The Tidbits this week will be bolstered by CASE STUDIES and real numbers  to come after the initial releases have completed. These TidBits are the conclusion of our first DISTRIBUTION TIDBITS series and a bit of a general overview of how to blend traditional distribution with new DIY  opportunities.

FOREIGN (OUTSIDE US DISTRIBUTION): TFC usually employs a hybrid approach when it comes to distributing films outside of the US.  There is still a lot a distributor in another country can do with your film that you cannot do yourself, i.e. theatrical and non-theatrical,  additional festivals per territory are harder to suss , and of course 
retail DVD and often TV etc. To balance things out, TFC often combines licensing rights to distributors with some DIY. For example, we make sure filmmakers can sell off their own site (we can help facilitate that) and also have the right to get the film onto any 
digital platforms that the distributors cannot and we can facilitate a worldwide iPhone App and other Apps which also allow for direct digital distribution in many countries around the world. We also aggregate directly and through our partners to key digital platforms available worldwide.

TFC helps filmmakers with foreign sales  and will also soon have a booth at key sales markets. If you are going with another sales company, we will help you not get stuck in an abusive deal or one that recoups excessive costs at your expense of  reasonable revenue.  And many buyers will buy directly from filmmakers  if they are properly motivated, thus decreasing the need for a sales agent.

New Video-They are choosy about the films they represent and they charge 15% of all revenue generated.

IndieFlix- They go through New Video and charge a 30% Fee on all revenue generated (we think that’s inclusive of the New Video fee but are waiting to confirm).

Indie Rights- They go through New Video and charge a 20% fee in addition to the New Video fee.

IndieRights and IndieFlix also work with platforms other than iTunes as do we at TFC so that should be factored in when making distribution decisions.

Tunecore-Aggregates straight to iTunes. Distribber uses Tunecore to access iTunes. Distribber charges a flat fee of $1,295 for iTunes and all the revenue flows back to the filmmaker, no backend fees. TFC uses Tunecore and works with Distribber as a partner (we are working with them for no extra charge to filmmakers).

Gravitas- A VOD / digital aggregator (who often goes through Warner Bros), they will handle your iTunes submission, but that’s two fees (each at 15% as we understand it and they claim that Warner Bros and studios in general get better revenue even from Apple).

Warner Bros and Lionsgate- TFC works with Lionsgate and it seems that both have more marketing leverage (as does New Video)  to get best promotion possible on iTunes. This can make a big difference and should be factored in along with analysis of backend splits and fees.

TFC works with both the flat fee and commission models because of the fact that when cable VOD or even sometimes DVD is a valuable option, regular digital often goes with them.

Windows are a reference to release windows, the prescribed time gaps between which films are released in different media. Make windowing deliberate rather than confusing the customer with scattered pricing in different formats and releases.

The preferred release schedule should be: Cable & Satellite VOD; then Transactional; then Rental; then Ad-Supported platforms; then Mobile/Wireless. In the next tidbits, there will be examples of each of these platforms.

Some platforms can be accessed via Self Distribution (e.g. Youreeeka or Maxcast) while others can only be accessed via an aggregator (e.g. Netflix, and iTunes, which at the moment is by far the greatest revenue generating platform in the digital distribution space). Some aggregators are better than others and some distributors and aggregators take lower fees than others. Choosing the best platform/portal for your film must be done with care and must also take into account the type of film it is and its overall release plan.

Much of this information can be found within our Digital Distribution Guide, available to our members. For this week, you can gain access to the full Guide by contributing $35 to our IndieGoGo campaign.

THE FILM COLLABORATIVE is the first non-profit, full-service provider dedicated to the distribution of independent film, including narrative features, documentaries and shorts where no rights are taken from the creator. In this tidbit series, we hope to give good insight into the world of digital distribution in a way that is helpful to the filmmaker.

Digital platforms should be treated like online visual media stores, not distributors. For this reason, one should be very mistrustful if a company asks for exclusive license rights. Even when dealing with aggregators, they should only have exclusive rights to get the film onto specific platforms and at most they can ask you to follow specific windows in handling other platforms (By way of comparison, such a request from a brick-and-mortar video store such as Blockbuster would be occasional at best, and then they would pay a lot for that and it would only be for a short window of time, such as six (6) months).

Much of this information can be found within our Digital Distribution Guide, available to our members. For this week, you can gain access to the full Guide by contributing $35 to our IndieGoGo campaign.

Getting Your Film On iTunes

September 18, 2009
posted by sheric

iTunes logoWhile talking with a short filmmaker recently, I suggested that he try some digital distribution via iTunes. I know that it isn’t very easy to use iTunes as a filmmaker in that it will involve using an aggregate company since Apple will not deal with indie filmmakers directly. Here is a partial list I have compiled of companies currently handling iTunes submissions. Of course, a small percentage of sales will go to each company handling the distribution, but since iTunes has considerable reach, I think it is worth it to profit share.

I have not personally vetted each company represented so I encourage you to do your own research and ask for feedback from other filmmakers who have dealt with them. I am sure this is not an exhaustive list as companies are getting new agreements every day. If you know of other companies not mentioned, please add them in comments.

While I am in the middle of organizing the filmmaker troops and taking advantage of any promotional opportunity that arises to publicize LA Shorts Fest 09, I wanted to share some interesting video I found today thanks to Orly Ravid’s site New American Vision. It is a panel discussion with many heavy hitters, and up and coming ones, regarding the digital distribution landscape for filmmakers. If you have 30 minutes or so for each, give them a look.