The world of film distribution is changing fast. As filmmakers, we can no longer depend on the old DVD retail distribution model to get our movies seen and sold. The good news is, internet based distribution platforms like iTunes, Amazon and Hulu are accessible. But just because you can get your movie into the marketplace does not necessarily mean your movie will make a profit. In this filmmaking article, we answer our readers question – Is it possible to make money through video on demand distribution?
I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve been researching about indie films production. But as all my businesses are – digital/online projects, I became really interested in digital distribution. I am considering the prospect of producing a few films with indie filmmakers.
BUT as an investor, the current problem is many filmmakers talk about online distribution and how great it might be, but no one actually shows some real results. For example: “We invested $50K into that movie, and six months later made $250K in profit.” And as I’m practical, I cannot trust anyone who just says it is possible to make money but doesn’t show any proof that they were able to do it by them self.
Can filmmakers make money with video on demand?
- A Skeptical Film Investor
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Dear Skeptical Film Investor,
I am going to tell you what all those other filmmaking gurus are too scared to share. And that is: Most movies DO NOT make money. I am serious. After years of hard work, most movies play in a few film festivals (that you never heard of) and then die in quiet obscurity. But it is important to know that this filmmaking failure has nothing to do with video on demand platforms.
Having an accessible marketplace is actually an improvement over the old days when indie filmmakers depended on the whims of predatory distributors. Back then, most filmmakers would give away their movies for no money, in exchange for the mere validation of seeing their DVD on the shelf in a local video store.
But even with accessible platforms, most filmmakers still fail financially because they never take the time to plan a feasible marketing strategy. Think about it. If you were creating any other business, wouldn’t you take the time to study your target market? Wouldn’t you figure out if people were actually interested in your type of product? Wouldn’t you budget for your sales, marketing, and advertising and establish your breakeven point? Yet whenever we talk about filmmaking, we just pretend that the end platform is the engine behind sales and Return On Investment. This is a flawed assumption.
In my indie distribution guide, I emphasize this: If churning a profit was easy, movie studios would not spend millions of dollars on advertising. They would simply create a movie, put it in iTunes and wait for their return. And like the studios, as a modern moviemaker YOU are responsible for researching your target audience. YOU are responsible for determining your budget and how many units you need to sell to get a return. And finally, YOU are responsible for making sure that the money you spend on advertising comes back as profit.
While there are no guarantees in any industry, most filmmakers fail to take time to plan. Most ignore all of these metrics. And as a result, many of filmmakers are destined for failure from the outset. I am sure this is not the silver bullet you were looking for. But I would be doing the filmmaking community a disservice if I pretended that access to popular VOD platforms is all you need for success.
Filmmakers need to understand marketing and they need a plan. And as a prospective movie investor, you can never forget that you are simply creating and selling a product. General business principals still apply. For more information on how to market and sell your movie, visit www.HowToSellYourMovie.com