SXSW ’13 Interview – Getting Paid for Your Indie Film by Fandor

Tweet Part of the fun of SXSW is not just the sessions, the films, the Chevys and the parties but the people you meet, waiting in line for films. Such was the case for Jonathan Marlow of online distribution platform Fandor and me. We were waiting to see press screeners at this year’sSXSW and voila an interview was born! Check it out below. It’s in 5 parts. This is Part 2. Check out Part 1. BTBO: How does it work? JM: Nearly all of our agreements are non-exclusive. However, we have a number of what I refer to as de facto exclusives where individual filmmakers have made a licensing arrangement with us but they have no great desire to do any other deals. Or, perhaps explained somewhat better, filmmakers who have otherwise been reluctant to distribute their work digitally are ultimately convinced to do a deal with us and then they’re not inclined to work with anyone else. We also have a number of folks who approach me after they’ve done a deal with Fandor and ask, “Is it okay if somebody approached us about making our film available elsewhere?” We encourage our partners to license their work whenever and wherever they’re able. If I were someone that made shoes, I wouldn’t try to sell them only in one place. I’d want them available wherever people who were looking for shoes would go. If you’re a filmmaker, you should want your work in front of the people who want to see films. BTBO: You mentioned that your model is very different. How do filmmakers get paid? Is it a lump sum?  JM: I would say that there...

What Keeps Filmmakers Up at Night

Tweet This is a guest post by Jade Waddy of Mutinee. United Kingdom based Mutinee is an independent film sharing network. Over the past decade, the art of film making has changed radically in line with the nature of technological advancements. The independent filmmaker today faces a wider set of challenges than ever before. In the face of declining cinema numbers, the proliferation of video websites such as YouTube and the speed with which content can be shared via social media, it is harder and harder for a film to gain the attention it needs, firstly to be created and secondly to be watched by an audience. There are three common problems which an independent filmmaker may face. These are exposure for fundraising, production and marketing. Let us examine each in turn. Exposure for Fundraising Nowadays, many independent films are funded through a process known as ‘Crowdfunding’. This is where many different people contribute to the creation of a film. With even a low budget film costing thousands of pounds to create, edit and finish in post production, many individuals or organisations are required to fund a film. So, a filmmaker will have to devote much time to firstly raising awareness of the proposed film and then persuading people to chip in. In a world where many things provide instant gratification, explaining why a low-budget film is worth investing in to those not versed in the art of storytelling is often a tricky task. Production  Once filmmakers have secured funding, they are then faced with new challenges on set. Digital technology has advanced so rapidly that in order to...
SXSW ’13 Interview – Submitting Your Film to Fandor

SXSW ’13 Interview – Submitting Your Film to Fandor

Tweet Part of the fun of SXSWis not just the sessions, the films, the Chevys and the parties but the people you meet, waiting in line for films. Such was the case for Jonathan Marlow of online distribution platform Fandor and me. We were waiting to see press screeners at this year’sSXSW and voila an interview was born! Check it out below. It’s in 5 parts. This is Part 1. BTBO: What do you do for Fandor? JM: I co-founded the company with Dan Aronson and Albert Reinhardt. We created the founding principles in mid-2009, launched the beta version of the service in September 2010 and debuted Fandor to the public at SXSW six months later. Albert comes from a design and product background and Dan is a technologist and serial entrepreneur. I bring the entertainment industry side of the equation and I am responsible for film acquisitions. Every film that appears on Fandor passes by my desk at some point. BTBO: And how many films are on Fandor right now? JM: There are nearly 4,000 films available on Fandor at the moment. As a curated service, we are always looking for great documentaries and narrative films from around the world. We’re duration agnostic–we have films that are less than a minute in length to one that is twelve hours long–and we’re not particularly concerned about the year in which they were made (though recent releases tend to perform quite a bit better than older films). We’re also very particular about the quality of what we make available on the service. In many cases, we’ve licensed a film and we’re waiting for...
The Future of Film: True Independence

The Future of Film: True Independence

Tweet This is a guest post by Emily Best, of Seed&*Spark a new community/platform for crowdfunding and distributing your film online. My introduction to the world of film distribution was nothing short of terrifying. At a distribution panel at SVA in early 2009, I sat in the audience and watched three out of four panelists, defeated, their heads in their hands, saying, “There just is no silver bullet like iTunes for film. The numbers just don’t work. We don’t honestly know what to do.” It was pretty dire. But the fourth panelist, attorney and sales agent Steven C. Beer (the only one who didn’t look scared) said, “Look, filmmakers are going to have to work harder for less money.” I thought maybe I didn’t want be be in film after all. But over the last few years I have come to understand that what he was saying was, in fact, the great hope for film: true independence that might mean smaller “box office” numbers but much larger returns directly to the filmmaker. Making movies is hard! Fundraising is hard. Production is hard. Post-production is more inundated with digital options every millisecond. But nothing, NOTHING is harder than actually getting an audience to watch your movie, no matter what the budget is. Today, the market is more fragmented than ever. Tens of thousands of independent films are made per year. To be sure, not all of them are necessarily worthy of an audience, but they’re competing for it anyway. About 1% of those films get picked up for traditional distribution. That means more than half of the films that premiere at...
Dennis Dortch on the Secrets of Web Series Success

Dennis Dortch on the Secrets of Web Series Success

Tweet Here is an excerpt of an interview I did with Dennis Dortch, that’s posted in full on Filmmaker Magazine’s blog.   Dennis Dortch is the director of the Sundance film A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy, available to watch onNetflix now. He also has created a veritable empire on YouTube with his channel Black & Sexy TV consisting of two successful web series, The Couple and The Number, and two more on the way. He and his team are currently crowdfunding a film based on The Couple. In this interview he talks about the difference between creating a film and creating content for the Web, how to juggle multiple web series at a time and how to keep an audience with an increasingly short attention-span engaged. BTBO: I saw in a previous interview that you were originally interested in the music business but switched to film. Are you happy with your choice? How involved are you in choosing the music for your content? Dortch: Yes. I feel that I didn’t have to make a choice. I’m not developed as a hands on producer as I always dreamed…but I am the music supervisor for all of our content. It’s all my sensibilities and the throwback SOS Band-like theme song for RoomiesLoversFriends was my vision. I put the recording artist/producer dream team of Allegra Dolores and Lukecage together to make it happen. BTBO: How does your experience doing the film A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy differ from doing Web series–creatively and from a business point of view? Dortch: Creatively, it’s no different. Especially since I did vignettes for the film. The webisodes are just vignettes to me. Same approach. And I like the freedom of it....

PreScreen Shuttering Its Doors?

Tweet Today I received this email from the folks over at prescreen. For those who don’t know prescreen is an online distribution platform for indie film and the sponsor of Jon Reiss’ latest book. They use a slightly different model from other online video platforms. You can read more about it here. I won’t lie this took me by surprise because I just spoke to the founder at SXSW back in March. In the meantime, any of you using prescreen now, what do you think? Prescreen Notice of Change of Service Please be advised that on Thursday, May 31, 2012, Prescreen will be suspending our initial beta test until further notice. We very much appreciate your interest in our service and hope that you enjoyed your experience with Prescreen. In early 2011, we started Prescreen because we believed the future of film discovery and distribution is digital. Last September, we launched the beta version of our site to test this premise. In just 8 months, we proved that this is likely to be the case. In total, Prescreen featured 168 films, rented more than 10,000 movies, and saw more than 115,000 subscribers opt in to receive Prescreen movies. That said, we’re perfectionists and we still don’t believe we’ve seized the opportunity. For now, we’re going back to the drawing board. When we come out on the other side, we’ll be sure to let you know. Team Prescreen thanks you for your support from the bottom of our digital hearts Best, Team...
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