Secrets of Selling Your Movie Online (Don’t Get Screwed)

Today’s question comes from a filmmaker who is puzzled over how to sell his movie online.

Since the world of video on demand distribution is changing the ways in which movies are seen and sold, having a solid distribution strategy that you can implement is essential for success. And selling your movie online is going to be a big part of your strategy.

Question: When deciding on how to sell your movie, what are the advantages to DVD, On Demand and Video Downloads?

Response: Congratulations on realizing that the world in which movies are seen in selling is changing fast. When you are ready to sell your movie, the first thing you have to decide is whether or not you want to hold out for a dream distribution deal.

Selling Your Movie Online

Selling Your Movie Online

After helping over 100 filmmakers get their movies to market, I can tell you most filmmakers wait for a dream distribution deal. And as a result, the typical time between film festivals and selling your movie online takes 5-7 months!

This is because many distributors and sales agents come out of the woodwork and tell you that your gazillion dollar check is right around the corner – So you better sit around and do nothing!

I don’t agree.

In fact, I personally think this “wait and see” philosophy is hogwash.

And here’s why. After waiting months and months, many of these traditional distributors circle back and with some sort of strategy for selling your movie online… A strategy that you could have executed yourself.

“We are going to get you onto Amazon and iTunes. And we will try to get you special placement.”

Take Your Movie To Market

If you’re ready to take your own movie to market, I have good news. The market is accessible. And in my opinion the easiest market to access is also one of the largest in the world. If you go to CreateSpace (they pay me  to promote) you can get your movie onto Amazon.

Simply sign up for a free account. From there you will decide if you want to sell your movie as a video-on-demand rental, video-on-demand download, DVD, or combination of all three. You will then enter information about your movie and upload artwork.

When complete you will be given a title ID that you will use to label a simple autoplay DVD that you will send to Amazon. In roughly 2 months your movie will be available within the Amazon marketplace.

The only challenge with CreateSpace is – While the service is pretty straight forward, they aren’t set up to deliver high definition. To do this, you will need to go through an aggregator with a direct relationship at Amazon.

Find A Video On Demand Aggregator

In addition to Amazon, there are many other marketplaces for selling your movie online. My bias leans towards iTunes, Hulu, some web based transactional players and possibly cable video on demand.

To access these marketplaces you will you need to utilize a video on demand aggregator. Your aggregator will then send you a list of the appropriate deliverable specifications.

The aggregator typically works with an encoding house. And the encoders are looking for an uncompressed video file, high-resolution artwork and selling points they can utilized to make the pitch to the various platforms.

Depending on the marketplaces you choose, it could take anywhere from three to six months to see your title live.

The reason for this oftentimes has more to do with technical challenges than your content. When it comes to selling your movie online, many of the platforms are very strict about the quality of the viewer’s experience.  And if even one frame does not match specification, the encoding house  will have to pull your content for repairs.

This creates significant delays.

Execute A Movie Marketing Strategy

Assuming you go the distance and get your movie into the various marketplaces as both DVD On Demand and Video Downloads you will still need to implement a marketing strategy. Your goal is to use your movie website as a hub.

You will work both online and offline to drive targeted traffic to your site, and then funnel that traffic towards a desired point-of-sale, such as Amazon, Hulu or iTunes. Additionally, you may choose to also include an embeddable player right on your movie’s website.

At times selling your movie online can seem like a whole bunch of confusion. If that’s how you feel, you may want to download my sell your movie checklist. In it, you’ll get a more detailed overview of modern film distribution.

How Do I Sell My Movie On Amazon?

If you ever asked yourself: How do I sell my movie on Amazon, you are not alone.

One of our Filmmaking Stuff readers wrote in, asking some very good questions about how to find a VOD platform and how to choose a website domain. Here is the question:

I have had one frustrating year of trying to launch my film for sale onto the internet and I am really interested in what you have to offer. After listening to your audio downloads and having read your blog, I have many questions running through my head. How do I sell my movie on Amazon? Aren’t they a middleman? So how much of a fee do they charge? Also, my film is 700 MB big and will I be able to upload onto whatever you are offering? And I have not bought a domain name for the film yet. I am thinking of using GoDaddy.com. How many years should I subscribe for the domain?

– – –

First of all, congratulations on finishing your film. This is a feat that very few filmmakers get to experience. And it is something that you should be proud of.

In response to your movie distribution questions, there are quite a few platforms that allow you to promote and sell your movie online. Since you mentioned Amazon, let’s start there.

If you live in the United States, it is fairly easy to get your movie seen and selling in the Amazon marketplace.

Before I go further – just know the companies I’m about to mention pay me to promote.

Sell Your Movie On Amazon

Sell Your Movie  On Amazon

Simply visit CreateSpace and send them a copy of your DVD.

In addition to Amazon, I recommend you research both iTunes and Hulu as two other options.

Hulu operates on a slightly different model than Amazon and iTunes. Unlike transactional video-on-demand platforms, Hulu operates in ways similar to traditional TV.

Their revenue is based on advertisements. After submitting your movie to Hulu, they will then pepper your movie with blocks of advertisements. Hulu then splits ad revenue with the filmmaker.

If you are based outside the United States, and you wish to enter the US Amazon marketplace,  you will have to go through a third party, US based aggregator. One such company is called Distribber.

Regarding your question related to website domains, GoDaddy.com is a pretty straightforward service.

sell your movieHowever,  if you are looking for a way to reserve both your domain and hosting, I also recommend researching bluehost.com – In full disclosure, while both of these companies are good, they do pay me to promote. So make sure you conduct your own due diligence.

In terms of length, I suggest that you reserve your website domain for at least two years, if not longer.

If you need additional help, check out the Indie Producers Guide on How To Sell Your Movie.

CreateSpace Phone Number

If you are looking for film distribution,  CreateSpace offers a great way to access the Amazon marketplace.

But if you have gone through the process, you probably also know that finding the CreateSpace Phone number and reaching someone in the customer service department can be frustrating…

Not anymore. CreateSpace has established a Member Support to help you with you film distribution needs. They offer phone and e-mail support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can call CreateSpace directly at (843) 760-8199. Keep in mind that charges may apply.

Additionally, if you are in the US or Canada – you can simply log into your member area and click “Contact Support.” From there, choose “Call Me!” to speak to a representative.

For those of you outside the US, you can send a Support Request with your international phone number. From there, CreateSpace will phone you.

Nice work CreateSpace! This was necessary and useful to the filmmaking community!

Sell Your Movie For Maximum Profit

If you’re already a seasoned feature filmmaker, take a moment and think back: Do you remember when the idea of making movies seemed like a far away dream?

Do you remember when you first got the idea for your movie? Do you remember Your first day of production? Do you remember your first screening and how well everyone loved your work?

That happened to me with my first feature. Like you, I thought our movie would get into Sundance, play well, build buzz and if we were really lucky, we had hoped the movie would garner us a 3 picture deal. But that didn’t happen.

Sure, we got some offers, but they were not “deals.” (A deal actually pays money!)

So instead of exchanging our movie for an empty promise, we decided to try selling our movie on the internet. Little did I know, this one decision has changed the course of my movie making life. That was five years ago…

And since that time, the internet as evolved. If you’re a filmmaker with a movie, you need to get it selling in all the popular internet marketplaces, including Amazon and iTunes.

You don’t need a middle-man to make this profitable. I am going to show you my internet marketing secrets…

You can check out my “How To Sell Your Movie” system by visiting the website here.

Amazon Film Distribution

Image representing Amazon EC2 as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Amazon Film Distribution is easy to access. Over the last ten years, there have been a gazillion changes in the ways movies are made. But the one area I’m most excited about is Video On Demand. I frankly don’t remember how I lived without the technology.

As a filmmaker, this technology offers us enormous opportunity to not only make our movie – but with a couple clicks of a mouse, we can now reach a global audience — well, sort of.

Unfortunately there are still a few limitations to our global reach. I’ve mentioned CreateSpace quite a bit in the past. In fact, their advertisements seem to pop up frequently on this site. I love it that you can upload a VOD movie into the Amazon marketplace. But I think a few things still need improvement. Let me explain.

1. Lag time – For one of our projects, it took CS around six months to get our movie into the Amazon marketplace.
2. Marketing – Once in, there was tremendous lag time in getting our information correctly placed on the Amazon detail page. (I’m still getting this worked out.)
3. Trailer- And instead of presenting your movie trailer, the Amazon preview plays the first 2 minutes of your movie. So you better hope you hook em’ fast.
4. Audience – With CS/Amazon VOD, you are limited to a US only audience.
5. Reporting Sales – The sales reporting is not even close to real time – There is at least a 30 day wait to find out if your movie is selling.

Still, all of this aside, the tremendous upside to CreateSpace is having your movie featured in the Amazon Marketplace while carrying NO inventory. When people buy or rent your movie, all you gotta do is collect the cash.

In a more-perfect world of Independent Film Distribution, iTunes would open the flood gates and allow all feature filmmakers to upload their work. However, at the time of writing, getting your finished feature film into iTunes is still a pain in the butt. With few exceptions, the company seems to favor traditional distributors over the indie producer. So if you one day dream of having your movie viewed on someone’s iPhone, you’ll still have to find a middle-man and ask permission…

If you want more information on Independent Film Distribution, check out The Indie Guide to Digital Self Distribution written by me.