In the world of indie filmmaking, it sure seems like NetFlix has become the holy grail. But after working with several other filmmakers on their distribution strategy, I really DO NOT think NetFlix offers the indie filmmaker a viable option for distribution.
For starters, in order to get your movie into Netflix, you must first get into their database.
How do you get into the NetFlix database?
This is the secret sauce. But having personal relationships with the acquisitions folks, great queue demand and an awesome movie can be beneficial. The bottom line is, NetFlix is very discriminatory about what movies get into their database.
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 ask for your movie in their Netflix Queue. This 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, I think what they are doing is genius. NetFlix is able to predict demand and also acquire movies for minimal dollars. But from a filmmaking perspective, I think there are better solutions.
While it may be cool to have my titles available in NetFlix, the crappy deals they offer just aren’t worth it. Some of my filmmaker friends argue that getting into NetFlix is good because being there will promote word of mouth. To that, I usually respond that piracy is also good for word of mouth. And it involves a lot less headaches.
What are your experiences with NetFlix distribution?