Video on demand distribution has changed everything. That is what I was thinking a few years back when I rented and watched a movie on my iPod. It was a time when video on demand distribution was new. VOD allowed me to directly access pretty much any movie I wanted. And while I didn’t fully understand the implications for indie filmmakers, I knew VOD was going to change everything.
Video On Demand Distribution Changes Everything
After wrapping our first feature, we were like a lot of filmmakers. We had a movie and we needed a deal. In the weeks that followed our film festival run, we received countless film distribution offers, but something seemed off. In exchange for no money we were offered the the validation of acceptance.
All we had to do was sign over the rights to our movie and we could see our movie in stores and video on demand platforms like Amazon and iTunes. The deals looked something to this:
- Give up the rights to your movie for 5-7 years.
- Pay $2k to 5k in “recoupable encoding expenses.”
- Agree to a 30k ambiguous expense cap.
- First monies out go back to the distributor.
- Marketing was limited to asking for “special placement.”
We didn’t take the deal. Since our movie had some buzz we decided to roll the dice and make it available on Amazon. This was a time when “self-distribution” wasn’t sexy. But we quickly learned that cashing royalty checks was more important than garnering industry validation.
Since that time, Amazon has continued to improve their filmmaker friendly approach to filmmakers. And depending on the scope and scale of your project, you can create your own mini movie studio outside of Hollywood. Suffice it to say, this is one of the most exciting times to be a filmmaker. We should all run in the streets cheering.