Online Film Distribution 101 – Download or Stream Your Movie

Online Film Distribution 101 – Download or Stream Your Movie


Here’s a quick primer on making your film available for download or streaming. Download means you make it so that your film will reside on someone’s computer or device. Depending on someone’s internet connection it might take a while for them to access your content, however, this method is good in that once your audience has it, they have it and in high quality. Your film won’t be subject to choppy video, stops and starts etc.

In order to do this all you need is to upload your film to your website, create a link to the file and it’s available for people to download. iTunes is another popular way to make your content available for download onto a PC. iTunes only works with aggregators to get film content, unlike music where they are far more open. So you will have to submit your film to an aggregator who will then submit it to iTunes for approval. Examples of aggregators are Indieflix, Distribber and New Video Group. Oh, that’s another thing to notice, Apple has to approve your film. This process is not instantaneous but I have heard 2 weeks is about the average amount of time. There are ways around this though.

How do I make money on iTunes?

When you make your content available for download, you can charge people before they download it. iTunes has this capability built in. iTunes does a 70%/ 30% split with the content creator getting 70% of the price. The aggregator may take a portion of this depending on their business model or they may just charge you a flat fee for getting it up there. Something else to consider with respect to iTunes is that your content will be available on “only” the 187 million or so iDevices at the time of this writing.

VODO logo

How do I make money on VODO?

VODO is another way to make your film available for download. It leverages BitTorrent the peer-to-peer sharing network (like Napster of yore). All you have to do is upload your film. I am not aware of an approval process. The content will be free, but you can ask people to donate/sponsor you or make related items available for sale. VODO will take a 25% cut. See Sita Sings the Blues or The Yes Men Save the World for good examples of selling related items for free content.

Streaming your film online

Streaming means you make it available without download. Your content is displayed on a player. YouTube and Vimeo are examples of this. Sometimes a user has to wait for the content to load and then it will play, while other players (like Netflix Watch Instantly) use that technology makes it so that your users don’t have to wait for the content to load. It’s my personal favorite. Besides Netflix, sites like YouTube and Vimeo make it fairly easy to upload your content and make it available. Netflix, like iTunes only works with aggregators, so you will have to use one of them to get your content on Netflix. Like iTunes, it’s also subject to approval.

I told you why I like streaming, here is why you should like it. Many players are embeddable so it makes it easy for people to share your content. If a blogger is covering your film, they can include either a trailer or the entire film by embedding the player on their blog. There are some that will allow you to distribute your film on Facebook. YouTube and Vimeo are, Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand are not. It’s also always best to take advantage of people’s need for instant gratification. Streaming does this nicely.

How do you make money streaming your film online?

Here I will just talk about how to do that from the perspective of the capabilities of the technology. There are other ways besides these. Some players will embed ads in your content and you will get money for that. Some players like Hulu will pay some fractional amount every time your content is viewed. Some players like Distrify and Dynamo have monetization built in. This is the best of both worlds, it gives you an ability to monetize your content in a meaningful way and allows your content to be shared easily. They both have embeddable players. You set the price for your viewing of your content over a rental period and upon clicking a person is offered the opportunity to stream your film at a cost. They both do a 70/30 split similar to iTunes. Here’s a How To for Distrify.

Be sure you have the correct distribution rights

If you are totally self-distributing your film then this isn’t an issue for you, but if you aren’t and you want to distribute your film online then you must retain SVOD or streaming video on demand rights to your film. I highly recommend carving these out for yourself.

One thing to note is that for many of these, you’ll have to do your own promotion and marketing. That is, it’s fine and dandy to get your film on iTunes but it doesn’t mean anyone will know it’s there. Apple will not help you in this regard.

In addition, if you put your content up on a site with a lot of other content you have competition for attention.

All righty I think that’s enough for now. Stay tuned for a post on AP Online Film Distribution. In the meantime let me know if you think this is something you might do? If not, why not?


  • Oh great Post really i got many tips from this post.

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  • Beautiful post, I bookmarked this page for later reading and referencing, there’s alot of intuitive details that you put in and find them to be very useful. Keep up the good work!

  • Malaika Mose

    I am really happy to hear this. Are you going to tell us what your film is?

  • Dan P. you nailed you! We should talk, although a mass manufacture of packaged media, we also have digital delivery technology. We give our clients the ability to stream, download, or sell physical product from their own site. Plus we help them get on and monetize the other social media platforms while generating interest and driving traffic back to their own site. Lets talk!

  • Great article! As a mass disc manufacture I have a lot of indie content producing relationships (although declining a bit over the years (; We also have technology however which gives our indie clients a platform to make their content available for purchase both digitally and physically from their own site. Plus we help them take advantage of all the other social platforms and online sites to help generate revenue from, increase interest and direct traffic back to their site. If you have content and are looking to bridge the gap directly to the consumer we should talk… Or if you just need to put your content onto DVD or Blu-rays then I can also help, but I think our digital delivery platform allows you to compete with the big guys while racking in just as much profit.

  • Alex

    I would like to thank whoever wrote this blog, I got my film on iTunes via Distribber and I have paid back my investors and now its all profit, I never would have been in this position without reading this article. Thanks!

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  • Daniel Pellegrino

    great article with a bit more detailed info on other indie film distributors. I couldn’t agree more about self-Marketing. Most indie filmmakers seem to think that just because they get approved and get their content put on streaming platforms such as itunes they think they will make money and all is peachy cream. As you so rightly stated, these streaming platforms will not do the marketing for you! Yes it’s somewhat cool to have your film on itunes but like you said if no one knows about it then it just going to be filed with all the other films on their server. You might as well stream it off your own site and get !00% of the profit 😉 As an indie film producer, the marketing is the most fundamental part of filmmaking… Like any product or business, if no one knows about it, no one will buy it!

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  • Thanks for the advice hey check out the movie I produced ,wrote and star in Welfare to Millionaire trailor on you tube

  • Checkout You can set a price for you film, and get paid for each view. The take 20% but its really not bad. Lets say you charge $5. Youreeeka takes $1. You make $4.

    If you found this helpful, please return the love. Share my new project.

    Thank you,
    Fabio Caetano

  • I am trying to set up a site to sell a anual membership for some sports training videos. Could you direct me to a site or service that might provide that service?


  • I checked out Distrify last month or so and the service seems like a good option for filmmakers. Their website, however, appears to be a little suspect. The computer that I was on had all sorts of errors and sudden weird things going on when I visited that website, which caused me to suspect that they may need to make some improvements in their code or security or something because spam or viruses and such is the last thing that filmmakers need when trying to distribute their films online. Until the shady stuff no longer occurs, I’ll be steering clear of Distrify for the time being, lol. It’s all just very strange.

  • Currently my film is on Distrify, but I’m looking at Vodo as a good option to gain more exposure. Thanks for the article and making people aware of alternative ways to watch films they may never otherwise get to see!

  • Yes they are both good. One thing to consider if whether it’s important that your film be available on iPhones, iPods and iPads. They don’t support Flash and Dynamo appears to be Flash-based as of now.

  • Thanks for your good article. I have been researching the best VOD player for my documentary. Distrify seems to be getting a lot of good reviews. I have to admit though that I prefer the “look” of the Dynamo Player. It’s exciting that at least there are options now!

  • My film is available on DVD. You could watch the trailer by going to

    Brief synopsis:

    Ivan, a Bulgarian refugee, comes to America in
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    This film is an amalgam of Eugene Ionesco, Boris Vian and Kafka.
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    Yavor Batchev