According to stories in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, Vimeo will offer advances of $10,000 to any of the 146 world premiere films screening in the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in exchange for a brief exclusive period of exclusive VOD rights on their Vimeo on Demand platform. This continues Vimeo’s push to market itself as a destination for exclusive independent film content that it began at SXSW in announcing the Vimeo on Demand service and acquiring Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s). Is this a good deal for independent filmmakers?
I love short films—both making them and watching mind-blowing shorts from other filmmakers. Pound-for-pound, short films are my favorite format. I want to make more and see more. Unfortunately, the real world is getting in the way. Even though short films seem like the ideal format for today’s social-media attention spans, they just don’t get made or distributed in a way that lets them be an ongoing, viable art form. So—even though they create a lot of entertainment value for audiences—filmmakers aren’t capturing much meaningful return from that. As a result, filmmakers can only create new short films sporadically or as a brief stop along the way to some other career. If we could find a way to solve this problem, then filmmakers like myself who love the art form could continue making short films that audiences would love and benefit from. Everyone would win.
Vimeo has just launched its new VOD service that offers an exciting new potential for independent filmmakers to release their works online for pay. But how good is the deal really and where does it fit in the landscape of existing services? Let’s take a look.
Why VOD matters
Not long ago, VOD was a little throw-away right that got included in film sales but often didn’t even get exploited, let alone bring in any money—at least where independent films were concerned. So why the growing interest now? Because DVDs are dead.
Because DVDs are dead.
I had to say it twice. It’s kind of a big deal. DVDs—essentially the entire Home Video nut that spawned the independent film movement (back in the VHS/Betamax days) and has sustained it till now, is dead. People don’t really buy ‘em anymore. Wait a minute, you say, You are wrong! My cousin knows a guy who bought a DVD just a couple years ago…
Sure, a few DVDs still get sold. For blockbuster films. Or for very niche stuff that is more movement than entertainment. But if you have an independent film without stars then as far as mainstream distributors are concerned, DVDs are dead. You aren’t going to be making any money off them from distributors, but you’re welcome to make your own and sell them on your web site if you want. …And that brings us back to VOD.
VOD will be the new DVD
When was the last time you bought a DVD, then popped it into your player and watched it? I’m willing to bet that you’ve watched a video on your computer or mobile phone a lot more recently than that. VOD—whether it be via iTunes, online, or your cable system—is the future of home video. So why make DVDs of your independent film or series to sell through snail mail when you can sell a link to a downloadable file instead? You can save the postage, fulfillment costs, inventory, and time. And your customers can watch it right away and on whatever device they wish to.
For the past several years I have dedicated ever increasing mental resources to figuring out how best to connect with an audience for Popular Uprising’s independent series in a way that allows us to keep producing these series in a reasonable amount of time, with high production values, working with (and paying!) good people and do it all without ending up living on the street. Throughout this process, Mr. Louis CK has been blazing a new trail. And I love him for it!
Promoting Your Film—and Yourself—at Film Festivals: Tips You Only Learn After Your 20th Film Festival.
The other day I was attending a film panel at SIFF, moderated by filmmaker, attorney, and all-around-great-guy Steve Edmiston. After the panel, Steve and I were talking with a few filmmakers who were newer at festivals when Steve started busting out with all these great tips for how to navigate a festival your first few times. I realized that there were a lot of things that I just took for granted about festivals after having attended way more than I care to remember. But I can still recall that feeling I had in my first few film festivals that I probably could have done a lot more, better, and had more fun doing it if I’d just known a little more going in.
So, until someone comes up with a definitive film festival attendee’s playbook, I’ve asked Steve to join me in listing some of our favorite tips for getting the most out of a film festival. (continue reading…)