IFH 449: How to Making Money Distributing Your Indie Film with Ben Yennie

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Our guest today is no stranger to the show. Ben Yennie was my very first guest on the podcast and he returned this week to discuss the current state affairs of film distribution and his newest venture, Mutiny Pictures which is a full-service film distribution firm.

Ben Yennie is an author, film distributor, and producer rep with a high offer rate on films he’s represented at the American Film Market. After forging a successful career as a producer rep for some of Hollywood’s big talent names in the biz, he opted to go the distribution route. 

He is also the author of The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget, The First ever book on Film Markets, and used as a text at about 10 film schools.

Mutiny Pictures was launched in June 2020 to build transparent, modern development, sales, and distribution relationships with big pay-TV providers, and physical media retailers – prioritizing diverse filmmakers and stories to help move the industry into the world post-COVID-19. 

There are rapid changes affecting film distribution via theaters for independent filmmakers amidst COVID. Adjustment to new distribution models is a top issue these days.

We discussed the proliferation of virtual cinemas (PVOD) and building infrastructures towards that focus because theaters can not survive these COVID times and they may not meet head-to-head with VODs post-covid. So how can independent filmmakers adopt and better position themselves to the evolution of film distribution?

Enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie.

Alex Ferrari 0:47
Today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Ben Yennie. Now Ben is a film distribution expert, and has been on the show multiple times talking about film distribution, one of my favorite subjects. Now in this episode, we're going to talk about what is going on currently, from his point of view in the film distribution game with COVID. And what's going on, and he just opened up his own distribution company, and is doing some really cool things with that. So we wanted to dig into what it's like right now on the street during these turbulent times in film distribution. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ben Yennie. I like to welcome back to the show returning champion Ben Yennie. How are you doing, Ben?

Ben Yennie 3:12
Very well, Alex, thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:14
Absolutely. As I think this is your third time

Ben Yennie 3:19
Yeah, third time, right.

Alex Ferrari 3:20
But you have the distinct, distinct honor of being my very first interview ever on indie film hustle, not the first release, but I think you were the first interview I ever did. If I remember correctly.

Ben Yennie 3:34
I think I might have been the third but I was the first that wasn't your own personal friend.

Alex Ferrari 3:39
I think it's something like that. I remember you were you're one of the first two or three that got released. So you were you you humbled me by coming onto my little podcast all those years ago now we're over 400 episodes it's gotten insane

Ben Yennie 3:59

Alex Ferrari 4:01
It's been it's been kind of crazy but you've been you've been busy as well for everybody listening. Ben is an amazing wasn't amazing sales rep but has since jumped over to the to the I guess to the good side of the Force. It all depends on how you look at it and become an became a full blown distributor which we're going to get into as well. But what I wanted to bring you back on the show man to talk about it's insane times we're living in and how they're affecting our business. So how has it how has COVID affected film sales from your point of view, domestically and internationally?

Ben Yennie 4:37
It's a weird mix for COVID it's much more affordable to be starting a sales and distribution company because we don't have to worry about market sees, which also means that we don't claim as oops, but we don't have to worry about actually traveling to Berlin, France and France and even LA for me now. We just Jump on zoom calls all a lot. And beyond that, we've also been able to get a lot of development executives on the phone a lot more easily than we think we would have. Although, on the same note, we had a big pitch, one of the big, big Kids TV channels, the day that everything shut down in LA in March, and if that had, if that had gone differently, I think we would have I think they would have bought that film, which ended up not happening.

Alex Ferrari 5:34
But of course, because it went upside down on that at that moment.

Ben Yennie 5:39
Oh, indeed, yeah, so that was a that was less than ideal. But we're still in talks with a lot of people about that good, takes longer than I would have expected.

Alex Ferrari 5:50
So the thing is that that's the, that's one area that I've always had to had a real big sticking point is those fees, those market fees that you need to recoup as a distributor, and they're still charging them now, even though there are no market fees. Arguably, I mean, AFM cost what this year to go in virtually, it didn't cost much at all.

Ben Yennie 6:11
I think we went as we had both a booth and everyone on my team had buyer badges because they were completely free. The Booth was something like five or $600. And we got a bit of that our total cost was right around 900. And we included a bit of MailChimp subscription, and that too

Alex Ferrari 6:31
Right? So then, so let's say a grant, let's say a grand total.

Ben Yennie 6:34

Alex Ferrari 6:35
Which is generally a price of doing business as a distributor, you generally wouldn't pass that on to this, to do your filmmakers. But before, how much does it cost to go to AFM.

Ben Yennie 6:46
Uh, I've had booths before, the very cheap end of it is 30 $500, which is just for the booth that's not including any advertising with

Alex Ferrari 6:57
or travel or food, or if you bring somebody else and all that stuff. So it could it could go up to comfortably five to 10,000. If you get bigger booths, it could go up to 50 or 100 tops.

Ben Yennie 7:09
Now easily. Yeah, um, yeah, it's a, it is much more affordable to get started now. But I'm sure you know, on this front, because it's something that you talked about on both in your book and a lot of podcasts that the for free, when it's that cheap to get started, the competition becomes really intense really quickly, if you don't know what you're doing with. And that took a bit of a double edged sword.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
So right now. So that's another thing you're seeing, you're seeing a lot of distributing startups coming up really quickly. Now, as before, it's like any part of our business like before, it used to be 100,000 to $200,000 for a camera. And now you can make a film with you know, for under five grand comfortably with a, you know, beautiful 4k image on a black magic, let's say or even on a red, that's a much smaller red, you can go for under 10 grand. So it now allows a lot of people to get into the business. But now the competition becomes a lot more. So the same problem that filmmakers are having with distributors, distributors are having to put themselves

Ben Yennie 8:12
a little bit yeah, it's a I mean, it's not as much of a problem because so much of being successful in this business is based on relationships, and long standing relationships. And those aren't something that really ever had $1 value attached to them, except that you had to travel to these places. So it's the biggest thing I actually worry about for the long term health of the industry. health of the industry, as it stands right now is finding a good entry point for the bigger platforms. And if markets like AFM have a big sea change in them, I worry about where you could actually go to start to come up if you haven't done anything yet.

Alex Ferrari 8:55
Be the as a distributor,

Ben Yennie 8:58
as a distributor or a filmmaker, frankly, I started going to AFM as a filmmaker and then became a producer's Rep. And then now I'm a distributor and something of a sales agent too. But we just got a partner on that to take some of that off my shoulders because I was doing too much. Um, but yeah, I don't think that I the biggest thing about becoming a successful filmmaker is hitting the point where you're actually broken enough that you can get attention and get an agent if you want to go the studio route. As opposed to the more film enterpreneur route, which I know you advocate night do too. But I don't know what the path for that would be. Now that there isn't something like the AFM where you can actually meet people who can get your film on Showtime or if you're a distributor, you can find those. You can establish those relationships with those buyers. So you can be That junction point.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
So it must Yeah, I understand because I've been to AFM a bunch of times and I get that like you just run into people, you have dinners, you meet people at parties, you make those relationships, you start, you know, you start building rapport. And that takes time, takes years. Like I think originally when we first started talking years ago, you were telling me that like when you show up to AFM no one's really gonna do business real business with you for a few years until they really like, Oh, this guy's still showing up. He's not my by night and, you know, takes those years of time where now that that avenue, at least as as of this recording is not there. Do I mean? I mean, I had Jonathan wolf on the other day on the show as well to talk about the future of of an AFM and markets in general. I mean, I think personally, I think they will come back in one way, shape or form, but they were hurting. They were hurting prior to COVID. So I'm not sure how, you know how? Well you and I knew, I don't think we're gonna go back there. Do you agree?

Ben Yennie 11:06
Yeah, I completely agree. I don't think that it's going to ever be what it was. But I mean, all the old timers I know, in the business have been saying it's not what it was, since I started going. And I mean, like, the apparently during like the 80s and early 90s, it was basically printing money. Because if you have access to a VHS player, you could just hand over fist, man. I mean, in the DVD, everything became much less expensive. But people were still making so much money on physical media, that it was a great time to be in sales and distribution. And then when the bottom fell out after 2008 it's been a lot rougher since then. And I'm sure you know, this is something that I believe I've heard on your podcast once or twice. I do still actually listen to your podcast.

Alex Ferrari 12:01
And I appreciate that, sir. Thank you. Yeah, no, Agreed. Agreed. I mean, I always tell people, there is no place for physical media, no question. But it's not what it was. And it's niche. It's much, much more niche for for physical media. And I think overseas, there's still physical media is still somewhat of a thing, or is it not, I'm not sure how much physical media is overseas anymore.

Ben Yennie 12:28
Depends on the territory more than anything, um, like the territories that are more technologically repressed, they're still a little bit of it, except there's a really interesting story in Africa as a territory, in that they just kind of skip televisions altogether. So they're straight on mobile and VOD, they just skipped physical media for a lot of the populace, which is interesting unto itself. But it is, it doesn't help your physical media numbers. I mean, mutiny is doing okay, with physical media. Still, we've got three Walmart releases coming up in the next four months. And one of those also as Best Buy, as for exclusive for blu ray, because it's a horror movie. And we know how horror likes their physical media. Um, and, but the only reason that we're able to do that is that we have an output partnership with. Yeah, I can say the name with Mill Creek. Um, and if we didn't have that, we would not be doing those wide releases there. Because the returns are terrible. If you make one wrong move on that it can bankrupt you.

Alex Ferrari 13:40
Were there that was going to save. I've talked about this a lot in my course, and I think even in my book that the Walmart idea that the myth of a Walmart release, or Best Buy release, is that like, Oh, my God, they just bought, you know, I just sold 3000 units. But they get to return anything that doesn't sell right. And that could really hurt. A distribution

Ben Yennie 14:01
is not. It's not even that they buy them and then you might return them, it's that they can sign off. So you paid to replicate sometimes 20,000 units, and that's on you until they sell there. And that is brutal.

Alex Ferrari 14:23
So as a distributor Why, why do that? So like, let's say, so let's say Walmart, let's say my film on the corner vehicle and desire. So let's say I had a Walmart deal in Walmart, and I'm going through mutiny, your distribution company and they go look, Walmart wants 20,000 units, they really think it's going to sell because it's Sundance, and a lot of people could buy this blu ray at Walmart because it's a Sundance time and all this kind of stuff. And, and you and you actually you incur the cost because the filmmakers that generally incurring that cost is Or am I wrong on that?

Ben Yennie 14:57
On we charge it as an Again, we deal through Mill Creek. So we don't actually have to bear that cost. That's part of why we deal with Mill Creek on this. But they also take a huge slice of the pie for taking on that risk. And

Alex Ferrari 15:11
Right. Yeah, that makes some sense. So then they so they take the cost, let's say they buy 20,000, or they replicate 20,000 of the movie, if 15 DVDs are sold, and, and the rest of them are just like, sorry, we can't use them and they return them, then you and millcreek have to eat that cost, right?

Ben Yennie 15:36
Yes, and no. One of the other things about dealing with millcreek is extremely established in this they've got I think, over 18,000 titles that they've released, so that having that that will now find the book does help a lot. Which also means that they, the unsold discs for them do go to places like Dollar General or Big Lots or anything like that. So you don't, you still lose a little bit per unit, but instead of losing like a buck 25 you're losing 25 cents, which makes all the difference in the world when you're doing a number

Alex Ferrari 16:14
A nickle. A nickle is a lot of money at that point. Every save is good, right? Yeah, that's a big lots we'll buy 5000 units at a buck apiece and then they'll sell it for 399 or 299 in their stores.

Ben Yennie 16:26
Something like that. Yeah. So that's how that's part of how they're able to cut risk. And that's the only way that this model makes sense right now. And frankly, if it were just us we wouldn't do it we would we deliver to red box on our own. And we also

Alex Ferrari 16:46
That's a straight out buyout, though, right?

Ben Yennie 16:48
Like they bought that freed up buyout, and you only have to replicate discs, which gets

Alex Ferrari 16:52

Ben Yennie 16:52
In a way. Yeah, um,

Alex Ferrari 16:55
You need spindle.

Ben Yennie 16:57
Exactly. And the we also, when we're not dealing with Mill Creek, which is somewhat rare, we can also deliver to some of the smaller chain so Midwest tape and family video in places like that

Alex Ferrari 17:12
film a video just shut down, though, didn't they?

Ben Yennie 17:15
Did they? I am embarrassed on that

Alex Ferrari 17:17
Yeah, they just I saw an article that came out family videos. Like they just they're showing their stores, which is sad.

Ben Yennie 17:22
Yeah, I know. That's a while we were dealing with family video, and they I knew they had shut down in Canada. I didn't realize that they shut down in the us too. But that makes sense. It doesn't seem like a safe time. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 17:35
it was. They had a video store chain that was still working. Like that's amazing.

Ben Yennie 17:40
Yes. I agree. I and I'm yet now I again, this is actually as I'm hearing about and I'm a little sad.

Alex Ferrari 17:48
But sorry. I didn't mean to break the news on air, sir. I just I fly by I was like, oh, family video. No. Like it was the last hope. But there's still that last blockbuster. Don't forget there's that last blockbuster. You could still sell one or two units.

Ben Yennie 18:04
It's that in Washington or Alaska.

Alex Ferrari 18:07
No, Alaska shut down. It's the one in Washington. I think Alaska was shut down because that was the one that Louis Oliver or John oliver sent that codpiece from Russell Crowe's codpiece from Cinderella man as a way to drive people. And it didn't work. So there is one more blockbuster left in the United States that's still alive. And it's now become a tourist attraction. It's just you could actually Airbnb there. By the way. You can you can, you can sleep over and sleep in. I would absolutely sleep in a blockbuster. Overnight

Ben Yennie 18:47
You are not alone. I would do that, too.

Alex Ferrari 18:50
So they're figuring it out. They're figuring out what to do. Because it's obviously the rentals is not the biggest thing. So they're trying to build up other and I'm gonna have the director of the movie on soon to directed the documentary on called the last blockbuster, which is doing really well as well. But But yeah, so. So wanted everyone listening to understand the physical media Gambit, it's still there. But there's some. There's a little it's a little weird, to say the least.

Ben Yennie 19:18
Yeah. And then the big reason we do it and the big reason that we still seek out these deals is just that. Having that physical presence does have an impact on your VOD sales as well, just the fact that people are going to the store if they see a non on an end cap, even if they don't buy it there, which is generally what we ideally want them to do. They're more likely to click through and buy it if they happen to see it when they're browsing movies on iTunes or Amazon or wherever else. So that's why we keep pushing out even though it comes out at Better than a wash, but not significantly better than a wash. When we're talking about all the money that is a potential between all of the returns, mill creeks, cotton, the other things there. I am not, it's not as much money as you think it is, like I

Alex Ferrari 20:22
So you were saying you still work with Redbox? how robust is red boxes business model at this point? Are they still like growing? And I mean, I still see their kiosks everywhere. And I think they are the only guys who figured out how to do physical media properly, because there's no overhead like it's barely any overhead. So that's why they're able to do and it's there's no employees. There's, there's no there's nothing, it's just a machine. So how robust is it? And how are the sales going to them?

Ben Yennie 20:51
So we had a red box. It's not exactly a red box exclusive, but it's a red box early release that happened earlier this month. And this was a small film with hardly with no extremely notable cast. But it had the first week it was out it did the first day it was out. It was number four it Redbox nationwide, and number four or and number one in horror for the entire week. And then nationwide on the rental charts. The first week it was number 12. Which is Yeah. And that's just Redbox. So that is something that in that film is I am Lisa because that's already out. I can say that. But the but it will be going to one of these other things later. And thanks to how well it did on red box, we've actually been able to get some international traction with it too. So it is

Alex Ferrari 21:54
What is the typical deal? Like what is the typical buy on a red box deal? Like 5000 units? 3000 units? 1000 units?

Ben Yennie 22:03

Alex Ferrari 22:04
35,000 units?

Ben Yennie 22:06
Yes. Is the full body?

Alex Ferrari 22:09
Full body? Do they do partial biser?

Ben Yennie 22:10
Or they will do the least I've seen is a half by and that is yeah 75 to 20 somewhere in that range. They also do double buys. So that's

Alex Ferrari 22:24
All to have extra copies.

Ben Yennie 22:25
They have extra copies because they have about 40,000 kiosks in the country. So

Alex Ferrari 22:31
40,000 kiosks no

Ben Yennie 22:34

Alex Ferrari 22:34
No wonder so they have to fill those kiosks even so and if you're buying in if you're doing you're replicating so you're doing other application but there by the way if you're if you're replicating 20 to 35,000 DVDs, DVDs, or blu rays or doesn't matter

Ben Yennie 22:51
yeah DVD they don't do well they raise from us I don't know if they actually do offhand so

Alex Ferrari 22:57
so if it's this a 30,000 35,000 DVDs I'm assuming you get those for 75 cents 50 cents.

Ben Yennie 23:06
Now it's more like do when you're dealing in that volume it's more like anywhere between 17 and 25 cents a day. So yeah, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 23:15
and then and then and then buying them out I don't know if you can tell me Alex I can't tell you that number but what is it like is there a ratio give me like a just because I'm just curious maybe I'll ask you off air but I'm just curious

Ben Yennie 23:28
Um, I don't know if I'm allowed to say that number public

Alex Ferrari 23:31

Ben Yennie 23:31
So I should be I should not I yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:35
Given I don't don't say that number publicly but that but yet still see that there's a profitable there's some profit,

Ben Yennie 23:41
Oh it's very profitable.

Alex Ferrari 23:42
Yeah, it's a profitable as a profitable place. And it's a buy. So if you could get a Redbox deal as an independent filmmaker, you're in a good place.

Ben Yennie 23:51
Oh, yeah. It's a lot harder to that right now than it used to be they are also feeling a bit of a crunch to they used to buy about four times as many titles a month as they do now. So that is that can be difficult, man, but we seem to be doing decently well with it. So um, but we are. I would take Redbox deals are among the most profitable domestic distribution deals that exist right now. So

Alex Ferrari 24:25
I would imagine because God knows Amazon, isn't. And again. Yeah. And I want it I want I want to put something to rest here and I want I want someone like yourself to say it publicly on air with me. T VOD is dead for independent filmmakers unless you can drive traffic to the platform that you're doing the transaction to and then that and traffic of customers who are willing to purchase or rent your film. Is that a fair statement?

Ben Yennie 24:57
Yes, however, if You can drive enough people there to buy your movie to actually get picked up in the algorithm, you can get spillover sales from it. It's just but you have to do those upfront numbers for it to work out. All right, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Yeah, with with that with iTunes, and Amazon and all those, yeah, if you can get into the top 100. And then if you get into the top of 50, and then if you can get in the top 10 of a category, not even the top 10 of all ages, then the algorithm will pick you up and kind of give you a little bit more of a boost. But that's, that's not easy.

Ben Yennie 25:32
No, it's not. um. Not at all

Alex Ferrari 25:35
And most filmmakers don't have that sophistication in audience or targeting or marketing or the research. Like it's a rarity to find filmmakers that have an audience and in the kind of movie that hits and, and you know, it's It's rare for my experience just doing what I do all these years. I don't see it very often. Does it happen? Yes. But someone won the lottery the other day. So you know, it happens. But by the way, it wasn't me. I didn't win the billion dollars. So if anybody was just wondering, I'm sure I'm sure you didn't. You probably wouldn't be on this call, sir. If you wouldn't want.

Ben Yennie 26:16
I'd be buying my own private Cayman Island, and just retiring.

Alex Ferrari 26:19
But I would say I'm out bitches, it just dropped it. I can just run.

But yeah, because a lot of a lot of filmmakers still think that T VOD is is an option. And they they they spent all this money on aggregators getting their films up on iTunes and Amazon and Google Play and God forbid Fandango and PlayStation and Xbox, which, I mean, it's so rare to generate revenue there unless it's a specific kind of title. But you really need to drive our audience. Do you agree?

Ben Yennie 26:57
Yes, the two that I've seen the best with from more of a, honestly from more of a producer's Rep. place because we haven't really started our VOD launches besides Amazon Muni, yet, but I've seen a lot of back end reporting. From my time as a producer for up. I was surprised, second to Amazon. YouTube and Fandango were often towards the top for the films that were going out through these aggregators. iTunes was hit or miss

Alex Ferrari 27:30
on iTunes is not Yeah

Ben Yennie 27:30
Yeah. I mean, I heard from somebody I've worked with a couple times that apparently, even for distributors who get much cheaper aggregation rates than standard filmmakers do. A lot of times when you aggregate to iTunes, I think it's something like eight and 10. Don't even make their aggregation feedback, which is atrocious, really?

Alex Ferrari 28:01
8. Only 8 or 10. I would think it would be 9.5 out of 10. I mean, it's, it's, that's why I always tell people like okay, should I should I spend 2000 bucks to get my film up on on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play? I'm like, do you think you're gonna, your movie is gonna make $2,000 in transactional? In all of those platforms, in the next 30 to 90 days? If you say yes, go for it. If you say no, why in god's green earth, I would spend that money print DVDs and sell them out of the back of your truck.

Ben Yennie 28:36

Alex Ferrari 28:38
Like go go door to door, go to flea markets. I mean, you're gonna make more money, you're gonna make more money doing that

Ben Yennie 28:45
You might well, you're right. I mean, like I yeah, it's, it's ridiculous how hard it is to actually make enough to move the needle enough that you can make any significant money from any single platform, which is why Amazon is just kind of the default because it doesn't cost anything to get you out there.

Alex Ferrari 29:08
But But the thing is that with Amazon, it doesn't cost anything to get up there. And also, everyone listening I want you to understand, too, that the reason why you want to have your film up on an Amazon or iTunes is because people feel comfortable. All they have to do is click a button, their information, their credit card information is there. That's why I always go against Vimeo or gumbo or gumroad or platforms for films because you're like you're asking someone to put their credit card in there's too many layers of entry, blocking the entry to like give you a reason not to do it but with Amazon's a click iTunes, it's a click. Even Google if you're if you're it's a click YouTube is a click it all depends on where you feel comfortable. It makes sense to put it on those platforms. But if you can't drive traffic man, it's it's useless. But with Amazon specifically You know, I want you to tell people why they're paying everybody. It's only a penny. Now for the work like, you know, it's a penny per hour streamed. And I think for my understanding is like the 50% point, like, if you hit like a certain point in the algorithm or the engagement, if you're under 50%, it's a penny, if you go 50 to 60 is like two pennies, like to get like the magical 11 or 12 cents. That'd be like, essentially, Avengers.

Ben Yennie 30:39
Yeah, and you've got to be like, you've got to be driving so much actually engaged traffic to watch your movie that most filmmakers will never realize anything more than the cent per hour mark. Um, specifically, when I said Amazon, though, I was actually talking about Amazon to Amazon. Yeah, if you're doing transactional through Amazon, that almost always makes sense for a window for S VOD. You, there's more you could talk about but the but the biggest thing you can do to help yourself on Amazon, either for transactional or S VOD is a get all of your friends to watch and or buy the content as close to release time as possible. And actually wash it through if even if they've already bought it or seen it somewhere else, or lately in the bank. Just leave it somewhere while you do something else. let it play there. That will actually help you rise through those rankings at least a little bit. I mean, again, unless you have that kind of a vendor's money, it's gonna be really hard to get to the point that you're making anything really, really good in terms of money? And I don't think it's ever good. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 32:01
Would you recommend if someone had $1,000 for marketing? Do you recommend calling all of your friends everybody and go rent, buy the movie, watch it all the way through, send me proof that you purchased it and watch it all the way through, leave a review, and I will refund your money. So that way, there's absolute engagement, you're paying for the engagement. And that way, at least it kind of boosts it up a bit. I'm not even sure if 1000 will even the link, make a blink of it. But it might do something to get it into the algorithm.

Ben Yennie 32:34
If it did, if that would happen over this over your launch weekend that might move the needle a bit. But I'd be remiss if I didn't say that. Amazon might well know that it's you doing that,

Alex Ferrari 32:49
if that happened, if it's with different accounts, though, it's different people's accounts different all around the country?

Ben Yennie 32:55
I mean, I hope that that is Yes, that is true. But I don't know. So we've actually had several of our filmmakers who were trying to rate their own movie, and also get friends to rate their own movie that actually had their they were no longer able to do ratings for that title at all. And that is a thing that happens. And I believe what you're talking about here, Alex, might actually be against the TLS on Amazon, but who actually, like,

Alex Ferrari 33:26
I'm just trying, I'm just trying to hack. I'm just trying to hack the system, sir. So yeah, sure. If it's legal, not legal. I you know, according to Amazon, I'm just trying to help a filmmaker.

Ben Yennie 33:35
But I completely agree, I would not be

Alex Ferrari 33:38
I would never do anything like

Ben Yennie 33:40
that. Or do or things such as that.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
I never do anything like that, sir. That would be wrong. But there are people out there that might and would just float in a balloon. Anyway. So I wanted to ask you, there's this bit, there's been a big hoo ha ha about Warner Brothers and HBO Max's new release strategy. It is. It is split Hollywood down the middle. I'd love to hear what you think about what they're doing. And how do you think it's going to affect things moving forward. And for everyone listening, if you don't know what Warner Brothers has done, they're releasing all of their theatrical big movies. And in the theaters and on HBO Max, at the same time, and you don't need to pay any more on HBO max. It's included. So Wonder Woman was the first big test of that. Then every month. You know, I think Godzilla vs. Kong, the matrix, and I don't know about doing I think they're fighting Dune. There's so many of these movies are coming out like this. What do you think's going to happen?

Ben Yennie 34:49
I think theaters have been in trouble for a bit. And I think that, especially with COVID, we're going to see a massive change in that infrastructure. Structure coming very, very soon, several of the big chains might not come back at all, which is, which means that studios have to experiment and try new things here. From a consumer perspective. I think that removing the barrier for people who are worried about the Coronavirus to see your content, and legitimately worried about it. Um, I think it's the smart play from a humanitarian perspective. And I think that there is going to be goodwill that's generated from that. And I think the people who are really, really, really into your IP are still going to go out to the theater,

Alex Ferrari 35:53
I'm gonna go, I want to see a Marvel movie, I want to see I want to see bond in the theaters, like I don't want to see it at home only, I don't want to see Top Gun at home. I don't wanna see the new top, I don't want to I mean, I will. But I'm also not going to risk my health or my family's health to go see a movie. That's me personally, no, there's others that don't feel that way. And I also live in Los Angeles, which is the epicenter as of this recording, you know, maybe some other places in the country in middle of Wyoming somewhere, it's not that big of a deal, but where I'm living, it's a little bit more of a risk. But but it's, it's very interesting how the, the mindset is changing, because now people are going to almost expect it, it's gonna be it's gonna be like, you're changing everyone's mind or changing everyone's model of how they consume the content. Now, you gotta tell me like, in a year or two, the students are going to try to change it back. It's going to be it's gonna be it's gonna be tough. And you were saying the theaters were in trouble. It for the last 10 years, it's been, it's been going on a steady decline. If you pull Marvel out of magical experience, theaters would never survive. That look at the numbers. Just look at the numbers without Marvel movies, specifically Marvel movies, which is he they released, I don't know, 20 Films they are responsible for, I don't know what 35 40% of the box office over the last decade. It's insanity. If you pull out Disney, if you pull out Disney total, then they're responsible. 60 percents 65% of all box office. So it wasn't it wasn't going in a good direction, in the first place. And for generations, like you and me, we, you know, we grew up with theaters, we grew up going to the big screen. You know, my kids, they liked the movie theater, but they're just as happy watching it at home. And it's sad, but it's just the way people I mean, I don't want to watch Top Gun on my iPhone. That's wrong.

Ben Yennie 38:03
I agree. I think my big TV with my seven with my seven one surround sound is adequate for Top Gun, frankly, you need a screen

Alex Ferrari 38:15
I need I need like a personal like Quentin Tarantino screening room to enjoy like, you know, a bit like a real projector, a real screening room, to be able to to enjoy something like that at home. And I'm not rolling that deep just yet. So I can't afford it. Soon, but not just yet. But it's it's it's really interesting to see how our business is just changing. And whatever happens at the top, which is at the studio level, it is going to trickle down to you guys to the to the to the you know, B and C and smaller distributors. Because before theatrical was a tough sell for independent films, period, right? Before COVID.

Ben Yennie 38:57
Okay. I mean, we did, you did some of the articles we did for last year. And that's a I mean, we did them specifically for a press. That was really it. Because if you actually have any degree of press, any degree of a screening in a local market, you can generally get it reviewed, which helps it get discovered online, because they like back and it's all about SEO at that point. Um, we are still looking at doing a couple this year. But pretty much everything we're doing now is geared more towards virtual cinema because a lot of times it will actually help to suit that need. And there's not the health risk involved. There are a couple times we're looking at actually doing a physical one because of the title one we've just closed today. That I don't want to say the name of it yet, but we're actually doing a full day in date with it. Um, but we're not going to be releasing it for free anywhere on that day and date. It's going to be theaters virtual Cinema and some other platforms with the same day as theaters. And because

Alex Ferrari 40:05
Can you explain to everybody what virtual cinema is.

Ben Yennie 40:08
So virtual cinema can mean a couple of different things. But in general, it's a partnership with a theater chain that enables that is essentially just premium video on demand. But because it's partnered with theater chain, you can report it as box office to places like the numbers and Box Office Mojo. And that starts to make a difference for international sales and other things. And that's part of why we've been using this model. Um, the other thing from us is the virtual cinema model we use when we're partnering with local independent theaters as theaters as opposed to a big chain like longly, or Alamo, AMC or something like that, yeah. Where they have their own platforms. But when you're partnering with the local guys, we do it through Vimeo, Ott. And we just create a separate product that is film name at theater name.com Theater name. And we give the theater 50% of the take for sending it out. And we keep the rest. But we also capture the emails for that exact sort of consumer type. So for selling horror movies in to a theater in Kansas, all of a sudden, we have a list of poor consumers in Kansas, which helps

Alex Ferrari 41:29
huge so yeah. That's interesting. It's it's fascinating to see how, you know, the smart distributors are trying to do you got them, you've got to do something you got to you can't just sit around and wait for TV sales from Walmart like it's like it's it's it's constant change. And that's why I wanted to have you on because I wanted to see what you were doing and what you know, you got you definitely got your nose to the grindstone on what's going on, you got your hand on the pulse of what's going on, like daily, and the thing is changing daily, like it's almost weekly or monthly. There's something new happening, you know, something else is gonna happen, or there's a new model is a new thing. Like, you know, who would have told if I would have told you last year drive ins were gonna be a thing. He would have laughed in my face. But drive the drive ins have become I think one of the biggest revenue generators right now. Right?

Ben Yennie 42:25
Yeah, I will say that. I've always loved drive-ins by after the pandemic goes away. I don't think they're going to stick around. Which Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 42:35
but they wouldn't establish it to begin with. They're like, nostalgic, you know, squared. Because these are stylistic. And then that drive in theaters are even more nostalgic. I mean, it's like, like, I really want to go to a video store but I only want to rent VHS like okay, you've now you're going to multiple levels of nostalgia here sir. Only I only I only watched beta tapes like Betamax I think I read this Betamax. So

Ben Yennie 42:59
hey, LaserDisc man, don't forget about

Alex Ferrari 43:02
laser, Hey, I just saw my laser disc collection. And I'm still kind of sad about it. I just, it was sitting there, I had all my criterions and I had my laser disc player from high school that still worked. And I just like it, I'm never gonna watch this. Let me just and I sold it for a few 100 bucks to a collector. And I must have been easily like to $3,000 a day retail is you know, so if I got anything for it, I was so happy. Um, Now, another big question I get asked all the time, is how relevant are film festivals anymore? To the distribution model or marketing or things like that? My feeling has always been that they've been going down. It's not, I think I think film festivals are still riding high off the 90s the relevance of film festivals in the 90s, which was set the Sundance movement and that's when film festivals became kind of rock stars because before the 90s there's the film festivals in the 80s that mattered. I mean, and obviously in Berlin and some of the bigger older, you know, more established film festivals. But there wasn't like 5000 film festivals in the US back then. And filmmakers still have that mentality that film festivals are where I'm going to get found by a distributor you're a distributor. Do you look for Film Fest? do you look at me obviously you probably do look at film festivals. But is it if I if I won Best Picture at the Internet moosejaw International Film Festival which I don't feel that that's a real festival. If I want that festival I won Best Picture at the moosejaw International Film Festival. I put those laurels. Do you give a crap? Does it put anything to the bottom line?

Ben Yennie 44:42
It doesn't really put anything to the bottom line? No, unless you're doing the top, let's say 20 film vests in the world. It doesn't really matter that much to distributor. Um, I actually wrote a blog on this about my site specifically about why Your why you won't get distribution from your festival run. I think it's almost exactly that title, which is more there, but the gist of it is, while you're covering, there are too many festivals, there are too many films being made, and distributors don't have the time to track all of them. Um, now to largely reverse what I just said, mutiny actually has a invitation only a festival first look program. So we'll partner with a festival. And if the filmmaker opts in, we'll review their movie, and we'll take it, we'll make a what we think to be a fair offer for it. Um, and we do that because part of this game, being successful as a distributor is about finding the best content as early as you can. Because anything that's really in demand, there's going to be competition for there will be multiple offers for pretty much everything I chase, somebody else has an offer in on as well. And most of the time, I have to not so subtly say why these other people why we're better than these other people. So

Alex Ferrari 46:11
just send them you just send them over to the protect yourself from predatory film distributors, Facebook group and go do a search for their name on that group. And let me know what you find.

Ben Yennie 46:23
Yet, No, I haven't actually done that yet. But I probably will.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
You should that you should definitely answer. It's an easy. You don't have to say you don't have to be the bad guy. I'm like, No, that's just just go look, you know, there's a Oh, that bit or that other big guy who loves to buy independent films who will remain nameless. Oh, that guy. Oh, just go and do a search for them in that group and see how he how that worked out for for a lot of the people.

Ben Yennie 46:48
That that's that's a good call.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
I'm here to help. I'm here to help. And I'm here.

Ben Yennie 46:54
But yeah, I mean, so on that same level, we try to be ethical about that. Because most of the time when you get a distribution offer from a festival you should run. They're really bad. They do happen. Are you familiar with this?

Alex Ferrari 47:06
I've heard of it, vaguely heard of it. But it's just such an obscure weird thing, like the only festival that I know of that has a real release situation is Sundance. Like it'll pick up a film and they will release it through their through their banner and the Sundance TV and I have I know filmmakers who've gone down that road and but that's kind of like a lottery tickets, like a 20 for picking up your film, like 12 movies a year or 13 movies a year. Like, it's very selective.

Ben Yennie 47:35
Yeah. So the ones that I've seen and I ran into this a fair amount is rough. It's almost like the white labeling disturber I think some of them actually, at the time, were just white labeling disturber which, and then taking, you still make those, you still pay those fees. And they also take something so an absurd amount of the tape on it. So it's,

Alex Ferrari 48:00
it's that's a new one I it doesn't surprise me, but I hadn't heard that specific situation. So for everyone listening, who is not familiar with what the words that are coming out of Ben's mouth, it's basically this, a film festival will say, Hey, we're Film Festival x district, and we're gonna we'll distribute your movie under our banner, film distribution x company. And all they'll do is call up distributor or a film aggregator. And if you don't know who distributor is, just do a search for distributor on Google and you'll find a lot about them and probably see my face there. Then, then they'll pay for then they'll charge you what they're going to get paid charged to put their films up on iTunes, Amazon, whatever. And for the pleasure of that, that will also take 35% or 25% or something like that. Yeah, that's so abusive isn't even funny.

Ben Yennie 48:56
No, that is very much what happens and that that had I've seen those sorts of things. I can't confirm that it was a full white label of that, but given what they were offering, and given how long I've been in this game, it looked at a hell of a lot. Like that's what they were doing. And my lips were on your podcast.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
Generally, I don't like it but if you want to throw a couple f bombs in I'll allow it.

Ben Yennie 49:23
Yeah, so that is a I will try to refrain from George Carlin's most famous bit

Alex Ferrari 49:33
Yes. But um

Ben Yennie 49:37
so yeah, that is so the reason we do that and the the film festivals we target are the sort that um, attract the content that our biggest domestic buyers are looking for. Like we generally know what Showtime is looking for because we're really close with them. We know what stars is looking for, for the same reason and Satan for Re box, same for all of them. He's so in order to help us better find this content so that we can sift through and get the ones that we know we can really do well with and make sure the filmmaker does well out of as well. It just allows us to find those people more quickly by having those relationships with the festivals.

Alex Ferrari 50:22
So like, so, like some genre festivals, like some horror festivals or things like taxes, that's, that's an easier sell for you with your desk, your distribution, model connections and things like that. You can sell that fairly easily. But if I, but if I have a period drama, with no stars in it, it's going to be a little bit difficult to sell.

Ben Yennie 50:44
Yeah, yeah, that's that's a good way of putting it to say which period? Like if you were able to make, let's say, a Roman epic for 10 grand, and it doesn't look like total crap. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I could sell that. Oh, no,

Alex Ferrari 51:00
you could sell that. Yeah, I'm saying Okay, let's, uh, 70s. The 70s 70s inside an apartment. melodrama, no stars. Decent production, decent production, solid production. Acting solid. Let's just say in the right let's say writing, acting and production. directions. All solid? Not like Scorsese. 1976. But, but some, but solid. You're not going to sell that.

Ben Yennie 51:31
No, it's gonna be really difficult. Yeah, it's a Yeah, I have had to have more conversations about why traumas are hard to sell or care to on high places. Like

Alex Ferrari 51:45
I'm doing my best bro. I'm doing my best. I'm doing my best to preach the word man. I've been I've been yelling at filmmakers. I'm like, don't do drama with a movie star is hard to sell. It's hard. It's hard. Unless, unless it's niche. If you have a niche, yes. If you have a niche, that's a different conversation. But you're talking like a generic, you know, be family drama. No,

Ben Yennie 52:15
no. Defined family.

Alex Ferrari 52:19
Exactly. Because it could be a niche. It could be, you know, it could be dealing with autism. That's a niche, dealing with you know, but it's just and we don't want to get into the weeds on this. But generally speaking, if it's just a general drama about a family, you know, you know, just doing family stuff in the 70s. It's not, you're not going to sell, it's gonna be real. It's gonna be tough. And I've seen those movies, I've seen $250,000 dramas with no stars in it, and they come to me and they go, what do you think we could do with this? I'm like, I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, man, that's gonna be a rough sell. Yeah, and Oh, we got this deal from this big distributor. I'm like, you're probably not going to see a time.

Ben Yennie 53:01
Yes, it's,

Alex Ferrari 53:02
it's, it's true. It's sad. It's sad, but it's true. What do you What are you getting for Avon right now like, are you getting is Avon turning into a revenue, a real revenue stream for independent film in films? Because I know Avon is making a lot of money for studios established movies. But for in your world from independent films, how is it doing?

Ben Yennie 53:25
depends a bit on the on which genre in which niche you're talking about. Urban films are doing extremely well be they independent or big studio pictures on a VOD, you just kind of have. But in general, I'd say that Avon is probably going to be the biggest sector of growth in the industry in the next at least a year. Um, the there was just something that I think I actually saw it in one of your groups. That was to be dropping their numbers. And they've seen just gargantuan growth in this and I don't think that growth is really going to go away. Sure. It was aided by the pandemic and it might go down a little bit after this, but I don't think it's going to really I don't think it's going to completely retracting I think people are going to be I think A VOD for everyone under 35 is going to be the nail in the coffin for traditional cable is really where it's,

Alex Ferrari 54:28
yeah, I agree with you 100%. But the funny thing is I find about Avon is like, the advertisers are advertising to people who can't even afford a subscription A lot of times, so is that gonna, is that model Make sense? Or is it just more brand awareness? Because if you do it, I'm not saying that all people who watch A VOD can afford that. I'm not saying that. But generally speaking people who do consume A VOD are people who are not purchasing or don't have Disney plus HBO, Netflix and Hulu and some other platforms or has cable In general, so if I'm advertising a product on Avon that is, you know, higher priced. Does that make sense? So that's that's a much deeper question that I don't think you and I have above our pay grade.

Ben Yennie 55:19
More than likely, but I would put one, at least thought process on that. Um, some of the biggest ads vendors are companies like Coca Cola, you can afford a coke. It's a and other sorts of brands that are at a similar price point to that. So I think that Avon, I think in if TV ma spend tons of money on TV right now, if they're looking to access the key demographic, and they're all moving to Avon, I think they're going to start spending money on Avon.

Alex Ferrari 55:55
Yeah, I know, the Super Bowl this year is there, there's a lot of people who are not going to advertise, like Budweiser for the first time in 38 years is not going to advertise on the Superbowl. That's

Ben Yennie 56:07
Yeah, that's definitely a sign of the times. That says it's beer.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
Yeah, I doubt that beer is taken a hit

Ben Yennie 56:15
beer, though.

Alex Ferrari 56:20
The, the, the views of our guests and not that necessarily represent the views of the host or the show.

Yeah, no, but you know what I mean, it's it's alcohol that we can agree upon it is alcohol. But it's but yeah, so I doubt that beer is taking a big hit during this time. I'm assuming this. I haven't looked the numbers, but I'm assuming beer and alcohol sales have probably gone up a bit because of what's going on in the world, which is not a good thing. But why wouldn't they be advertising there? Could you get for that five and a half million dollars that you're gonna have for that 1/32 spot? If you do five and a half million into an EVA sequence? Like,

Ben Yennie 57:08
how much did so many impressions? I can't imagine.

Alex Ferrari 57:14
I mean, so think about that. Like, if if I'm gonna spend five and a half million for 30 seconds. Mind, you're gonna have 100 million eyeballs on it. Or you can have eyeball after eyeball after eyeball for probably months for that price. On Wednesday, and on a Pluto and those kind of places. It's it's pretty insane.

Ben Yennie 57:34
Yeah, I mean, I'd like if you use YouTube as an example. Um, it was actually pretty decent on this. I think it's something like 10 cents per full video view on YouTube. 10 cent times? Like, what? That's 50 million, easily. Right there. That's, yeah. That's actual views. That's not counting the skip after six seconds. So I, imagine they are

Alex Ferrari 58:02
I think the whole the whole world is changing so fast and so rapidly, that it's just difficult to keep up. And I think independent filmmakers are just, I just want everyone listening to understand we are not in the 90s anymore. We're not in the early 2000s we're not even a year ago. We are in a completely different world and it's changing so rapidly that by the time I know that some people started their movie before COVID with one business model and after it they're just like, oh my god, it that's how fast things are changing. And I do think and I truly believe this is going to happen but I would love to hear your thoughts. Amazon, Netflix, apple, Facebook, someone is going to buy not only some smaller studios because MGM is up for sale now they're that library and I saw that coming and someone's Apple doesn't buy MGM I don't even why wouldn't you why I don't understand why you wouldn't buy MGM at this point their libraries massive. But they're they're gonna buy out Sony's probably gonna go next. That not that TV, but the theatrical side because it's for years. Lionsgate is prime as well. That's another that's another potential acquisition. So those acquisitions, but then also would Netflix, or a company like Netflix, purchase regal or AMC and do some sort of mixture. I always said and I'm not sure might be Netflix but I said if someone like Disney bought AMC that makes a lot of sense because now there's a Disney Store and every single theater and and they could have Disney themed restaurants instantly becomes a completely different business model because now they're not it's not even about sharing money with the revenue but the movies, it's their movies. It's with that does that make sense?

Ben Yennie 1:00:11
Yeah, no, I think that from Disney's perspective, I can see that entirely. And that's assuming that we just that we have just stopped caring about antitrust laws, which we have. So that's,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
yeah, that's, yeah, that the whole

Ben Yennie 1:00:25
thing. But the, but I think it makes a lot of sense for Disney with someplace like AMC. I'm not 100% convinced that regal is as hurting as AMC is the AMCs just

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
bigger, they just a much bigger.

Ben Yennie 1:00:41
Yeah, and they also kind of overexpanded for a bit there. So that was the thing and regal was not a victim to that. So they have a bit they can weather more of a shock than AMC good. Um, and so I think Disney and AMC would make a lot of sense. I think that you're right on Apple and MGM app. I haven't looked at the subscription numbers for Apple TV plus lately. But I can't imagine they're doing that well, on a lot of

Alex Ferrari 1:01:11
Yeah, because they're not taking it seriously yet. I don't care what they say they're not taking it seriously. This is kind of like, Apple. for them. It's, it's it's a line item. It's nothing. Like they're like, Oh, we spent 5 billion on content. That's nothing for Apple that's like literally, it's like craft services on an independent film. Like it doesn't mean anything to them. But if they're serious, and they want to, I think the second that, that Apple really becomes. They say, you know what, we want to buy Netflix. We then when they're sick, I don't know when they're going to be serious. But I think someone someone's going to do that.

Ben Yennie 1:01:50
Yeah. And I think that I was pretty convinced that they were gonna buy Netflix a few years ago. But I actually I think the last time I was on this podcast, I was also pretty adamant

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
that Yeah,

Ben Yennie 1:02:02
yeah, the, but I'm less convinced of it. Now. They've actually done pretty well out of the pandemic. And they're in less of a dire financial straits than they were. But I am. But I do think that in order for Apple TV plus, to actually gain any major traction in the marketplace, you're right, they need to start buying up libraries, they need to look at, if they take over MGM library, they can afford to input it a lot of it is exclusive on Apple TV plus, overnight. Yeah, the entire James Bond collection overnight, that's that you can run a campaign ad campaign on that easily.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:44
And just on that, and they have multiple, Rocky, like, there's just so much stuff that they have, that they own. And then Lionsgate is another, another catalog, massive. And, you know, they dropped down 567 billion on it. It's not it, you know, I were talking about it, like you and I rolled like that, but we don't but, but for companies that size. It's it's not that big of a that's not that big of a purchase. So it's just all about a bigger conversation. But, um, so let's talk about why you decided to jump from a producer's rep to a distributor Like what? cuz I've only known you as a producer's rep all these years and then all of a sudden, you told me that you have a distribution company. So what what made you made the jump?

Ben Yennie 1:03:38
A lot of sales agents and distributors shifty as hell. And

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
stop it stop.

Ben Yennie 1:03:44
I know, it's out here, right? Um, but the in even as a producer's rep, I was much better, like, part of the issue is that, um, there's a massive discrepancy in information for filmmakers versus a sales agent, having a producer for up, doesn't fully alleviate that, but helps a lot in alleviating that. And especially if the producers are rapidly working closely with your lawyer. But the but even then, pay a contract is only as good as the people who wrote it. So if you're dealing with a bad disreputable sales agent or distributor, even if you get the best contract in the world, it's not gonna matter that much.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
They don't pay you

Ben Yennie 1:04:32
so yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:34
yeah, I had that I had that one. One filmmaker, unfortunately, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, who had an contract that said that we're going to pay you $100,000 mg, and he spent all his money, get into deliverables ready sold this car because I got 100 G's coming then never got paid. Still, to this day

Ben Yennie 1:04:56
and that one's actually a pretty easy one to enforce. Because it's a Actual mg as far as these go. It's not I mean, I'm speaking copper like, it's obviously he's having trouble. And I don't remember actually heard that whole podcast. But it is. But it's much easier to chase down an mg or a license than it is to chase down royalty payments, is the big part that I'm going for there. And most independent films just don't get an mg or a license for it. And if you're in the producers rep position, I'm constantly having to pound sales agents and distributors for even just reports, not even money necessarily just reports. It I realized with how much of my time I was spending on I realized that I'd really like to get more into direct distribution. And then the opportunity presented itself where some of my favorite people to work with found themselves without companies, so we made one ourselves.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:04
So and that that's work. Yeah, so how, how do you guys do releases, how do you release during this insane time your films,

Ben Yennie 1:06:15
we take it a little bit on a case by case basis. But we always try to emphasize our we always tried to bring the things we do best every release we have, and the things we do best, our deep relationships to big pay TV providers, and big physical media retailers. As well as publicity, we're really good at publicity. We've only been around since June, which as of this recording is about seven months ago. And we've already been covered in Rolling Stone, The New York Times LA Times variety. Hollywood Reporter THE rap, I really could miss magazine, I could go on for a long time on this. And part of what we bring to the table as a full service PR firm with that actually gives you attention. And we don't touch pitch fees. We charge a percentage of press gotten. And it's capped at a frankly ridiculously low number. And then we are also really, really good at bridge booking. And because we're really good at bridge booking, and bridge booking is essentially short, like we know most of the independent theaters in the country. And we call them up a couple of weeks before the actual booking is to start. We secure the big markets, New York and LA further out. But after that we start trying to get stuff closer, because they find these theaters sometimes find themselves with holes in their schedule. So we just filled that hole. And it ends up meaning that we can do a 15 screen theatrical run this on, essentially, on I think, without paying a single rental fee. I'll say that I don't want to say exactly what the PNA spend is because that's separate. But you don't have to pay a single rental fee to the theater.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:26
And that's so that's, that's built on relationships.

Ben Yennie 1:08:28
Yeah. So that's part of what we do. We don't do a theatrical for everyone. We did, like I said we did for last year. We're kind of putting a little bit of a hiatus on it, because we don't necessarily feel right pushing theatrical when we ourselves wouldn't go to a theater. And there's just kind of a moral issue there.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:49
Yeah, like you're a butcher, but you're vegan. Like it's it's never off. Yes, exactly.

Ben Yennie 1:08:59
So that's why we do that. But we but even with that we still do virtual cinema we do. We work with millcreek to set a release date. Some days, we will do software, some films, we'll do an early Amazon release before we do a wider physical and VOD release. And then we do our absolute damnedest to get picked up by one of the big boys in pay TV. We have Yeah, we've already got a film. on Showtime we have some others coming to some of the other people but since they're not on there, and they haven't made an announcement yet, I'm not gonna say who they are. Um, but for the right films like this one I've alluded to a couple times to just close today. Some of the big theater chains still talk to us about getting a much wider release. And that is a and that's basically what we do for each film and after and depending on what we negotiate for. pay TV We'll, after the when the window allows us after the S VOD and pay TV window, we'll do a bomb. We've got a lot of contacts in that space, too. But the big thing about to be is you need to upload 100 films at a time right now. And that's why you kind of need to go through somebody if you're going to do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:21
So gotcha. You can't aggregate yourself onto to me. Yeah, unless you have 100 Films you've directed, and then that's a conversation.

Ben Yennie 1:10:30
That's not as easy as you might think it is it I hope you don't. Easy.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:33
Now it's not it's not at all from what I understand. Now, the most important question, I always like to ask any any distributor that I bring onto the show, how do you pay filmmakers?

Ben Yennie 1:10:46
So we are different in this and this is something that kind of I wrote, most of them uni contract myself, and then our lawyer punched it up. And then I went back and rewrote some of the lawyer bits. And we did that like three times. But the basically, we are, we tend not to pay minimum guarantees, just due to risk aversion, the fact that we're still a small young company, Mo, but we structure our contract in such a way that filmmakers are paid from the first deal. So that is no, we include a corridor that's equal to our commission in the first phase of the waterfall until we recoup. So that would be let's just say 25%. On commission right now, that's not always the case. But that would mean we take 25% after the uncapped and other recoupable expenses, and like the uncap, recoupable expenses, which would be things like DVD replication would be a cap,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:54
sure, because that's, but that's a sale. So you're only spending that money if money's coming in. So that makes sense.

Ben Yennie 1:12:00
Yes, and there's something like that, too. And also, we have a blanket, you know, policy that we grant access to the filmmaker, for that we charge a single flat fee, the first time we deliver something that requires and that is

Alex Ferrari 1:12:16
probably cheaper than me going out getting it myself.

Ben Yennie 1:12:18
Yes, granted, this thing is still it's significantly cheaper. I've looked into it. But the The other thing I would say there is, in general, you might still want to get your own because ours is tailored to protect us and the buyer more than you, but generally, it but yeah, so I would just say that for legal reasons. But the but it means that you are not required to do that, under some deals, which you would like pay TV, you always need that. So that's why we do it that the and then the other level would be so right, then it would be 25% to us, 25% to you, the filmmaker, and then the remaining 50% to our kept recoupable expenses, which as of right now are 10 to 1510 to 15,000 depending on whether or not we do a theatrical with it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:17
And you're reporting all of those expenses and showing where you're spending money.

Ben Yennie 1:13:22
Yes, we are. And line item reporting even so shocking. Are you kidding me?

Alex Ferrari 1:13:27
Stop it. I just I literally just got off, I literally just got off the phone with a a filmmaker. I was consulting about about this. And they were like, Hey, I got this deal. They want to they want 40,000 expenses kept. And I'm like, but we asked them because we watched your course Alex. And we we asked them for Are you gonna report? And they're like, no, we're not gonna tell you what we're spending our money on. So I'm like, think like, straight up. They're just like, yeah, we're not going to give you any reporting.

Ben Yennie 1:14:00
Like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:01
Come on. And it's and by the way, it's a larger, it's a larger it's one of the larger ones.

Ben Yennie 1:14:07
That's just shocking.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
Shocking, I'd say it's, it's, it's the larger one that we all know. And it's like Voldemort, we don't say the name.

Ben Yennie 1:14:17
Yeah, that makes sense. Um,


Alex Ferrari 1:14:23
so I'm glad you do it. I'm glad you actually are showing reporting and things like that. So so you seem to be a little bit more transparent than most distributors?

Ben Yennie 1:14:30
Yeah, we actually we're kind of a founded on transparency. It's not I don't think it's any Republic, but it's on a lot of internal documents as a brand and core value.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:41
So we should probably put it publicly that probably is a good thing to do.

Ben Yennie 1:14:44
Probably should I just have like, too many responsibilities. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:51
Oh, man, Listen, man. It's been a pleasure. Talking to you. Where can people find out more about you and your company? What you do?

Ben Yennie 1:15:01
So the best places to find out about us are mutinypictures.com. And in general. Most of my content right now is through medium, which is just [email protected]

Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
Okay, fantastic, man. It's a pleasure to talk to you as always, sir. And next time we talk, the game will have changed again.

Ben Yennie 1:15:30
I'm sure we're talking next week.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:32
Yeah, exactly. But be well, stay safe, man. Thanks for everything you do. I want to thank Ben for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs, as I knew he would. Thanks again, Ben. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com Ford slash 449. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmaking podcast COMM And leave a good review for the show. I really need your help to get better and better rankings for that darn algorithm to pick up this amazing content and help as many filmmakers as possible. And guys, the next episode will be Episode 450. And I promise you that this episode is going to be one of the most epic episodes I have ever released. I've been teasing you guys about who is going to be this mystery guest. But it is going to be a whopper. I promise you. The only hint I will give you is he was one of those 1990s lottery ticket-winning filmmakers who took off and blew up after screening at Sundance. That's all I'm gonna say. I'm not gonna say anything else. You'll just have to wait till Thursday. Thank you guys again for listening so much. I'd love teasing you guys. This is great. I'm so excited about this episode. I can't even just contain myself. I want to tell you so badly. But don't worry. There's the morning you guys will know. Thanks again for listening guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

IFH 274: Distribution Myths, SVOD and AFM with Linda Nelson

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Today on the show we have returning champion Linda Nelson from Indie Rights. I wanted to bring Linda back to discuss how much the distribution game has changed in the three years since she was last on the show. We also discuss the American Film Market and how to work it properly.

Nelson Madison Films/Indie Rights was founded by Michael Madison and Linda Nelson because they believed that the future was bright for independent artists and that there was a better way to produce and distribute movies.  They have been in business since 2000, when they produced their first film, NSYNC BIGGER THAN LIVE a Giant Screen Movie that played to sold-out crowds worldwide.

Known for innovation.  SHIFTED, their first digital feature,  was the first movie on Amazon’s UnBox (the predecessor of Amazon Video)  and was used by Amazon to promote their platform for over five years.  DELIVERED was the first independent feature to edit and master a 4K movie using Adobe CS5.   Articles in Variety, HDVideoPro and an Adobe Success Story followed. Partnerships were forged early on with the leading digital platforms including Amazon, Google, Cinedigm, MGo and Adrise, and these partnerships ensure that Indie Rights can offer the very best audience opportunities for their own films, as well as the more than 300 other filmmakers they work with.

Linda Nelson began her career as an international investment banker, IT executive an entertainment real estate developer.  After meeting Michael Madison, she pivoted into the movie business finally realizing her artistic potential.   As an Executive Producer on NSYNC, she quickly realized that she was interested in being more “hands-on” and was the DP for her next film, SHIFTED.  As a Producer on DELIVERED, she was finally able to gain experience in all aspects of the financing, development, production and distribution phases of moviemaking.

I can’t recommend Indie Rights highly enough. If you have a feature film that needs distribution do yourself a favor and check them out.

Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Linda Nelson.

Alex Ferrari 2:40
Today's guest is returning champion Linda Nelson from indie writes. Now Linda was on episode 17. And she is hasn't been here for a while but things have changed dramatically since last time. We spoke to her about distribution, and the world of VOD s VOD t VOD, a VOD, and you know physical media and all sorts of stuff. But we really get into it. This is a master class no joking about distribution. And if you really want to know the differences between traditional distributor verse is a self distribution model. Linda really breaks it down for you very, very well. I love indie writes, I've sent a ton of the tribe to her for distribution. Not every movie is perfect for self distribution. Some movies need or demand, a traditional distribution distribution partner or a hybrid of the two. And indie REITs is by far the top of my list, and I'll put her links all her links in the show notes. But without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Linda Nelson from indie REITs. I'd like to welcome returning champion, Linda Nelson. How are you, Linda?

Linda Nelson 4:00
Good morning. I'm so thrilled to be back talking to indie film hustle.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Yes, you were on episode number 15. If I remember correctly, so it's been a few. It's been a minute since you've been with us.

Linda Nelson 4:14
Yes. And and in distribution, that like a century

Alex Ferrari 4:18
In today's world, not in like the 70s and 80s it was pretty standard and didn't move very much. But in today's world, things are moving.

Linda Nelson 4:26
So I think for a good 30 years, you know, 20 to 30 years it was just all about DVD sales. And that was it and and now it's very much based in physical media and that has totally changed.

Alex Ferrari 4:38
So we'll get we'll definitely get into all of that good stuff. But so for those who don't remember, how did you get into the business and how did indie writes the company you work with outcome to be?

Linda Nelson 4:48
Well, my partner current partner Michael Madison, I made a had the opportunity to make a big budget film. It was a 5 million Dollar film was our first film. And we expected to get very wealthy off of that. And instead it wound up in a lawsuit. So he fell over the DVD sales. So

Alex Ferrari 5:12
In the biz, in Hollywood, I can't see that happening, people

Linda Nelson 5:19
And so we had to close our production office and start over again. And, and we did. So we decided that, you know, this time around, we're going to, you know, make our own films, and we made a very low budget feature. And we got into some film festivals and started to get a couple of offers, and we thought the offers were horrible. And we didn't, you know, see how you could, you know, be make a living in industry, if those were the only kind of deals that were out there. So, this was about 2007. And we decided that well, gee, how hard could it be to start a distribution company? I mean, little, little did we know, I mean, it was purely, you know, out of, you know, stupidity that we even, you know, if we knew more, we probably wouldn't even have tried it. But we, we said, Oh, you know, can't be that hard. So it is, it's so exactly true. And so we would often, and started a little company called indie rights. We started it, just with some other filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us. We were at like dances with film. When we got five or six films gathered up, we figured Oh, well, you know, we've got enough to start a little company, and we've got a little catalog. And that's how we started. And now here we are, 10 years later. And we have 650 films in our catalog. That's nice, not bad. It's just grown exponentially, we really kind of doubled every year, we doubled. And when we we love that we don't have to go out and look for films. And that's the best part about what we do. Every all of our business is by word of mouth, and people that have been with us for a long time tell their friends and filmmakers, and that are filmmakers and they tell their friends and and then those filmmakers all bring their new films to us. So we have lots of films now that filmmakers where we have four or five, six films from the same filmmakers. And that's amazing. It's great. It's a rarity take care of your reputation. That's what happens.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Yes, because distributors technically don't have a fairly good reputation.

Linda Nelson 7:30
No, they don't.

Alex Ferrari 7:32
There's, you know, I just did that image of that, you know, guy who's like 80 years old, sitting behind a desk with a cigar. Making some exploitation posters like kid All I need is a poster in a in a trailer, and I could sell it.

Linda Nelson 7:48
And I have to tell you, more than half the companies are still that. Yeah, I know. It's not a cliche. I mean, anyone who goes to AFM and walked around there, that's what they're gonna see primarily.

Alex Ferrari 8:00
Yeah, it is. It's

Linda Nelson 8:02
Starting to change. But there's still a lot of that.

Alex Ferrari 8:05
Yeah. Because in would you say it is because overseas is like, a little slower to catch up with everything else. Because there's, you still need those kinds of guys sometimes to get to those oversea markets, where you just can't get to them. Otherwise, is that true or not? Um, you could go with someone like you, obviously, but yes,

Linda Nelson 8:22
Right. on your own, it's very difficult, I think, I think still, for foreign sales, buyers would prefer to deal with a sales agent or us distributor, because they know that they can build a relationship and get more than one film. So it takes the same amount of energy to get a film from an individual as it does to get from a company yet, if you do it with a company, then you're building relationship where you can have future flow. Right? And so buyers tend not to deal with individual filmmakers area for sale. If you're an individual filmmaker, you really have to search. Yes, it said yet, it takes a huge amount of effort. So if you can find the right distributor, you're better off to use a distributor or a sales agent. And and there's a big distinction between the two. And that's something we can talk about later.

Alex Ferrari 9:18
So what what are your feelings on the world of distribution today, versus what we were talking about even just three years ago?

Linda Nelson 9:27
Well, you know, and the interesting thing is I I'm sure I said the same thing, then, because I keep saying the same thing. Every year. I don't believe there's ever been a better time for indie, indie filmmakers to make a movie. I really don't. I think there's, there's more and more opportunity as time goes by. You know, I think that there are skills that you have to acquire if you want to be able to take advantage of that and I'm sure we'll talk about that too.

Alex Ferrari 10:00
Yes, and, and I think it from your perspective, I think a lot of people, from your perspective, you see all the possibilities, because you're in, you're on the ground level, you are in the trenches of distribution every day, where I speak to filmmakers, almost on a daily basis and distribution is still such a clouded and in mystery. And who is going to screw me? And where can I actually make money when will actually get a check? That it's scary, the distribution is so scary for somebody who doesn't. And I've been in the game for a long time. And there's still aspects of distribution that I don't know, you have much more information about it than I do, because you do it on a daily basis. But I'm an educated person. And I'm still like, I don't know where what's going on over there.

Linda Nelson 10:46
Right? Well, and I think part of the reason for that is that this business has never been very transparent. It's always been quite secretive and old boys club, you know, type of environment where nobody shares any information. And that also is changing. You know, and that's a good thing. I mean, it's one of the tenants that we founded our company on. One was that we were, you know, going to pay filmmakers from dollar one. So we give our filmmakers 80%. And, and we don't charge any expenses. And we give very, very detailed quarterly reporting, and that that reporting is shared amongst our group. So that that it is the filmmakers that are doing great, get inspired, you know, our wind up inspiring ones that aren't doing so great, because then they want to know, how do you do that? And, you know, and then we can talk about that.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
So you actually share numbers with the other filmmakers in your,

Linda Nelson 11:51
Within our, our private group? Oh, that's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 11:54
I didn't know you did that. That's, well, no,

Linda Nelson 11:56
We do it. And, and, and it's very much appreciated, because when it comes time for you to do a new project, you have real numbers. Now, we don't let people share those numbers, with titles outside the group. But they can make General, you know, assumptions and projections based on genre, right, so you could look at all of the horror films, for example, you know, in our catalog, and, and, and draw some conclusions from that about what the realm of possibility is. And so it winds up, you know, being inspirational to those who aren't doing as well. And, and it makes the people that are doing well feel really, really good. So we really feel that's an important part. And it's been missing from our, you know, from our industry. And that's kind of why like on our website, we share our contracts and deliverables list, it's there for the world to see. We don't need to hide the terms of our contract. So does that fair?

Alex Ferrari 12:58
Right? No, exactly. And that's, that's amazing. You're extremely transparent. And I think that when filmmakers sign on with a distributor, what they're really signing on with for is one access and two relationships. Because you've been able to build up. So you know, just from your experience of doing this along and you know, the buyers that if you have a certain kind of horror movie, a horror movie that has doesn't even have to have stars in it, per se, but if you know the quality of the movie, then you go, Oh, I can estimate that that movie is gonna make us X amount of dollars, because we have a track record of what we've sold movies like that in the past for and current market shares and everything, and you just have relationships, where you could just pick up the phone and call up, you know, a market and go, hey, I've got this movie. What do you think you could give us for it? Is that a fair fairly accurate?

Linda Nelson 13:50
Well, you know, I because the the businesses and stuff such a state of flux right now, that is kind of changing, because it used to be that, you know, a buyer would want an all rights deal for a territory. So some some buyer would approach you for Germany and they want everything Seattle, broadcast VOD DVD. Well, now we've got lots of buyers that are looking to buy VOD only, or you know that. So it's it's become more complicated from that, that, that standpoint to try and project. And also, in our experience, we've found the projections aren't terribly relevant for on an individual film, but it certainly gives you the ability to give a range, right? So you could say, Oh, well, we have some that are making $2,000 a month, we have some that are making $6,000 a month, right. So, you know, it's, it certainly helps you to understand what's possible.

Alex Ferrari 14:58

Linda Nelson 14:58
As opposed to how much Your film is going to make,

Alex Ferrari 15:01
Right it's it's almost impossible depending on that, even if you have Brad Pitt in it, like you have estimates, I know. But there's movies that Brad Pitt made that made hundreds of millions of dollars, and there are others that made right 10s of millions of dollars, which, by the way, I would be happy with either. This is very true. Um, now, how has the streaming game changed the landscape for distribution?

Linda Nelson 15:30
Um, I think, you know, obviously, it is the most dramatic change in the past 30 years. And I think that the major players way underestimated how quickly streaming would become the accepted way to watch movies. And also, a couple of years ago, the technology wasn't available to allow people to watch movies in so many different ways, right? I mean, it used to be if you, you know, you you've made a movie, it would come out on DVD, it will go into blockbuster, if you were really lucky, it would stay there for three months, and a bunch of people would rent it, and then that would be the end of it over it's

Alex Ferrari 16:21
Pretty much it's dead in the water for

Linda Nelson 16:23
Right. For Indies. I mean, you know, big blockbuster films that become classics, yes, you might be able to still be able to get a hold of those all the time. But Indies, really kind of cycled through these rental stores fairly quickly. But now, and also, there was very limited shelf space. So how you know how many movies could be available at any point in time was very limited, right. But now we have unlimited shelf space, we have so many different ways to watch movies, sometimes people watch on tablets, they watch on their laptops, they watch on their television, they watch on their phone. So you know, there's so many different ways for people to consume your movie now as well. And there's no shelf life. We have we have films that are 810 years old, that are still earning good money.

Alex Ferrari 17:18
That's amazing,

Linda Nelson 17:18
Which is unbelievable. And we have like n For example, we have a number of films, where people were with another distributor, and their contracts expired, and they never got paid any money at all. Maybe they got a small mg in the beginning, but that never saw any money after that. And as soon as the contract expired, they came to us and now they're earning money for the first time. And their film might be, I don't know, 10 years old, like we have this film called cherry, which is a terrific film, you know, and and they were with another distributor and the rights were, you know, tied up. It was originally released in 2010. Right, right. And so so as soon as the rights Well, what wound up happening is that they're there. Another film of theirs that came out much later, they came with us. So as soon as that, as cherry was available from the other distributor, they had us do it. And now that film is making money for the first time, you know that they're seeing money from that and it came out originally in 2010.

Alex Ferrari 18:34
That's amazing.

Linda Nelson 18:35
And I also i mean they're they're thrilled because they thought they'll never see any money from it. But now here it is. It's you know, it's 2018 and on the front end, and the film's doing really, really well.

Alex Ferrari 18:47
That's amazing. That's really

Linda Nelson 18:50
I'm Brett Robertson's in it. So she you know, was not a huge star back when that movie was made, but she is doing really well now. You know, she has a I don't know where IMDb score is 149

Alex Ferrari 19:02
She's doing all right. Now, can you tell? Can you tell the audience a little bit about the difference between s VOD t VOD, and a VOD.

Linda Nelson 19:12
Yes. Very, very important to understand all of these different VODs or video on demand, right. And, and it's important to understand that, that different demographics are served better by different types of VOD and that's something that we you know, recently figured out for our for our own company. Normally will release a film especially if we've done a limited theatrical on it. We can talk about that limited theatrical option a little bit later. We will put a film out like on Amazon paid transactional first right and see If we can get any traction actually selling it because that's where you're gonna make, if it actually gets traction and sells, you know, they pay half of that money comes to us whether it's rental or purchase. So that's called paid transactional. Sometimes it's called p VOD. Sometimes it's called t VOD, or transactional or paid transactional. And, and so we, we, we try to do that first. But if there's no names in it, and there's not huge buzz going on about it, you're, you're probably better off being on prime and then we'll move it to Amazon Prime. Now amazon prime, it looks to a user. The same as Netflix was, it looks like it's free. But it's not. And there's a huge difference between the two platforms, Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Hulu are all what's called s VOD, which is subscription video on demand, which means that people pay an annual fee to have access to that platform. Now, the problem, you know, for indie filmmakers, is that Netflix has a different payment scheme than amazon prime and some other platforms. So Netflix pays a flat, annual or 18 months fee. And they spread those payments over the term. Right. And so say, for example, they are going to give you $20,000 for your film, that means that you're going to get $5,000 a quarter, right? Now, they really want an exclusive window. While you're with Netflix, they don't want you out on any other platforms, which to me is horrible, because what happens is that then, because so many people have Netflix, almost almost your entire audience is gonna watch it on Amazon, and I mean on Netflix, and that's all the money you're ever going to see. So so they wouldn't really cannibalize your revenue.

Alex Ferrari 22:00
Now, are they buying a lot of indie movies, I hear that they're not doing a notch.

Linda Nelson 22:04
They're not buying a lot of independent films. Because their business model favors serialized content. Right. So more like TV shows that type of content. But But Amazon on the other hand plate pays by the minutes watched. So if you have a strong film, and you have good social media marketing, you could actually earn very, very well we have we have a film that's made close to half a million dollars this year on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 22:37
Now, what do they pay? What is what is their rate is?

Linda Nelson 22:42
The rate is extremely complicated. And, and it's impossible to tell somebody what that rate is going to be until it's released. So what happens is they have a tiered system. And what they will pay six cents a minute, up till 100,000. And from 100,000 to a half a million, they pay 10 cents and from a half a million to a million they pay

Alex Ferrari 23:12
15 cents. Well, that's that's not permitted. That's per hour watched. Isn't that crowd watched? Yeah.

Linda Nelson 23:18
Okay, so So, on our catalog for, for example, we have some earning 15 cents we have some are a lot earning 10 cents most that's predominant. One for us is 10 cents, and some earning six cents. You know, the six centers tend to be ones that have been out for a long time, and people have forgotten about them, and they're on to the next film and they don't bother nurturing them anymore. Right. So they're and and it's important to remember that you really do need to maintain at least a maintenance schedule of, you know, social media on your older films, and you can schedule that stuff. Sure. It doesn't become it's not doesn't have to be terribly time consuming. And, you know, I remind me to talk about post post, that's my my new buzzword

Alex Ferrari 24:11
Post post you mean deliverables?

Linda Nelson 24:14
No post posts is, is actually marketing. It's like a final phase of production. Got our after post.

Alex Ferrari 24:22
Okay, so I will I will

Linda Nelson 24:24
Make a note and we'll talk about I will post post guys, because it's critical. So anyway, so back to Amazon. Now, what I like about their new pay scheme is that there's no longer any kind of cap so your films don't stop earning. We had some films last year when they first announced that plan that we're gonna cap out well, they did cap out. And then so all of a sudden the film that's making 20,000 was making 20,000 a month, you know, capped out and couldn't earn any more for a whole calendar. Our year. So they removed that cap, which was great. So when you have strong films, you're going to just keep on earning. We like that. And also, because we're considered a studio by Amazon, we're in 120. territories.

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Oh, so you're so you have access much more than amazon video direct, let's say,

Linda Nelson 25:19
Right, exactly. So if you're just an individual filmmaker, and you go on Amazon, all you're getting is US and UK, because you can't even get Germany and Japan anymore, which was they were offering to individuals for a little while, but not anymore. So US and UK is all you can get if you're just an individual filmmaker, which is why that should be your last resort. If you can't find a good distribution partner, then do that. But if you can find a good one, then you can be in 120 territories. So that's what you want to do. Because every day more and more people in all these territories are adopting are adopting, streaming, just like it happened in the United States, Amazon didn't happen overnight, in the United States, we had the first downloadable film from Amazon in 2007. And we have about picture of that on our website. You know, and so here we are 10 years later, and it's firmly established here in the US. But you know, this, it's all new to a lot of the foreign territory. So it's gonna take a little time, I don't think it'll take that long. But it might take two years or three years, but you still want your film there and to have a presence so that you can take advantage of it when it really starts to grab because there won't be that much content there. You know, there's not won't be as much competition. So and, and it used to be on Amazon that foreign territories all earned six cents, no matter how much they were watch. So they changed that, too. So now we get the same opportunity for foreign territories that we do for the US as far as payment tiers. So the other advantage of being with a distributor relative to platforms is that they have they have algorithms that create recommendations for people. And and one of the one of the heaviest weighted out. algorithm element is the studio that you're with. So in other words, if you bring up one of our films, then the recommendation engine or algorithm is going to go out there and look for other indie writes films that might be in the same genre have some of the same actors,

Alex Ferrari 27:28
Because you're a studio according to

Linda Nelson 27:30
Our studio according. So. So that's really, that's really important too, because that really push that surfaces, all of our films, and that really helps.

Alex Ferrari 27:41
Wow, you cut through a lot of the of the you rise to the top.

Linda Nelson 27:45
That's right. That's right. So that's really good. So so then that's it. So now we've talked about s VOD, and TV, VOD. Avon is a very interesting option. And really what a VOD is it's ads. It's a the a part is for advertising. And that stands for that stands for advertising. And so so those channels that are a VOD channels, they're going to insert ads before, during, and after your movie. Now, you know, not too far back, we all watch movies on television. And there were always advertising. So there's a lot of people that are quite comfortable with having ads. My personal preference is to not have ads and be able to watch a movie straight. So but but there's a huge part of the demographic, it really can't afford to spend $120 on cable, or whatever it takes to get all of these subscription charges, you know, so, you know, they don't want to have to pay money to be on prime and pay more money to have Netflix and pay more money for this or that. And so they're quite comfortable. You having a Roku box and watching ads supported channels.

Alex Ferrari 29:05
So so and that's a part of VOD is like Roku, who are some of the services. Well,

Linda Nelson 29:09
The the the top ad supported channel is called tubi. tv. Are you familiar with this? I've

Alex Ferrari 29:17
Seen it on my I seen it as I scan through my apps

Linda Nelson 29:19
Night so so tubi TV is what is the most popular right now. Now, I'm about two years ago, we wanted to get in on this so called Ott market, which is the streaming channels. They're called the Ott for over the top. And they mean it means that they're they're they they're not linear, their streaming channels that are not linear. They're like their apps basically. And and so it means that you can watch what you want when you want to watch it on any device. Right. So it's people are moving away from the old linear model of broadcasting We'll talk about broadcasts in a few minutes, too, because that's important to see what's happening with that. But people no longer want to have a TV Guide and have to look up something and say, Oh, I gotta be home on Tuesday night at three, you know? Right. I mean, I think those days are pretty much over.

Alex Ferrari 30:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Linda Nelson 30:28
But so, so there is a huge demographic that is maybe a little bit lower income, right, or maybe less educated, or whatever, they they aren't going to spend the money on prime and Netflix and those expensive subscription channels. And they're quite happy to have ad supported channels. And so tubi is doing huge. And we have films that are if you go to a to b TV right now, you'll see like our top earning film is sitting. It's, it's, it's sometimes its first, sometimes its second, but it's always in the top three or four films on tubi.

Alex Ferrari 31:07
Oh, yeah. And you can you expect to make a decent revenue if your

Linda Nelson 31:12
Films making 20 grand a month?

Alex Ferrari 31:14
Just off to be or? Yes, no, Toby? Wow.

Linda Nelson 31:19
That's what you gotta have, you gotta have a hit, you know, you can't, you know, it's, it's, and you have to really, really work at what you're doing. So it's really important that people understand that, that everybody's not going to make that kind of money that you really have to commit to learning how to use social media and use it well, to engage with your audience.

Alex Ferrari 31:44
I mean, I'll give you a perfect example. I'm, I'm a recent cable cutter. And I cut and I cut my cable for the first time because I discovered YouTube TV.

Linda Nelson 31:53
I love you to

Alex Ferrari 31:54
YouTube TV for 40 bucks a month. I mean, you can't beat it. And the way it allows you to like if you liked the show, let's say the Big Bang Theory, yeah, and you add it to your library automatically, wherever it plays on the in the world that it controls, it will record it for you in order with episodes and by season. So you basically where you used to have to go out and buy DVDs for seasons, you have access to sure with ads, but sometimes you can skip through those ads without even even stopping. It's it's fascinating how the world is changing. Now it's, and let's talk about broadcast. And let's talk about broadcast. Because Is there any 100 left? Well,

Linda Nelson 32:34
I'm gonna just mention that I'm gonna do a plug for us. So two years ago, we thought, Oh, we've got to get in on this Ott model. So we had a subscription channel built called indie rights movies. Okay. Right. And we found it so difficult to get subscribers, because and then we realized, you know, what, we're trying to compete with Netflix. Right? You know, and, and why somebody's gonna pay $5 a month, you know, just to see any rights movies when they can be on Netflix and have access to 1000s and 1000s and 1000s. So we kind of just let it lapse. I mean, it's still there. But we might get one or two new subscribers a month, you know, you know, just, you know, we thought ridiculous. So then, but then, about six months ago, a company approached us that had millions of dollars worth of advertising that they needed to place on a channel, and they built us a beautiful ad supported channel, and that channel is going to launch on September 17. Oh, congratulations. So our goal is to compete with TV TV, and I think we have a good chance at it because I can see that our films are earning well on TV. So, um, you know, I think that, you know, so that is a it's a Roku channel, and you'll see it in the, you know, Roku lineup, and it's indie rights movies for free. And so I think that it's going to be, you know, very good revenue earner for our filmmakers. So, so we're, we're, that's something that we're gonna do.

Alex Ferrari 34:11
That's, um, that's a really see I haven't really not heard of, I mean, I know about Avon, but I did not know, like the inner workings like you've just discussed. So that's a really interesting business model, because you're basically giving it away for you're basically turning into an old school broadcast channel.

Linda Nelson 34:28
That's right. You're basically people can watch what they want when they want to watch it.

Alex Ferrari 34:32
Right and it'll pause. Right so it is the best of both worlds except for that kind of consumer who doesn't want to pay 10 bucks a month for Netflix or 20 bucks a month for HBO or whatever it is. Right? That's really all they have to do is buy a Roku box. That's right, and plug it into their TV and you're out and you're ready to sell and

Linda Nelson 34:53
Even no TVs have those channels built in. Your channel is going to be built into TV.

Alex Ferrari 35:00
Right, right. That's insane. That's insane. So let's talk about broadcast is it? Is there money left?

Linda Nelson 35:08
There, there is some, but it is dwindling and it and linear broadcast is dwindling, the fastest being for the reasons that we just spoke about, people don't want to have to commit to a certain time on a certain date to watch something. So what you're seeing happen is that the big time players in broadcast are now all streaming. So there's HBO now they're stars now there so time now are shifting, they have realized that they've got to shift, you know, into so um, there still will be opportunities for those networks to purchase or license independent content. And and we licensed some of our content to like Starz and Showtime and stuff like that. So it's still there. But it is certainly turning into all streaming. You know, so basically, it's all becoming digital. And Ott, and I think that the regular you know, network aspect of it is just really doomed.

Alex Ferrari 36:23
Do you? Yeah, I was gonna ask you, do you think that network, I mean, there's obviously the three big or the four big networks, but like, the CN ns of the world, the the news networks, the discovery channels, all of those kind of neural streaming. They're all out there as streaming, but but it's cable. I mean, cable is still a thing, it will be a thing for a while.

Linda Nelson 36:46
Did I say? I don't I don't know about that. I think that I think that what's gonna happen is that it's really they're just going to become cable providers. I mean, internet providers. You know, I'm, that's all I use. I have you know, we have at&t. Right, and we am for our business. Obviously, we have to have fast internet. So we have 1000 megabytes per second up and down. Nice. Which is great. But we must have that because we have to download a livery. Yeah, we're delivering electronically. So. So we need that but, but it's a that's all we have. You know, we have we haven't had cable for

Alex Ferrari 37:26
Five years. I think you see you're much more ahead of the game than I was. I literally just cut off my DirecTV. Now, so um, so is there any money left in limited theatrical?

Linda Nelson 37:38
mindset, no money, no prestige and buzz for your film? super important. So

Alex Ferrari 37:45
tell me about limited? Michael.

Linda Nelson 37:47
We we do we do one every week? Okay, so, you know, Friday night, we're always releasing, you know, one film. And we're booked now until early December.

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Here locally in Los Angeles.

Linda Nelson 38:02
Yes, we use right now we use a theater called arena, Sena lounge. It's a 53 seat theater. It's, it's, it's beautiful. It has DC great DCP and great sound, you know, projector and stuff. So we do a one week release for a number of reasons. One, all, just about every one of our films gets an LA Times review, we can't guarantee it. But 95% of them do get an LA Times review, which is very valuable. Many get a Hollywood Reporter review. But what's most important about it is that when you do that one week release, you're getting a Rotten Tomato page. So we get and we get that we order that Rotten Tomato page like two weeks before the film releases. And you also get a Fandango page, though, because that's where tickets are sold. And so those two things are very, very important. People really underestimate how important Rotten Tomatoes is. You know, so if you go on Rotten Tomatoes, and you look up like one of our films like everlasting or stray, and they have all of these fresh tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes is the first place that buyers look after they watch a trailer for a film. They immediately go there and look at that. And we noticed that starting about a year and a half, two years ago at our office at AFM we'd be sitting on the couch, you know, they would you know, they watch a trailer go Yeah, that looks interesting. And then say Hold on a minute. And then he goes our phone and they're on Rotten Tomatoes, looking to see what the tomato scores are.

Alex Ferrari 39:42
Because they don't want to have to watch the movie.

Linda Nelson 39:44
Well, they want to know they want to know what the critics think and they but and they also want to know what the audience thinks. So when we train, we train and educate our filmmakers how to understand what's important, you know, for billing Buzz for their films. So we train them how to get reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Because it's really, really important. And, and and the public uses it to people look up,

Alex Ferrari 40:12
I look it up all the time. Yeah, it's it has become the, for better or worse it can sink a movie or it can make a movie studios hated studios, absolute

Linda Nelson 40:22
Studios hate it because they don't bother to work it. All right. But if you could you can really research critics and write to critics that are approved by rotten tomatoes and, and get good reviews for your film. You know, if you get enough, you know, unless your real film is really horrible. Right? You know, then you won't, but but if you've got a decent film, some are gonna like it, some aren't. Right? I mean, and I find I could never guess like, what's the LA Times reviews? ones I think are going to get a great review don't want it. I think all this one, they'll never think much of this. And they'll get a great review. So I give up and if you know, if someone like me with experience with 500 films, films, can't guess which ones are going to get a decent review the rest of us.

Alex Ferrari 41:10
Yeah, the rest of us aren't gonna be a good producer.

Linda Nelson 41:13
You know, so. So that's important in Fandango. We have films that, you know, the Fandango trailer has gotten over a million reviews. And I can't tell you that really helps on YouTube, because they have all those. Fandango has all those channels on YouTube was trailers.

Alex Ferrari 41:30
Yeah. Is that how that works? Because I always wondered why those channels on YouTube are allowed to play these trailers and not get dinged for the copyright.

Linda Nelson 41:37
Now, because we're they're sent to them by the distributors, like we send those to them, they have our permission. Got it. And you just have to be that if you have a large enough audience on YouTube, then you become Okay. Well, we're, we're a partner with Google. So we have all of our movies go on YouTube movie rentals, of course. So you know, so so when, you know, when we give the trailer to somebody, then it's not gonna, it comes up in a list that somebody got it, and then we just dismiss it. Got it. And if it's somebody, we don't want to have it, then we make them take it down.

Alex Ferrari 42:21
Now, now I'm going to talk about something that you and I had disagreements about the past. I know you I know why, you know what I'm going to talk about

Linda Nelson 42:32
Self versus traditional.

Alex Ferrari 42:33
Yes, there's this issue, because I remember when I was about to release this as Meg, my first feature, I got a message on Facebook, and you're like, please tell me you're not self distributing your movie? I remember you said like, Yes, I am. Why would you do that? What's wrong with you? And I said, and I said, Well, I have an audience, and I think it's gonna be okay. She's like, and then it was a pause. And then you're like, yeah, I'll probably work for you. Because you already have an audience and you can sell it to them. Okay, fine. And that was that that was the exchange, everybody. And was it fine. It was wonderful. No, we made a we made I mean that retirement money, but we made money, and I still get checks every quarter. My partner, I are very happy with the way it went. We sold it to Hulu. We sold it internationally, through through an international distributor who just picked up International.

Linda Nelson 43:24
So you did get a

Alex Ferrari 43:25
Sales agent for international not for domestic. And then now we just found a domestic partner for wraparound rights. But I still maintain s VOD. And I think Amazon and iTunes, those are we control those but everything else they would control for Apple.

Linda Nelson 43:43
But Amazon, are you only in two countries?

Alex Ferrari 43:46
Ah, no, no, we could because we went through the stripper. We had access not to 120. I forgot. It's probably like eight or nine. Yeah, they got a bunch of them. But we pulled all of them off internationally. And because because of the International deals that were going on. So we just literally just control the US, which is where the bulk of our money came from. I'm curious to see what would have happened if we would have gone with someone like yourself. But also that movie was a proof of concept. I wanted to prove to my audience that it could be done. The movie's budget was ridiculously low. So I did not have to recoup a lot of money. Actually, I was in the black when I started shooting because it was crowdfunded. It was an experiment. So it worked out perfectly for what I wanted to do. Will I do that on my next movie coming up? I don't know. We'll see. Right?

Linda Nelson 44:40
So if you if you have a film that you believe has no global opportunity, you might be fine just doing us on Amazon. You know, but if you do a film that has any kind of goal Audience you're always going to be better off with someone to handle worldwide rights. These days, we won't sign a film unless we get global VOD. And the reason we want and then on top of that we actually have two contracts. Now we have a three year contract for domestic distribution, plus global VOD. Alright, so that so that we can, we can do DVD if you want. It's not mandatory, but we have a great DVD blu ray deals. So there's, there's no reason for anybody not to do that. There's no cost. And it's very expensive, then, and we keep our contract term short, because we know that people will love us and stay with us. So we don't worry, we don't have to ask somebody for seven years, or 10 years or 15 years, like most companies still do, right. And we do that because we know you're going to stay because you're going to get paid and more honest, and you're going to get good reports. And we can't guarantee you how much you're going to make. But you will know exactly what's going on with not only us, but other, you know, filmmakers like yourself. And so then, on top of that, we have a one year contract for foreign sales. And that allows that allows us to take your film to Cannes and AFM because we exhibit at both, right. And you don't want to be with a sales rep that's just walking around. You want somebody who's an actual exhibitor. And if the member if possible, let's if does, if does the International Film and Television Alliance, and it's a global organization, they are the ones that put on the American Film market, got it. And that gives you a level of credibility with buyers that you can't get without, you know, you don't have it without that. So you'll notice when you walk around AFM on the door sign, it'll say if the member if they're a member of VISTA, and so instills a level of trust, right. And believe me, they kick out people that that, you know, don't pay and stuff. So it's a good assurance to foreign buyers, that you know, you're going to get their money. So and it's a good assurance to us if we buy from people that are certified. So it's it's like a kind of a verification certification situation. But that one year, and both of those contracts renew automatically unless you decide you want to leave. And out of 650 filmmaker films, we've only ever had three people leave. And that was because they thought they could do better. And we've actually got apologies from if I'm still waiting on the third. So all right, so So anyway, so the reason we like so we want to foreign without the domestic. And the The reason we like to have both, and we prefer to have both, but we will do just domestic and what's the global VOD without the forum. The reason we like to have both is that we then control turning on turning off channels, you know, I mean, territories, you know, where you wouldn't have that if he had two different companies. So what how you had to take down Amazon,

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Right? That was it. That was a little bit of a combo, every time a foreign distributor called me. He's like, Hey, we have a deal in the UK, pull it off.

Linda Nelson 48:48
So so so that way, it's easy for us, we just have a checkbox. So you know, so if we have a buyer for any territory, it's simple enough for us to manage those rights. So so we like that. And that's, you know, so that that makes it very helpful.

Alex Ferrari 49:03
So but there is a but I mean, and I believe I thought with my movie, this is Meg had absolutely no international appeal. It was a drama at about a comedian in Hollywood. It did have recognizable faces. Some faces that, you know, Krista Allen, who was in Baywatch and a bunch of other movies. So we had a few faces, but no stars, you know, our, you know, bankable stars. We thought we had absolutely no appeal, but I was mistaken because we sold China, South Africa, the UK, you know, China for God's sakes. And we I was like, what, how, why? So you'd be amazed.

Linda Nelson 49:44
We sell around 20 films, a market to China. And there are ones that you would not, you know, think you know, had international opportunity. But they do so and we get very, very good revenue for China. Do you? Can you share what you got for China? Or do you not want to do that?

Alex Ferrari 50:11
Um, we got under under 10k.

Linda Nelson 50:15
Okay, so, um, we get we regularly get between 10 and 15. So, you know, so I mean, it's good, because we see, I mean, we have filmmakers that come to us and say, oh, everything's available except for China. We already sell that. And I'll say, Well, how much did you sell for? And I'll go, Oh, we got $1,000 for it. You know, so, so there's tons of people running around out there trying to get rights for China. Don't fall for it. Right. Okay. There be and and this has to do a lot with this all VOD stuff, because there's a huge hunger out there for VOD deals.

Alex Ferrari 50:57
There's a billion people over there.

Linda Nelson 50:59
Right. And so so there's a lot of a lot of brokers running around. They're not really distributors, they're not even really sales agents. They're like brokers. Now, can

Alex Ferrari 51:10
You talk a little bit about DVD and Blu Ray? Is there a market still for that?

Linda Nelson 51:13
Yes. Absolutely. And, uh, specifically, you know, genre. films like horror, horror, fans love to have physical media in their hands, they collect the boxes and all of that stuff. They're collectors. I so but But definitely, you know, there's some DVD sales and you know, like, in all genres, even, you know, like, dramas and Doc's do pretty well, we what we do, we, we had a very bad experience with one of our films, with a DVD company that went bankrupt in the middle of a sale. So in other words, it was all old school, DVD distribution, you had a guess? How many that your, you know, copies, you were going to make them and print them, replicate them and have them all sitting in a warehouse. And then they get shipped out to places and the ones that sell you get paid for. And sometimes they return the ones that don't sell and don't forget to damage and in the end, hopefully, you make a little money. Well, we did this great deal for Walmart 20,000 copies, we had them all made, shipped them off to Walmart A week later, the distributor filed bankruptcy, and we've never seen a penny, guess who had to pay for them? Oh, we did. Right. So that was it. I said that is the last traditional old school DVD blu ray we're ever going to do. So now we want now we work with a manufacturer on demand partner. They're the largest one out there. And they place all of our DVDs and blu rays on about 100 webs, online stores. No charge to the filmmaker, we leave it up to the filmmaker to author the boss of the DVD and blu ray, give us a nice, you know, they give give us artwork, we give them a template. And they give us the ISO file and the artwork and fill in a metadata sheet cost them nothing. They send it to us, we give it to the manufacturer and they make sure it gets distributed on all those websites. If it gets any traction at all. They might get orders for brick and mortar. So like if it's on Walmart's website. And a lot of people are buying it, they might say Okay, give us 10,000 copies, you know, but there's no returns involved at all right? So it's a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever DVD opportunities are still, you know, strong and and I have to tell you, streaming does not work great all over the country. We have a lot of areas and especially in the middle of the countries that don't have internet that's good enough for streaming. Yeah, right or not?

Alex Ferrari 53:59
Oh, yeah. And people end there's a lot of people who are still, I mean, there's generations and people that still want to own or touch, feel their media and they're not I mean, that will change eventually when they die Oh, when my generation dies off. Alright.

Linda Nelson 54:15
But also I have to say that you know, like when you're giving a gift if you want to give a movie as a gift, you know, it's a lot nicer to have it in the box.

Alex Ferrari 54:24
No, no without question without question and it does come with all the special features and the commentary tracks and all that kind of cool stuff. So I buy the occasional DVD blu ray that I won't buy a DVD but occasional blu ray I'll buy will more likely be a Criterion Collection or so that's

Linda Nelson 54:39
Right it's a classic and it's got interviews with everybody and

Alex Ferrari 54:43
In the in the transfers bits been remastered or something like that. If I ever buy one but but it is going down there but it's still going down. I mean the trend is downwards as far as sales are correct. Oh yeah, way. Yeah. It is. It is going away.

Linda Nelson 55:02
Do you think all the DVD stores are closing? There's, I don't know, if there's any left, there's,

Alex Ferrari 55:08
There's, there's one, there's one or two blockbusters left in the country.

Linda Nelson 55:12
And you know, and and and if you keep an eye on the amount of shelf space that's available at like Target or Walmart or Barnes and Noble, that there just is shrinking and shrinking. All

Alex Ferrari 55:24
Right, and there are there are still video stores. I actually live not too far away from two video stores. I can't believe I'm in Burbank. And I will and they've been there for a decade that I've been here. And I'm like, how do they stay in? But apparently, especially for different type of demographics of people that are not that technically, technology is they're not technically inclined. Right? They still want old school blu rays and DVDs. Yeah. So it's a thing. It's still a thing. Now, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make in distribution?

Linda Nelson 56:01
Not doing a proper job during production so that they can facilitate distribution.

Alex Ferrari 56:08
You're talking about deliverables? That's right. I am. So let's talk. Let's talk about deliverables, because that's one of my favorite topics. Because I'm, I got I've made my bones in post. So please, please preach?

Linda Nelson 56:23
Well, unfortunately, if you don't pay very close attention to what you need as a finished product to deliver to distributors, you're not going to be able to distribute your film to the max. And, and we see so many people shoot at frame rates that aren't right. They don't spray Wait, don't forget, next next frame rates, you know, can cause a lot of problems they have poor audio, I think is the most common problem that we have. And you really no matter how cheap a film you're going to do. Make sure that you get somebody that does the sound that knows what they're doing. Very few people that are making new films get clean sound, so they can't make an m&e track, which is what you must have if you're going to really have good foreign sales. We have about a 70% failure rate, first time somebody distributed. So it sends us their deliverables, the most common problem that we get is that they deliver dual mono instead of real stereo. And I swear about, you know, more than half of the films that we get have dual mono, and it's really it's just not doing the settings right, you know, on their editing system.

Alex Ferrari 58:00
And how about five one

Linda Nelson 58:05
Right now, what's absolutely required for if you want to be on the premium channels, like say iTunes and VUDU and Xbox and Amazon and Google Play, Fandango is that you have to have 1980 by 19 9020 by 1080. progress for two to HQ, stereo, that's the minimum if you have that we can get you on anywhere. However, if you want the best quality and I would assume at some time in the future, it may be a requirement, you will want to do 5.1 the 5.1 that's required by premium channels though is not just the 5.6 5.1 channels, it's eight channel 5.1 and that means that you're also adding for Channel seven and eight a stereo left and right stereo so that way they prepare files so that that the system is d determined by the platform and and if you just have stereo they'll play stereo if you have five point if you have a surround sound system they'll play surround sound so that's why they need to have it all available. And then the some of the other problems that we see with deliverables and we no matter how many times we tell people no color bars or tones on the beginning no countdowns we still get those few flames of black and then straight to the movie. That's the way it's got to be and same on the end a few frames about black and no to pop. Right no to pops. That was for broadcast,

Alex Ferrari 59:58
Right it's it's it's a holdover It's a

Linda Nelson 1:00:00
Holdover from broadcast, so people have to learn to get rid of that. So color

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
Bars is I haven't delivered anything with color bars and years,

Linda Nelson 1:00:07
We still get them. And it's usually from filmmakers that are older that originally, you know, that delivered their previous films to broadcast.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Linda Nelson 1:00:28
Alright, so so so there's that. And then also, platforms are very strict. You're not allowed to have any URLs or website information on the back end.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:38
Yeah, I heard about Yeah, I came across that,

Linda Nelson 1:00:41
He still get that. And so you, you have to remove all of those. And then the next thing that causes a lot of problems is that we tell people, you must have a G rated trailer. And that means no profanity, no nudity, no extreme violence. And yet, we still keep sometimes you have to go back three or four times with people about, you know, what is a G rated trailer? I mean, you can't show slashing someone's throat. Can so someone shooting someone? Right? Right, right. You can have there can be a gun in it, but you can't show them shooting someone,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:22
But you but you can do some like red band trailers or something like that. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 1:01:27
And everybody should do those, but use those strictly for promotion. Sure. But when you do your deliverables, you must have a G rated trailer and under two minutes. The other thing that is, you know, has been an issue is closed captions. It's a requirement now Bye, everybody, everybody. Ah, and I'm more we we actually asked people to have two types of captions, we asked them for SRT, and SCC. Now, the important thing is that while we use a company and recommend a company called rev Doc,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
Yeah, I was about to say rev is,

Linda Nelson 1:02:09
They're they're great. We help them get started. We were one of their first customers.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
They're amazing. I've used them.

Linda Nelson 1:02:14
They're great. I promoted heavily. And they now do subtitles for three bucks a minute, which is great. That's insane.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:21
Remember those, the cost like

Linda Nelson 1:02:23
20 920, you know, a couple $1,000. God was the $8 a minute to $10 a minute for captioning. That's right. And so so now they have a really good option for both. Now the important thing is that you must get the FCC first. When you go to read just just order the SEC, do not order SRT first, because most people don't understand the difference between those two formats. The SCC format actually has two important things about it that SRT captions do not necessarily have. One is called placement information. And so especially for docs, or any films that have kind of any burned in information on them, you're not allowed for the captions to overwrite that. So you have to be able to move those conditions to OPERS. Elsewhere, you know, within the frame for that. So if you order SCC first, right, and you get your sec file, then it will have that placement information. The second information that's really important is that closed captions actually were devised for the Deaf. So there are what are called atmospherics. So in other words, anything that's important for a deaf person to know is happening, like a door slams a phone rings, when we're saying Right, right, that's in the SCC file. It will if you order s if you order SRT file, it's really just like a subtitle file in this in the sense that is only spoken dialogue. And you will not get that those two pieces of information and it will fail. Okay, it will fail certain platforms like iTunes and Google Play. Amazon's more lenient, they'll take. They'll take either. But so it's really important to get your sec files first. And then if you do it from ramp, once you have the SEC file, you can hit the edit button and save it in any other format. And it'll discard all that.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
No, no, I want to ask you a question about 4k because I get filmmakers just constantly I need a master in 4k. I need to master in 6k I'm like you guys are ridiculous.

Linda Nelson 1:04:35
Stop. Yeah, what? Well, 4k. I wouldn't say stop. No, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:39
no, no, no, but like 6k is, you know, I don't 4k is great, but it's not like you said it's not absolutely needed right now.

Linda Nelson 1:04:47
I mean, it's optional right now, but you you should have it. Sure. It's always wonderful to work. But we take it because like we have like on Fandango. We have like 10 4k Films there. It's not the common thing right now but it will be see like right now even on Amazon, they won't even take 4k through Amazon Video.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:06
But it's coming. I mean, look, I mastered $8 million series for Hulu on Hulu original. And they asked for your attend ADP attend ADP for two to HQ stereo, right? That was that was what was going to Hulu I was that, well, if an $8 million shows doing this, I don't know how much this $50,000 indie feature really needs to master in 4k at this point.

Linda Nelson 1:05:28
It doesn't. It's just that it can give give you additional revenue. And and for us, we say, okay, it's optional. We must have that HD,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
How much but is it worth spending the money in post and a production to get that 4k? Master in regards to the revenue that that 4k will bring?

Linda Nelson 1:05:50
Okay, depending on your workflow, there might not be any extra cost? Sure. Okay. Nine years ago, we shot delivered in 4k on a red camera and did everything all the editing and mastering everything ourselves, you know, on Adobe Premiere? Sure, it didn't, there was not one penny of extra cost. Okay. All right. Now, if you are on Apple, or you don't have a powerful computer, you're going to have problems. You know, with the workflow and stuff. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
That's what I mean. That's what I mean. Because if you have the the ability to master and 4k, by all means do it. Right. But if it's going to incur extra harddrive cost because the file sizes are larger, that you can't you can't literally push it through your system,

Linda Nelson 1:06:39
Or Yeah, it's not worth

Alex Ferrari 1:06:41
It's just not worth it. No, no, no, of course, you'd

Linda Nelson 1:06:43
Better have a you know, I mean, we had a big tower with 32 gig of RAM and a six terabyte raid attached to it. So, you know, so we could do it. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Right? It was a different Yeah. But if you can do it great. If you don't, don't go Don't kill killing yourself to try to do it. It's not worth it. Absolutely

Linda Nelson 1:07:03
Not. Now, I will say we're not taking any more SD hopes. Up surprise there. People say Oh, but I have this whole film in my library. Can you do that? No, that the exception is a classic horror from the 80s.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
Of course, because there's always a market for that, isn't there? Yeah, yeah. There's always a market for that. That's it's an it's a that's a sub genre that that always sells and always will probably sell. Now, can you discuss a sales agent versus a traditional distributor? So if we don't understand,

Linda Nelson 1:07:41
Right? Okay. A sales agent is really just a broker. They don't have any direct relationships with any anyone who has an actual outlet for your film. They are looking for other people. They are actually looking for distributors for your film for you. That's all. And they might take 25 30% for doing that. And then they're going to give it to a distributor who's going to take another 20 30% for actually distributing it. So all of a sudden, you've doubled what you got to pay out.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:18
Does that make sense? Makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense.

Linda Nelson 1:08:21
So for example, so for the you for us. For the for VOD, we are a distributor, we have a direct relationship with Amazon, we have a direct relationship with Google Play. There's no middlemen in between. We don't have to go to you know, an outside company to encode your film and dilute and our game you don't know aggregator That's right. We we actually do all of that in house.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Got it? So you're the

Linda Nelson 1:08:52
We're the we're the actual distributor. So we're distributing your film. And in fact, we have many sales agents that bring us films. And you're like, Okay, yes. And unfortunately, sometimes their films that we wanted to get, but they weren't with the sales agent instead. And that still winds up with us.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:13
So the filmmakers is

Linda Nelson 1:09:15
That we're paying all we don't even pay the filmmaker, we pay the sales agent. Oh, God, Okay, got it. Now then. Now there are producers reps that are I say gos agent. sales agents call themselves producers reps because that's really what they are. You take someone there are reputable producers reps out there like circus Road Films. And they send a lot of films to us. Right, you know, so,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:42
You know Sebastian and Glen.

Linda Nelson 1:09:43
I know Sebastian and Glenn very well. In fact, I'm doing I'm doing a panel at downtown Film Festival in October and I always have Glenn come and speak. We live for a long time. Glenn's

Alex Ferrari 1:09:56
Actually in my movie. As an actor Glenn and Sebastian are Both movies,

Linda Nelson 1:10:01
You know, and and, and, and he's terrific and you know, wonderful I think a lot of new film makers especially it's their first film, or and they're not they live in Ohio or whatever. And they've gotten in a good festival and they made a great film and they are lost, they have no idea. Also, who's good, who's bad, who they should be working with, and and he is great working with, you know, people that need their handheld for a bit, you know, that are because, you know, like you said distribution is it's daunting.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
It is absolutely, and circus Ron, and Sebastian and Glenn are both awesome.

Linda Nelson 1:10:40
And so they they, you know, they send a lot of great films our way and we really appreciate it. Now, Glen also has a social media marketing company called media circus. Yes.

So, you know, because there are still a lot of filmmakers who don't know about post post. And I always make this comparison of that, you know, like, when you make a film, you know, you you're develop, develop your development. And then pre production is like your pregnancy. And then when you get, then you're in production. And at the end, when you have your festival premiere, that's like giving birth. And then you have to nurture your film after post, you've got to do post post, which is nurturing,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:23
You got to raise that baby

Linda Nelson 1:11:25
Gotta raise the baby. Because if you abandon the baby, there's no telling what's gonna happen. Go down the wrong alley. All right, good. So, post post is my new favorite phase. And that's why we educate our filmmaker. That's a great analogy, by the way, the

Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
Baby I did, like, once the baby's born and like, oh, okay, I'm good. And like, No, it's just getting started. Exactly. That's great. And I'm gonna steal that one from you, Linda.

Linda Nelson 1:11:52
Yeah, no, no, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's very true. And, and, and they are films, you know, do consumers and take up our so much of our life while we're making them, and then we just dropped the ball, you know, I mean, it's, you can't do it. So. So education for filmmakers is very important to us, we give all our filmmakers like a 50 page marketing plan, that's only you know, they can't print it. You know, it's, it's strictly in house. And, and it really teaches all the basics, and really good techniques for optimizing all of your social media efforts. When it's really, really important. Plus, we have the private group of all of our filmmakers, and we, you know, share resources and support each other,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:39
You're kind of like an unlock. You're like the unicorn of distributors, honestly. I mean, I think as I speak to you, and I've known about you for obviously for years now, but now but kind of getting back into your inner workings You are so opposite of every other distributor that I've that I deal with like a Facebook group. Could you imagine a Facebook group for some of these distribution companies, they would be flames coming out

Linda Nelson 1:13:05
They couldn't do it. They absolutely couldn't do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:10
You know, it's insane. Now, we spoke a little bit about AFM. Can you explain to the audience the importance of AFM to distributors and what exactly you do at AFM. Just a little quick overview of AFM.

Linda Nelson 1:13:22
Okay. AFM is the largest gathering of people in the industry. That happens every year in Santa Monica, they take a big huge hotel Loews hotel, they take all the beds out of the rooms, and they put tables and chairs in there. And all of the people that have content to license rent, basically those rooms and you live there for nine days, and you sit in the room. And what happens is before the event takes place, we get a list of all of the buyers that are registered from the American Film market. And we send what are called avails, which means pertinent information about any films that you're going to be selling at the market. So in other words, we'll have a poster or a trailer or a synopsis description of the genre, you know, information if they've been won any festival awards, cast and crew and and we send those out to all the buyers now because there's a couple of 1000 of them. A lot of them just ignore the those things but others, you know, will actually write back to you and say, I'm interested in this one, this one, this one, I will I'd like to set an appointment. So probably by the time the market starts, our we are booked about half of our time with appointments from people that have responded to those avails that we sent out to the buyers and then then the rest of the time in between The other buyers that come to the market, they walk the hallways. So that there's a book published with every single exhibitor listed in it with a list of the films that they have. And then the buyers actually will walk, there's eight stories of there's eight floors. And so they will actually walk the hallways, and we all have displays of our posters out in the hallway. And if they see something that grabs their mind, or they have sat down with the book and go, Oh, this looks interesting, this looks interesting. And they stop at your office and either set up an appointment, or if you're free, then they'll sit down and talk with you on the spot. And the process is pretty simple. If someone comes in cold, and you say, Hi, how you doing, you know, what do you what kind of films are you interested in? They'll tell you, maybe they'll say, Oh, I just want romance for Korea, or Oh, I just want a horror for Japan, etc. Or they might say, Oh, you know, I'm looking for VOD rights for you know, six different territories or whatever. And so you sit down, and you start to show them what you have. So we bring with there's a couple of different ways for people to see our films. There's two important buyer databases that go along with canon AFM. One is called sin Ando and the exhibitors every time you're exhibiting one of those two markets, your films are on there for a year. So we've been on there for four years now. So our catalogs pretty extensive. And so those online databases have trailers, so that people can actually watch your trailers ahead of time. And that brings in a lot of buyers to the office. And then the other one is called the film catalogs the film catalog, anyone can see, you don't have to be a member. Anyone could go on to film catalog and look up indie rights and see what you could

Alex Ferrari 1:16:56
Sign up. You can sign up for the email list i get i get i get constant emails about all the movies that they have. And you're there all the time.

Linda Nelson 1:17:04
Yeah, we are constantly having new films on that carousel. Because we're if the members, only the films that are uploaded by if the members get to go on that carousel, only about 100 of us 100 150 maybe. So there's a limited number of if the members and people whose films get on there, and you can look, you can look up who's a member and if to online so you can see who you're dealing with. So so that's the process now. Now, sometimes you will actually sit like in Cannes this year at AFM last year in Canada. The very first meeting we had was a company from China called hawala. They sat down with us and they had a list with them already. They said we're interested, we want to see the trailer for this, this, this, this and this. they wound up signing a deal memo before the undercard can for 13 days first meeting first day. That's under 13 films. That's terrific. So now they're regular buyers must have bought from us AFM last year they bought from us and can and there we've already have a meeting set up for them for AFM this year. So what happens? There's still a lot of this business that depends on relationships. I mean, a lot of people think, oh, pretty soon it'll all it'll be done online. And I don't know, I think I like to meet people that I'm doing business with face to face. And I you know, like and my partner is great at sussing out people, somebody walk out, no, go we're not doing business with that. And he has a real really good instincts about that better than me. And so, you know, it's I like meeting people in person. And so those markets, that's where you build those relationships, you know, you might have drinks with someone you might have lunch with someone you know, or, you know, yeah, and, and also they have a buyers lounge. That's great. That's only for if the members where you can go back with the buyers to these very big comfortable gowns with couches and, and they have, you know, players so that they can watch movies, watch your movies, and you can talk about them. So it's a, it's a terrific opportunity just to have to build face to face relationships with buyers. And then, you know, like, people that have been doing that for a long time. They have all the same buyers come back every year and buy content from them. So it's very much a relationship business. And so that takes a while I mean, it's we're on it were our fourth in our fourth year of doing that. And, you know, every year we we build better and better relationships with buyer. That's the process and then and then sometimes people will take they'll say, Okay, I email me a screener for this one or that one and then they go back and they watch the movie in their hotel room. At night, and then they might come back the next day and say, Yes, I want to do a deal memo on that. Otherwise, you go back home after the markets over with and then you have to have follow up emails to all of the people that you send screeners to. And so it can take three, six months to actually finalize some of these deals. So it'll go anywhere from doing a deal memo on the spot, you know, to six months, you know, down the road before you actually combinate a deal with somebody. So it's quite a time it can be a time consuming process.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:36
Now how should look so and I know a lot of filmmakers listening right now they're like, Okay, I'm gonna have a movie I just finished it. I'm gonna go to AFM to see if I can get it sold. And how how should a filmmaker prepare to go to AFM and what they should should they be doing to approach a distributor like yourself, and at what point at AFM, because I know a lot of people make the mistake of trying to do it at the beginning, which you're pretty much packed on.

Linda Nelson 1:21:01
Yeah, I mean, I think a good idea you can do what's called a half market pass, which is the last half of the market. The first half of the market, most of the exhibitors are very busy selling, you know, at meetings that they have already established to had preset, so the half market is is good. And what you should do is do your homework, all you got to do is you can go on to the film catalog, and you can research and find companies, you know that acquire films like your films, like if you if you have a doc, you don't want to go to a company that only does dramas, or you don't want to go to somebody that only does horror film. So you can do all of that research ahead of time and you can actually email any of the companies and try to set an appointment. So that before you get to AFM that way you can cram all the beatings you want into, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:58
Those last days.

Linda Nelson 1:21:59
Yeah, those last days. And you guys are interested in Korea? It's Yeah. Oh, absolutely. So it's crazy to go, there was no preparation. I'll just show up. A waste of time. Right? It? Yeah, I would never just show up because, you know, you Where do you start? No, there's, there's, you know, there's 100 offices there. Where do you Where do you start? You know, you need to at least have an idea of what companies might be interested in your type of project. And the same thing if you're looking for financing, because there are a lot of companies there that will finance but you need to set those you should try to set all of those meetings at a time.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:39
So I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my, my guests. I think I've added a few since last time we spoke What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Linda Nelson 1:22:52
A filmmaker, make the movie that you want to make research heavily before you start production so that you can understand what you need to create. If you want to be able to have your film distributed.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:12
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Linda Nelson 1:23:18
The 4 agreements?

Alex Ferrari 1:23:20
Oh, really? Who wrote that?

Linda Nelson 1:23:23
It is written by a tall tech Shaman Oh, and it is very, very basic way of life.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:41
It's called the Four Agreements, the

Linda Nelson 1:23:43
The Four Agreements, interest and it's something that I give people as gifts if I think they're kinda, you know, like, ready? Yeah. Well, or just, you know, need some good advice about, you know, how to live life and it's a lot about being honest.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:02
No, stop it.

Linda Nelson 1:24:04
It's a lot about always doing your best. And then being okay with that every day, you know, you may not, you know, feel like you've accomplished everything you should accomplish, but just try your best every day. It's about not taking things personally because anyone you interact with, right is filtering everything through their own brain and their own experiences. And it's very easy to get discouraged in our business.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:33
Oh, god, yes.

Linda Nelson 1:24:35
So, to learn that skill, of not taking things, criticism personally from other people, you know, is is really, really important. You know, and you have to look inside and you know, drive your passion, you know, from your insides, not from other people's opinions about what you're doing. And good Those things are really, really important.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:01
I'm gonna look up look up. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Linda Nelson 1:25:14
I would say, living in the present moment to totally stay out of the past. We can learn from the past. But if you live in the past, you wind up feeling a lot of feelings that are not necessarily like regret, and guilt. And they can really get in the way of today. And you really shouldn't spend too much time in the future. because it keeps you from doing stuff today. So it's not even a vision. That's right. And yeah, and there you'll there's so many possibilities. How could you ever really have any real grasp of what it's gonna be? I'll tell you. I my life is so different than

Alex Ferrari 1:26:03
I think everybody's is honestly it's just you'd never

Linda Nelson 1:26:07
Staying in the present is just, you know, really, really important life skill. Learning to stay there.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:14
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Linda Nelson 1:26:16
Oh, my God,

Alex Ferrari 1:26:17
Just as of today as of right now in the present moment.

Linda Nelson 1:26:22
Blade Runner.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:23
Oh, yes. Thank you.

Linda Nelson 1:26:25
Casablanca classic. And current soldato, the new Who? Benicio del Toro movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:39
Oh, really?

Linda Nelson 1:26:40
I Sakario

Alex Ferrari 1:26:41
Oh, you mean Sakario, yes.

Linda Nelson 1:26:43
That was I think it was terrific.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:46
Wonderful. I didn't see the sequel. I heard it was pretty good.

Linda Nelson 1:26:48
Oh, this is the sequel.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:49
Oh, you're talking about the sequel? One? Oh, yeah. No one better than the first?

Linda Nelson 1:26:54
Oh, yeah. If that's possible? Yes. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:59
And and where does

Linda Nelson 1:27:00
That that's an old one, a new one and one in between?

Alex Ferrari 1:27:04
Now, where can people find more about you, and indie REITs. And what you guys are doing?

Linda Nelson 1:27:10
indierights.com is our website. And there's all kinds of historical information on there. What we're doing now movies, we're distributing a place where you can submit your film to us for distribution. And then as of September 17, our new Roku channel indie writes movies for free, will be available on the 17th of September. So we're really excited about that. And of course, we're also on Facebook, and we didn't really talk much about social media marketing, we should do another one, because that's really, really important. But we're we're on YouTube and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter,

Alex Ferrari 1:27:50
I will, I will, I will come back and do another one with you. If you're so generous with your time again, I might do another because we this has become an epic conversation as I knew it would when I asked you to come back on this, I'm like, this is gonna we're gonna be here for a while. So thank you so much for being so generous with your time and dropping and dropping some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today. So I really appreciate it. Linda, thank you so much.

Linda Nelson 1:28:12
You're very very welcome.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:14
That was epic. I want to thank Linda, so much for dropping an immense amount of knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you want to get any of her links or how to contact Linda, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/274. And guys, I will be at AFM this year. So I'm going to be flying around I'm going to be there about three or four days. So if you're going to be at AFM, a please message me, email me, let me know we'll grab a coffee, we'll sit down we'll talk and we'll try to schedule a time so we can all you know get together and and just talk shop and see if see if I can help you or be of service to you in any other way I can. So definitely check it out. And if you are in LA, and you have a film that you want to sell or even thinking about making a movie, if you can head over to AFM and even get a day pass just to see how movies are sold. It is very, very, very educational. I went for the first time last year and it blew my mind back this year and I plan to go every year that I can because you always meet people you always learn things there. So definitely check out AFM and I'll put a link to all their information as well in the show notes. And that does it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. I hope you have a scary and safe Halloween today guys. So as always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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Why Wait for Netflix When You Can Launch Your Own VOD Website?

As a filmmaker, you want to get your films in front of viewers. The obvious choice is to have them broadcast by a streaming service . . . but figuring out how to do that isn’t so obvious.

Should you try to get your film picked up by Netflix? Or Amazon Prime? One of the smaller, more specialist streaming services? Or should you wait for one of the forthcoming streaming services, like Disney’s forthcoming option?

The entire film industry is headed toward streaming options, and that includes independent filmmakers.

If you can get your film picked up by a streaming service (which is absolutely possible), it could be put in front of tens of thousands of viewers. It could be your ticket to fame.

But you may want to reconsider that strategy.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Streaming Services to Buy Your Films

Many indie filmmakers dream of having their films shown on Netflix. And it’s an admirable goal. But is it a viable one?

Many people will tell you that it is. That with good enough films and a lot of perseverance, you can have your films bought by Netflix or another major streaming service.

But it’s good to have reasonable expectations. There are a lot of independent films out there, and only so many of them are going to make it to Netflix. There are a lot of factors—not just the quality of the film, but how you go about marketing yourself, who you know, and just plain luck.

If you want to make a career—or even a side hustle—out of your filmmaking, waiting for Netflix to bestow their blessing on your film might not be the best way to go. You could be stuck waiting for replies. You don’t get to control how much money you make. Netflix will be competing against you with their own indies.

And in the end, someone else has control over the distribution of your films. Which runs counter to the indie spirit.

What if I told you there was another way? A way that let you control distribution and pricing, and didn’t involve waiting on other people?

There is indeed a way, and it might be just what you’re looking for when it comes to distribution, marketing, and sales.

Start Your Own  Netflix-style Website

Video-on-demand (VOD)is a way for people to get videos. Netflix is an example of subscription VOD (SVOD). iTunes is transactional VOD. There are all sorts of models for running a VOD service.

And you can start your own. You don’t need to wait for anyone to buy the distribution rights for your film

This means you get your films out there fast. You’ve created an artistic masterpiece, and you want the world to see it. Why wait around for someone else to start sharing your film? No one likes to wait. And with your own VOD service, you don’t have to.

Controlling the distribution and promotion has other benefits, too. You could partner with other filmmakers. Sell other types of content on your site. Release your own app for streaming your videos on phones, tablets, and smart TVs.

You can also use promotional tools like marketing emails and social media to directly promote your videos, instead of relying on another streaming service to do so for you. When Netflix has multimillion-dollar blockbusters in its catalog, you can’t expect them to do much promotion for your indie film.

And it’s in Netflix’s best interest to not give you the best deal. They need to make money, too. Having another company between you and your viewers will decrease your profits. It’s already hard to make money filmmaking; why would you add another hurdle? When you control your pricing and profits, you can make the best decisions for both you and your viewers.

(Some VOD channels pull in over $10,000 per month. Wouldn’t that be nice?)

Finally, your own VOD service will help you build a brand. That might not be a huge concern of yours right now, but it’s something you should keep in mind. Creating a personal and professional brand helps you get loyal customers and increase your visibility. Offering a VOD service that highlights your films can only help in that brand creation.

You can even build a community around your films with user profiles, comments, and other interactive features.

Convinced yet?

How to Create Your Own Streaming Service

You might be surprised to find out that creating your own VOD website is easy and doesn’t require any technical skill. There are plenty of providers that allow you to create this kind of site, even if you’ve never built a website before.

Providers like Uscreen let you build a site from their gallery of templates with just a few clicks.

You don’t have to worry about the development or getting your site uploaded to a server. Just customize your design, upload your videos, and create your pricing structure.

Of course, creating your pricing structure is going to take some thought. You can use a subscription model like Netflix, but you’ll need a lot of content for that to work. You can also rent or sell your videos from your site, which might work better for indie filmmakers.

But you get complete control over your pricing, giving you the power to make the money you deserve.

Once your site is up, all you need to do is update it with new films and videos on a regular basis. The more you have on your site, the more likely people will be to stop by to watch.

And, of course, you’ll need to promote your site, too. Platforms that include social media or email marketing tools will be a big help in this endeavor. There are all sorts of ways to promote your content across the internet, and having your own website from which to base your efforts will let you send everyone to the same place, where they’ll see your branding and all of your films.

Getting started is super easy. Just choose a platform, sign up, and get to work. You’ll need to choose a domain name if you don’t have one already, and you may want to think about an eye-catching logo, but if you have videos to upload, you’re already halfway done.

If you’re thinking that this process sounds expensive, don’t worry; there are plenty of affordable options. While some platforms require that you agree to revenue-sharing agreements, Uscreen simply requires a flat fee.

When you’re comparing VOD solutions, make sure to check out the fees, and even a small difference can add up to a lot of money over months of service.


When you first hear about it, the idea of starting your own streaming service might sound far-fetched. But the advantages are too numerous to ignore: you can start distributing your films immediately, with full control over both distribution and promotion. You get to set your own prices. You get a powerful brand-building tool.

And because building a VOD site is actually quite simple, it won’t take you a long time or a lot of money to get it set up. Just choose a template, customize the design, upload your films, and set your prices.

If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can also take advantage of things like branded apps, built-in marketing tools, and expanded content options.

You may have dreamt of getting your independent films on Netflix. But there’s another option—and it’s better in almost every way.