Press clippings? Lists of Awards? Letters of recommendation from high ranking government officials?” “Yes”, he said. “That would be great! Can you send those?” “Definitely!”. I made one hell of a presentation packet, full of impressive newspaper clippings, lists of awards, reviews and the list of nearly 40 film festivals we played. I have a BBA in Marketing and worked in a Marketing firm for 7 years. He said he would re-pitch the film.

    Nick told me that their presentation would be on March 15. I waited until last Wednesday (April 29) to call them (since I hadn’t received an update). Nick said “HI!! You are on my list to call tomorrow! ” (my thoughts…”sure”…) “I am going to call Netflix and get an update. You will hear from me tomorrow or Friday.” I said, “okay, I will hear from you tomorrow or Friday.” By end of business on Friday, I didn’t have a call, so I called him. I left a voice mail. It’s Tuesday. I still haven’t received a call. I tried calling Nick and his voice mail box is full. (*Eyebrow raise*) I wrote an email, restating the obvious: that I hadn’t received the call as he promised, and asked for a phone call (bolded and underlined) response.

    He EMAILED me, backpedaling, telling me he said he’d call me “if” he heard an update from Netflix. (He didn’t say “if”, by the way). He ended by saying “At this point even with all the material given I do not think Netflix is willing to take this title.” I responded by CALLING him (I believe some things are better and more efficiently handled by phone), but I got a full voice mailbox again. I emailed him, telling him it would have been a professional courtesy to return Friday’s phone call. (again, they DO work for me, right? I DID pay them money, right?). I also reminded him that my email SPECIFICALLY asked him to call me.

    Now Distribber has a “policy”, that IF Netflix doesn’t take your film, Distribber will refund most of your money, minus a service fee. (I know I am crazy to ask this, but I once again asked Nick for a phone call to detail the refund policy.). He wrote me back. (surprise.) His full reply in detail: “Currently we do send refunds via checks, or PayPal.”. That is all he said. It doesn’t sound very detailed does it? What’s the timeline? How is process started? etc…There’s no sense of accountability established here.)

    SO, all that being said, I am sure some people may think I am just bitter that I wasn’t accepted by Netflix. Sure, that sucks, but that’s not the point. Communication with Distribber has been poor from the very beginning. In hindsight, even the submission form online was very, very vague and sketchy. I hope they refund the money in a timely basis, but based on the FIFTEEN MONTHS I have been working with them, I am not optimistic. I will leave the general audience with this, when it comes to Distribber, BUYER BEWARE.

    I am VERY skeptical about how hard they work for the films and the filmmakers. I never got the feeling that they were trying very hard. If they really want your film to be seriously considered, shouldn’t they PARTNER with you to get the strongest selling materials for your film as possible? If you do end up working with them and decide to pursue the other platforms they “sell” your film to, ask them why they want to charge you nearly $400 to launch your film on Amazon Instant Video AND take 50% of your revenue, when you can publish on Amazon Instant Video yourself for FREE and not share your profits with a 3rd party.

  4. Stephan says

    Hi Jason, interesting posts. Is Distribber still active? Many many things on their website are fairly outdated (e.g. “coming in May 2014″). I know you don’t work there anymore, but during your time how many filmmakers were actually using the service? Do they deal with individuals or only with big companies?
    Many thanks!

  5. DeWayne Copeland says

    Jason, there was a review of Distribber published a few years ago in which several people described communications and payment problems they were having with Distribber. With your history and current relationship with the company, are you able to offer any insight into the alleged problems and whether those problems have been addressed? Thank you.

  6. Gregory T. Williamson says

    I have written over 600 short stories that I’m in the process of turning into film, and am currently auditioning for film #7 and need a place to sell my work.

  7. Vince Jeffers says

    Jason is a very knowledgeable resource on distribution. His e-mails are thoughtful and encouraging to Independent Filmmakers. It’s nice to be a filmmaker but it’s better to be a filmmaker who makes money by making films. His strategies to build a fan base, create excitement, brand yourself as a filmmakers is invaluable to a successful career. Good job Jason keep up the great work.

  8. says

    There is still a huge market in cable as well as DVD. So the sales agents and traditional distributors will have business for years to come. After that? Then I guess we shall see!

  9. says

    Great news for Distribber! And filmmakers alike. It’s crazy, but what you wrote at the end of the post:

    In other words, the goal of Distribber is to put the power of a large distributor in the filmmakers hands.

    The plan to reach UK, Russia, South America and China! This is way huge. I mean Distribber has always seem like the “go to” aggregator in my book, but with the added boost of a new backer … Effective Global Distribution will no longer be a barrier.

    What will become of international sales agents and distributors?

    I’m glad I read the news on this site, knowing that you have intimate knowledge of the company, as opposed to the AP.

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