Filmmaking Dilemma To Stream or Not To Stream

Over the past decade there has been a proliferation of platforms promising to help filmmakers cut out the middle-man.

While many of these companies have a cool concept, the truth is, I think many of these streaming solutions are a waste of time.

Why? Because most streaming solutions do NOTHING to assist filmmakers in sourcing an audience.

Think about it: So what if you can stream from your website and charge your visitors a nickle per view? How many people are coming to your website? Where do you (and most people) shop for movies online?

I know where I shop for movies online. I shop at NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon and occasionally iTunes. I don’t go looking for random weird movies on random weird websites. And even if I did, the last thing I would do is enter my credit card into some weird website.

Maybe I’m wrong. Where do you buy your movies online? Are you seeking movie distribution?



  1. Ajlbouchard says

    Buy movies? Online? I buy movies at the $3 bargain bin at Big Lots. I watch movies free online.

  2. says

    Thanks for your feedback and your thoughts on this. If you’ve been visiting Filmmaking Stuff for any length of time, then you know my thoughts on bottom-feeders – lots of folks out there are trying to exploit unsuspecting filmmakers.

    Second to crappy distribution deals, my biggest beef are some of the streaming companies that promise a new gizmo, while at the same time implying that by mere fact of having the gizmo will also source your audience. As we both agree, this is not true. In cases where the filmmaker’s site is not being visited, I would highly recommend getting into the mainstream marketplaces.

    It sounds as though you were very smart about your deals. Targeted internet traffic provides you with leverage. And retaining streaming rights and making your movie available in various marketplaces has allowed you to maximize exposure and revenue – without the middle-man.

  3. says

    One other thing: who is it that is feeding this idea to filmmakers?

    So many snakes in this pit, always trying to exploit and manipulate and feed off of filmmakers. These are not easy waters to navigate, but that’s actually what I like about this sort of thing, the small number of interlocutors involved. I don’t need a consultant, or a distributor, or an agent of any kind – just my film, my website, a player, and reasonably modest expectations.

  4. says

    Well, that’s the best part: I’m not actually funneling these viewers anywhere. This is a matter of people finding our page due to all the awareness we’ve already raised, or continue to raise, while promoting other things; there’s no extra work required.

    I believe in making the film as readily available to watch on as many platforms as possible. More than anything, I think this may be a piracy deterrent, or it at least provides another option. Not everyone wants to watch a movie online, but those who do are just as likely to find a torrent as to find it on our page. So every time someone watches it on our page, I see it as someone who could have, but didn’t, catch a torrent.

    We’re on ITunes and Amazon, but since filmmakers can’t sign their own deals with these places, we’re on there with distributor/aggregators (in one case, with Gravitas, and in the other, our DVD/Blu-ray distributor, Factory 25).

    But then we’re paying both Amazon or itunes fee and the distributor’s fee, and when we do it on our own site: no middlemen. We get a straight percentage of our sales. We’re not making a ton of money with it or anything. But I feel that I the filmmaker should intrinsically be “allowed” to offer my film direct to fans. And because we kept streaming rights, and Factory 25 and Gravitas were willing to work with us on that, I’m able to do this. We do have it geoblocked for a few countries where we don’t have streaming rights.

    The point for us is to make it as easy to watch the film online for a fee as it is to watch it for free. And to provide as many access points for that to happen as possible.

    But clearly it does not build an audience, any more than any other access point and the resultant word of mouth would. Are you getting press releases from people advocating for putting films up for free, in order to spread the word? I don’t agree with that at all. We’ve rarely even played a festival for free. I always act like my film is worth something. (Leading by example…) Because it is.

  5. says

    I think we are talking about the same ideas here – And I apologize for the confusion.

    A lot of filmmakers are being fed the idea that “content enablers” will magically source an audience. And I wrote the post more in response to the never-ending slew of emails I get from various traditional PR firms trying to push the next NetFlix for indie filmmakers – none of which solves the blatant problem of actually getting enough people to watch the movie…

    In terms of having site visitors watch the movie from the movie website – I think you have a good case study and make a valid point. I know of another filmmaker who is testing this.

    Feel free to respond with more detail. Like, how do you generate traffic for your site? And why have you decided to stream from your site, as opposed to funneling your visitors into Amazon or iTunes?

    Thanks for being part of the community.


  6. says

    I’m surprised by this post. If you’re a filmmaker and you’ve retained streaming rights to your film, why not make it available in this way on your website? And why the assumption that anyone’s charging 5 cents (or should charge that little?) to stream? We charge $4.99 and have made a couple thousand dollars at, using Dynamo.

    It has to be part of a broader campaign, of course. But if you’ve already done the press for other release formats, why not do this? We’re on NFLX, Amazon, Itunes, Cable VOD, the Sundance channel, and DVD/Blu-ray. We still make a steady $50/week just on streaming. It’s not that much, but it just keeps rolling in.

    These technologies aren’t there to help you source an audience. They’re content enablers, not promoters, and give a modicum of control back to the filmmaker. I don’t get the confusion/negative take on this.

    I mean, what’s the downside?


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