Sell A Movie To NetFlix

In the world of indie filmmaking, it sure seems like every filmmaker wants to find out how to sell a movie to Netflix. In fact, it sure seems like NetFlix has become the holy grail.

And rightly so.  For many filmmakers, being able to sell a movie to Netflix has become a rite of passage.  And with over 30 million subscribers, getting your movie into the platform would represent exposure.

In fact, many filmmakers have been leaving messages at my office like this:

I want to sell a movie to Netflix! I just want you to know that I don’t care about money. In fact, if I can’t sell a movie to Netflix, I’d be happy to put my movie on Netflix for free.

If you’re having similar thoughts, you may want to rethink a few things. While the opportunity for exposure feels enticing, accepting a silly deal doesn’t pay the bills or pay back your investors.

Sell a Movie to Netflix

After working with several filmmakers on their distribution strategy, I really DO NOT think NetFlix offers indie filmmakers the most viable option for distribution. For starters, in order to get your movie into Netflix, you must first get into their database.

Sell a Movie To NetFlix

How do you get into the NetFlix database?

This is the secret sauce. Netflix decides what movies get into their database. And short of knowing somebody on the inside, there isn’t much you can do to change this. NetFlix is very discriminatory about what movies get into their database. So you better have an awesome movie that appeals to a large segment of the Netflix subscriber base.

What does NetFlix pay for film acquisitions?

If you are fortunate enough to get your title into the NetFlix database, you still need a gazillion people to request your movie in their Netflix queue. This is called queue demand. And this metric will influence the actual amount of money NetFlix will offer you.

For some filmmakers, I have heard numbers around the $1,300 range. (I wish I was kidding.) From a business perspective, this model allows NetFlix to predict demand and also acquire movies for minimal dollars.

Should You Try To Sell A Movie To NetFlix?

While it may be cool to have your movie available in NetFlix, the unappetizing deals they offer are just hard to stomach. Some of my filmmaker friends argue that getting into NetFlix is good because having your movie there will promote word of mouth.

To that, I usually respond that piracy is also good for word of mouth. And getting someone to bootleg your movie involves a lot less headaches.

If you are still set on getting into Netflix, then you may want to talk with traditional distributors. Utilizing traditional channels may then allow you to circumvent some of the requirements I mentioned earlier.

If you’re still set on Netflix, you can always attempt to submit via an upfront payment VOD aggregator like Distribber (note: I once ran operations there, and they still pay me to promote). But don’t hold your breath. Now that Netflix is producing their own shows, getting in (and actually making money) may still prove challenging.

sell your movieIf you would like to explore more accessible outlets for your movie, you might wanna focus on transactional platforms (like iTunes and Amazon) and then drive targeted traffic to your point of sale.

Check out the Independent Producer’s Guide To Digital Distribution to find out more.

 

 

Comments

  1. Kate says

    You mean people actually request for the crappy selection Netflix puts available? Weird, but okay. Either way I could see it being difficult I just find it hard to believe a ton of people are asking for things like Tarzan 2 and things like that.

  2. says

    oh, yes that was an insight.anyway i wanted to know if an African movie can easly peentrate the international market and audiance or its its a no go area.

  3. says

    OK… It seems most of the comments here are either from Cry Babies whining “but it isn’t fair” (guess they thought the world would be “fair”… to filmmakers who would die on the streets as a sales person with their pathetically poor pitches. Hey guys, time to wise up. Take some courses here and get some of Jason’s Stuff to figure out how it really works. It is not fair… and nobody really cares about your movie like you do.

  4. Blu says

    Great article Jason!

    We sold our indie feature, a thriller House Of Good And Evil to Netflix for $42,000 for a three year licensing deal. We have found that even though the film won 8 international Best Picture awards from some great festivals, the biggest selling points were two elements.

    1. KEY ART. Platforms like Netflix, Walmart, Family Video (can find the title at all three, among others) etc look at key art as this is what consumers see on the shelves, either virtual or physical first. The more eye catching the better. Our key art cost $300 and is extremely effective. Just research the current color schemes studios are doing and integrate your art within those colors.

    2. SOCIAL MEDIA. We shot our film in a small town in Virginia (Floyd VA, most likely the most filmmaker friendly town an indie filmmaker can find). It was essential to utilize the community for sharing the film via social media. Small town pride goes a long way. We started our social media campaign 6 months prior to shooting and this helped push the numbers of fans. Netflix likes fans. It is a smart move to hire a PR firm (shop around for a boutique firm with heads that worked for major studios, but decided to branch out). They will have important contacts, while the drive and flexibility with a filmmaker’s limited budget. We use October Coast exactly for these reasons.

    Those two elements in addition to obviously having a quality project and aggressive distributor sales team are winning strategies that have proven to work, at least for our projects.

    Blu de Golyer
    Shooting Creek Films
    Filthy Fingernails LLC.

  5. fieldsevenproductions says

    We’re filming starting next week and would love for people to see our movie out next year but overall a person still wants to make money for the work that goes into making a movie. Looks like Amazon may be the way to go.

  6. says

    Netflix is a Closed shop. The new CEO no longer wants Indy films. I have one film that was purchased by them. Unless you have a named cast or relative working in their company don’t waste you time.

  7. Mahboob Saeed says

    i want to do something in documentary movies is there someone interesting in that than let me know

  8. Adam Spade says

    I appreciate the article. It’s real. I wouldn’t disagree. Personally, I don’t think there really is a good digital distributor yet for Independent films.

    But what about the people that don’t care if Netflix is a crappy deal? You never actually say how to get a movie on Netflix. I don’t really think this article is complete without at least a link to a submission form and a couple tips. :)

    Adam Spade
    Composer, Producer, Writer
    http://www.adamspade.com

  9. farouk umar says

    lookig for a partner to team up and write amazing films contact me if interested

  10. Scott Kessler says

    I’m Scott Kessler, writer/director of four microIndie films (Deep River, Paragon, Paragon II, and Wrestless). All four have imdb pages, have screened at festivals, local theater screenings, etc.

    I want to move onto the next level.

  11. GRX says

    After doing the heavy lifting of promotional work, we have had people inquiring if our film was available on Netflix. While we will continue to tell them to contact Netflix, the truth is, we probably would never sign a deal with them regardless.

    This model where Netflix takes the majority of funds over the production company doesn’t fly with us. It is obvious that through Netflix’s pricing strategy, (they are pulling an Amazon) it is more important for them to dominate the market than to turn profit. That’s great, they’re just not going to do it on the back of our film!

    Major studios get a much different deal with Netflix than independent films do (even proportionally). $1300 is not anywhere near close to what we would expect to give up a hunk of future direct sales. The problem with film makers is the majority have no attention span. They do not realize that this is a Marathon, it isn’t a sprint. You’re selling a product, that means selling the product is an ongoing process….

  12. Frank Casanova says

    Jason speaks the TRUTH… and for that, all truth-speakers pay a hefty price. Most in their audience “can’t handle the truth”, and criticize the truth-speaker as a “buzz killer”….even though what they say IS the TRUTH. I’ve been down that road many times.

  13. Mormo says

    I am so stoked with Amazon right now. I would definitely go after them if I had a film I could sell.

  14. Jay Warsinske says

    Jason – I’m a 40+ year industry veteran who is a part of an amazing Entertainment Conference, I E S – the INDIE ENTERTAINMENT SUMMIT in NoHo Arts District (across from the TELEVISION ACADEMY). We have over 100 industry leaders speak, be on panels, run workshops & promote what they do to aspiring film makers, music artists, producers & talent from around the World. Love to invite you to spend at least an hour with us!

  15. Darius says

    My name is Darius. I started writing movies 2 yrs ago and I love it.

    I write movies about drama. My real life movies are heartfelt and intense. I try to write about things that can really happen in life. I am looking to team up with a partner. I write. They film 50/50 – Contact if interested.

  16. Aref Mohammadi says

    I am writer , Director and producer of A Survivor from Magadan. I am looking to screen this film internationally. Any festival programmer interested?

    Please let me know.

  17. Alexander Feng says

    Funding is up for filming, if there is free distribution VOD? Income distribution from sharing profit.. Email me if you have recommendations. Thank you.

  18. jack konieczny says

    I agree with you on how Netflix should pay filmmakers more, this is a classic example of self serving capitalism where the rich are only getting richer. Speaking of examples: Perhaps Mumtaz would like to give us a quick low down of his experience with Netflix.

  19. Kefi says

    I was just describing how awesome it was to see independent films that started out in small film festivals hit the “big leagues” like Netflix (without having to wine and dine Hollywood for some attention.) I didn’t want to read this article for fear of ruining the fantasy of Netflix indeed becoming the latest holy grail for independent filmmakers. Thanks for the reality check though, wish Netflix was more profitable for the filmmaker :/

  20. Mumtaz Yildirimlar says

    Dear Jason,

    My name is Mumtaz Yildirimlar (aka Taz) and I head up an independent production company in London, MY Production Limited.

    We make shocking thriller and horror films, as we have passion for the darker side of entertainment. We also like working with very commercial genres like these as they generate high revenue.

    We are looking for film distribution deals on the two films below. CROSSLAND and COLD BLOOD.

    CROSSLAND have been released in the US on AMAZON, NETFLIX, HULU, VUDU, REDBOX , PS3, MVD and many more platforms. It would be nice to get some other territory releases for CROSSLAND and COLD BLOOD. Can you help?

    I can arrange a screener or online file for viewing. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards,

    Mumtaz Yildirimlar
    Creative Director
    MY Production Limited

  21. JOSEPH says

    I am a Nigeria Film maker/writer and producer, based in South Africa. I am seeking international, African distribution or TV station.

    The news movie name is called HONOR (Honor): It is a story about Rape, Murder, Anger, Lust, and Rape Awareness/Campaign and Survival Stories.

    Joseph Nonyelim
    Writer/Producer

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