redbox and Indie film

Tweet This is part 1 of a 2 part series in which I talk to redbox Director of Product Eric Litynski about how independent filmmakers can think inside the box with redbox. This part focuses on the minimum requirements for a film to be included, their target market and the most popular films on redbox. In part 2, Eric gives some candid advice to independent filmmakers and the redbox’s online distribution plans. redbox, I think has come up with a great formula which has no doubt attributed to its success. This despite having to acquiesce to movie studios with a 28 day window. If you’ll indulge my hearkening back to my math-intensive roots here’s my take on what it is: Cv + RP – Cm = $ Let me explain. Cv, where Cv stands for Convenience: it can be found neighborhood grocery stores, pharmacies and major retailers. Over 23,000 of them in fact. You get something that you want at a place you have to go to anyway. RP, where RP stands for Right Price They found a great price point at a dollar a day.  Cm, where Cm stands for Commitment. I mean do you really need another commitment? Another userid/password/subscription to manage? Just walk up to the kiosk, get your movie and you’re done. So this is all good for redbox and its consumers, but what about you independent filmmakers? How easy is it for you to tap into the redbox market with your film? What is the redbox market anyway? Eric Litynski, Director of Product for redbox answers these questions and more below. He gives some...

Jobs: People want ‘Hollywood’ movies

Tweet I cringed when I heard Steve Jobs say that during yesterday’s much anticipated Apple TV announcement. Now I am not sure if by Hollywood he was referring to quality or land of origin but I was a little concerned for Indie filmmakers when I heard it. Contrast this with Boxee’s more inclusive approach. He went on to say ‘They don’t want amateur hour’, which I found kind of interesting because for most that’s what YouTube is synonymous with and Apple TV has YouTube support.  All is not lost though, before I tell you why, let me tell you what was announced. A new social network for music lovers called Ping that’s integrated into iTunes which means it’s on all the iTunes devices too including the phones. A gang of updated iPods, including one that has Facetime and HD video recording and some fantastic photograph support. An Apple TV update. Where what was updated was the price (now down to $99), its business model, rentals only no purchases, competitive pricing for these rentals and its selection of content which is only slightly better than it was before. It also supports NetFlix and YouTube. What is puzzling some is why they didn’t base it on iOS. If they had it would have been much easier for you as an independent filmmaker to get your content on Apple TV. You would just create an app. But it’s not, so you can’t. Like I said, all is not lost, here are your options for getting your content on Apple TV: Work with a distributor or aggregator who can get your film on...

If you like Indie movies, Boxee’s got ‘em

Tweet As of August 25, Boxee has added a movie library. By downloading the latest version of the Boxee software, your Movie menu option is refreshed with content from MUBI (formerly known as The Auteurs), EZTakes, Indie Movies Online and Openfilm, all very independent film friendly sites. This is pretty exciting because prior to this it only searched your computer’s library of films. Boxee, for those who don’t know, is media center software that runs on your computer and more recently, a set top box. The interface is really easy to use but truthfully I hadn’t had much use for when it didn’t have any movies. I look forward to many hours discovering cool films and not signing up for all of the aforementioned sites individually. Most of the movies being offered are free and some are ad-supported. According to GigaOM, They should have more premium content by the end of 2010. Do you use Boxee? Would you consider distributing your content on...

Embrace diversity, put your film on mobile phones

Tweet This is a touchy subject. Well, I guess the whole idea of watching a film on anything but a large screen inside a dark theater is touchy for some. I know there are those (usually filmmakers) who believe that is an abomination to watch a film on such a tiny screen. Depending on the film you definitely lose something by watching it on a very small screen but I assure you, as a pure consumer (i.e. one who can barely take a good still picture much less film anything, but likes to watch films) I only care about accessing the content when I want to. I don’t care how big or small the screen is (within reason of course). Maybe filmmakers should consider the fact that their stories will now be experienced on screens of all sizes and take that into consideration during their storytelling? The fact that CNET has a category called Best Video Phones should say a lot in case it doesn’t though, think of all the people you will be excluding by resisting making your content available on these devices: People who are scared of the dark People who don’t like crowds People who don’t want to cough up whatever it costs to see a movie in a theater nowadays People who don’t feel like driving to a theater People who travel a lot People who don’t want to endure missing key parts of the movie because folks are yelling at the screen. You know who you are screen yellers. People who like to rewind or pause because they missed a key part of the...

Making your film available for download? It could cost you.

Tweet After reading this Engadget article I wondered if an independent filmmaker using would have pay MPEG-LA if they chose to stream their film in H.264 format from their own website for a fee. H.264 is the format used by Blu-ray players , YouTube and iTunes, web software such as the Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight. In other words it’s quite pervasive. BTBO: If an independent filmmaker would like to make his/her film available for download or streaming from his/her own website at a cost using the  H.264 codec would s/he have to pay a royalty to MPEG-LA? In short, the answer I got was yes. In long: Thank you for your message and for your interest in MPEG LA.  We appreciate hearing from you and will be happy to assist you. As you are aware, MPEG LA offers our AVC Patent Portfolio License which provides coverage under patents that are essential for use of the AVC/H.264 Standard (MPEG-4 Part 10).  Under the AVC License, coverage is provided for end products and video services that include AVC/H.264 functionality.  Accordingly, the party offering such end products and services to end users (e.g., under the party’s own brand name) concludes the AVC License and is responsible for paying the applicable royalties associated with the branded products/video service they offer. Therefore, if a party offers AVC/H.264 video content to End Users for remuneration, then the party offering such AVC Video will need to be licensed and may be responsible for paying the applicable royalty associated with the AVC Video they distribute. For example, when AVC video is offered on a Subscription basis,...

Freakonomics going to iTunes first, then theaters

Tweet Things like this make me smile. It shows that traditional windows are not just being shortened but completely rearranged and they should be. Just like there is no successful one size fits all marketing plan for a film, so too there is no one size all distribution plan. For the people behind Freakonomics at Magnolia Pictures that might mean taking it to theaters but only after an On Demand, Apple iTunes, Xbox Live, Playstation, Amazon and Vudu on launch a month earlier. This isn’t the first time they have done it either. They will be repeating a strategy that they did with Centurion, starring Dominic West. It was made available on demand July 23, more than a month before it was to open in theaters. New York Times has a great article looking at the increasing tendency to use on Demand prior to theatrical release for distribution. See the trailer for Freakonomics below. It’s in theaters October 1st, on Demand, iTunes, etc September...
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