That was the thought running through my head a few years back when I watched a James Bond movie on my very small iPod. It was a time when video on demand distribution was new. The idea of consuming media without a physical DVD seemed weird.
As a filmmaker, I was adjusting to the new paradigm… Video on demand distribution allowed me to directly access my audience. I hadn’t yet realized that we had the power.
Like many filmmakers with an independent movie and no deal, I received countless offers to give up my VOD distribution rights to bottom-feeding distribution companies. The offer was seductive. These aggregators promised inclusion on Amazon and iTunes and other anonymous marketplaces.
In exchange for almost no money, I was offered the the validation of acceptance. All I had to do was sign over my rights… And if I refused, what could I do?
This got me thinking. Let’s pretend I wasn’t seeking VOD distribution for my movie. Let’s pretend instead that I wanted to open my own frozen yogurt shop. Would I still ask permission to sell my yogurt? Probably not. Instead of asking someone to sell my yogurt for me, I would pick up a sign, pass out flyers and get press coverage. I would partner with other complementary businesses. I would work to get people into my store.
Why should the independent movie business be any different?
Yet as filmmakers, we have the tendency to fork over our rights based solely on the promise of some crappy distribution deal. Don’t get me wrong – the key word is CRAPPY. If you are fortunate enough to get a good deal, you should take it. But if all you’re getting is crap – like those traditional deals that snag your rights for seven years and never pay.
Why do filmmakers accept crappy video on demand distribution deals?
Because in the old days we have been conditioned to believe that adding a middleman will magically create revenue beyond what the filmmaker could otherwise create on their own. And that’s stupid.
These days you can sell your movie directly to your audience.
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If you are a filmmaker with a movie, before you give up your filmmaking rights, check out this website: www.MovieDistributionCompany.com