IFH 397: Predatory Film Distributors – The Netflix Guarantee Scam



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It was brought to my attention that there are predatory film aggregators and distributors out there selling promises that they don’t intend to keep.

Yes, I know shocking. The question on most indie filmmaker’s mind is…

How To Sell A Movie To Netflix?

Specifically, I came across a few film aggregators, and use the term “aggregator” extremely loosely, that were promising filmmakers that if they use their service they could guarantee their film would be placed on Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, etc.

“THIS IS 100% BS!”

In this episode, I’ll breakdown the predatory tactics they use and will follow the money so you can see how the sausage is made using this scam.

Some of these “aggregators” have no experience in film aggregation AT ALL. No history working with filmmakers. I mean they just buy a URL, open shop, use a fancy website and promise indie filmmakers the world. You need to do your homework. You need to ask around to see if you can find anyone who has done business with them. You can reach out to the amazing community of indie filmmakers over at the Private Facebook Group: Protect Yourself from Predatory Film Distributors/Aggregators and see if they have any insight.

It’s just not predatory aggregators, we can’t forget the predatory film distributors.  These companies promise you this and that but never deliver. If it’s not in the agreement it doesn’t matter what they tell you. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Speak to a qualified entertainment attorney with an expertise in film distribution.

As I stated last year, when the economic situation in the world changes predatory film aggregators and distributors will become more and more desperate.

Stay vigilante out there tribe. Sharks are around every corner.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
It was brought to my attention recently that there were some pop up film aggregators. Can you believe this pop up film aggregators, who were targeting independent filmmakers and trying to get them to use their service to get you know, on the on the different platforms. Now, the thing that I was, I noticed about a handful of these that I was actually looking at was that they, they were promising access to Netflix, who to be Pluto, and a couple of other big s VOD, and a VOD platforms. And sure, they also included Amazon and iTunes in there as well. But, but when they were guaranteeing that they would get you in, or at least the way they worded it seemed like they were guaranteeing you to get access to Netflix, Hulu and to be for example, I want to make something extremely clear. That is a straight up lie. There is no company. And I'm saying this very straight, I can't make it any clear. There is no film aggregation company, nor distributor that can guarantee placement in Netflix, Hulu, to be Pluto, or anything like that as a general statement. Sure, some of the bigger studios and some of the bigger distributors might have direct relationships with those companies. And there might be very good chances of you getting in through those companies to Netflix. But the landscape is changing changes so rapidly, especially with Netflix and Hulu, and tubi, where one month, they might want your kind of film. And the next month, they don't. So there's no guarantees, and anyone that says that they can guarantee have them put it in writing period, oh, you can guarantee I could get into Netflix or into Hulu, put it in the agreement, there is a guarantee. And if you can't get into me the contracts null and void or I get a bonus or I get some money back or something along those lines. put them to the test. Because that is the the new way that these predatory aggregators and distributors are trying to bring in filmmakers into their clutches, if you will, by the promise of Netflix, of Hulu, have to be and so on. I mean, I got my first film was was licensed to Hulu. I couldn't do that deal today if I wanted to. If I tried, because Hulu is not buying my kind of films anymore. The one that the my this is Meg, they're not buying that kind of film anymore. They're not buying many independent films anymore, or licensing any independent films anymore, because the game has changed. In 2012, Netflix was buying everything. 2020 not so much. So you have to be very, very careful about what people promise you, specifically distributors, and aggregators. If someone's promising you something, have them, put it down on paper, have them put it down in an agreement. Because if you don't, if they're like, Oh, we can do this. And we could do that. And we can get you on this platform and we can get you on that a bad situation and we can get you this kind of press. If they can't put it in an agreement, then it doesn't exist. It's just lip service. There's no power in your hands, to do anything, any sort of retaliation if they don't follow through with what they verbally said. So have them put it down in an agreement, if that's what they're actually saying. And oh, Let me go back to a couple of these these platforms. Netflix and Hulu, obviously are two of the bigger s VOD platforms here in the United States.

Peacock is coming up isn't is a newer a VOD platform that is starting to come up. It hasn't launched yet as of this recording, but and they are going to eventually start taking in outside content. But that hasn't started yet. But they are going to start doing that I have a good word that that is happening. But the COVID thing has kind of thrown everything into into turmoil for the entire industry in general. So, Avon used to be like to be used to accept anything that you gave them, they put it on, because they needed content. But this is the this is the life cycle of these platforms. At the beginning, they'll buy everything, they'll accept everything. And this includes Amazon, they'll accept anything and everything. Because they're trying to build up their library, they're trying to build up their content, when there's a certain threshold that is hit, that they just have so much content, then they start getting picky, then they even start stopping completely, they even stop accepting new content, because then they start making enough money that they're like, you know what we're going to buy things outright, or we're going to start creating our own content, which we'll own in perpetuity. And I have to worry about these licensing deals, this is the lifecycle of all of these. So now to be in Pluto, are starting started to reach that point where they have so much content that they are now curating where before it wasn't as much curated. Now they're curating content coming in. Amazon prime is a perfect example of that, at the beginning, anything and everything was was allowed up on amazon video, everything. And it didn't care about content and didn't care about anything. And you were getting paid 12 cents, 15 cents an hour of streaming time, and everybody was making obscene amounts of money. But as that world in their their entire library grew so much, that now they're just starting to throw people off, that they don't like that they're not playing anything that has even remotely controversial stuff in it nudity, you know, action that they don't want gone, just gone.

So that is the world that we live in with these platforms. And that a company is going to come in and say, Oh, I can promise you I can get you in this. And that goes for sales agents and sales reps, producers reps, all of those guys, if they say I can guarantee you placement in any of these platforms run away, because there's no guarantee. Now could they submit for you sure, do, they have a better chance than other people possibly. But it's about the wording. It's about how they're planning to do. And I'm going to show I'm going to tell you how these aggregators, these new pop up aggregators are coming up. This is their business model. At the end of the day, they don't really care about you or your movie. Or if you make money or not, they just really don't, they are a service style business. They want to provide you a service. Now, the way that they are marketing to you to sell their service is by promising you access to all of these amazing platforms, all the they're selling you the dream, they're selling you the sizzle, like Hollywood does they sell you the sizzle, but ain't no much not much steak behind it. Now, the reason why they're selling you the sizzle is because their business model is based around a service based business. Meaning that they want to bring in your movie and charge you for QC charge you for delivery, like prepping your files, possibly closed captioning, all these other add on services ala carte services that they can add on to you, and they could charge you 500 bucks, 1000 bucks, that's where they want to make their money. That's where they're going to make their money. And they're going to tell you, they're going to submit you to Netflix. But do you really? And they're going to charge you a bit to try to submit you to this. But are they really going to submit you? Who knows? Maybe Maybe not. I can tell you from the from the distributor debacle that we heard from people that they were charging people that they were going to submit to Netflix and they were never submitted.

So you have to be very, very careful with this. But I wanted you to understand why they're doing it and how their business model works. They're not in the business. They're not making money by you going up on the platforms. That's not where they make their money. They make their money on the encoding, on the QC on the closed captioning. And if you're not educated in the process, they can take you for a ride and their day dangling the golden carrot of Netflix, Hulu, to the Pluto, iTunes and all the other platforms for your movie, they're selling you your dream because they know what you want. They know that you want to be on all these platforms, they know that that's what you want. So that's what they're selling you. So I want you to be very careful with these predatory film aggregators. And of course, the predatory film distributors. And obviously, their business model is, Hey, I'll get you on Netflix, I think we have a really great deal on Netflix, just sign on the dotted line and give me your movie for next seven to 10 years, and no mg upfront. That's what they're using that for. They're using the dangling of the carrot of all these other platforms to just get you locked in and the basically to take your film, and you'll probably never see a dime of their predatory film distributor. So it's all about the agreement. It's all about the paperwork. So always look for a experienced entertainment attorney who has experience specifically in film distribution, to look all over this all all anytime you're dealing with with film distributors, film aggregators, you should be consulting a entertainment attorney that can guide you through this process. All right. So I wanted to bring this guy this to your attention, guys, it is a weird and wacky world that we are living in. And as I said, I was yelling this last year, I kept saying, guys, we are in good economic times, wait until the next crisis hits, and you're going to start seeing more of these predatory tactics start popping up. And what has happened exactly that. And I hate to tell you guys, but we have not seeing the bottom of this by any stretch of the imagination, it's going to get worse. And it's going to get more predatory when it comes to predatory to film distributors, and aggregators, and all aspects of our industry. So you have to be very vigilant in regards to who you give your movie to how you're going to get paid. All of these things be very, very careful, it is going to get worse. This I promise you. But at the end of this, when the the walls of Rome, as I keep saying is burning, when the city is burnt down to the ground when this this old model is finally kind of broken down to its foundation. Hopefully, a new system will be put in place that will help filmmakers have sustainable careers as filmmakers, because they're actually getting paid to do what they love to do. And I also wanted to give you an update that my film distribution confidential course, the course that predatory film distributors do not want you to take is open, I have opened up a launch beta version of the course. And it's at a steep discount. And the for the first 100 tribe members that sign up now you will be helping me build out this course by seeing lessons as I build them. Every week, I'll be adding 1015 lessons as I continue to build out this course and you'll be the first ones to see it and get it at again a steep discount if you want in and it's only open for the first 100 seats after that I will close it and then re release it when it's finally done at the full price. So if you want to head over to indie film hustle.com Ford slash let me in. That's indie film hustle.com Ford slash let me in. Thank you again for listening guys. Be well stay safe out there. And as always keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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