Today was day 1 of my side by side comparison of Indieflix.com and Createspace.com.
A little background:
My first film Hunting Season will be available Nationwide on Cable Video on Demand on August 1st. In an effort to capitalize on the added exposure, and get the movie to fans who may not have the cable systems it’s offered on, I decided that it would also be a great time to release it on DVD on-line. Indie film distribution has changed so much in the past year or two that it is now possible for a filmmaker to release professional grade DVDs of their project with no money up front and no distribution contacts. A lot of people say that the “gatekeepers of content” have been removed. That distribution is more democratic. That audiences, not executives, will decide what they want to see. This is where Indieflix.com and Createspace.com come into play.
I have two requirements:
- I will ONLY be selling DVDs on Demand. Both of these sites offer numerous digital download options. None of what I write about here will take that into consideration.
- I want to price the DVDs as low as possible but still make an acceptable amount of revenue per disc.
Both of these sites offer filmmakers the ability to sell DVDs on Demand, they make the DVD when the customer orders it. No big stockpiles, no big money up front, no risk. But there are a few differences:
DISCLAIMER: This is all info that I found at both of these websites. There may be more detail in the fine print. Do your own research before deciding which one to go with.
- IndieFlix: Excerpted from their website: “promises to build a fair and open market to empower filmmakers to be the engine of their achievement…”
- Createspace: Excerpted from their website”With our services, you can make your books, music and video available to millions of customers by selling on Amazon.com and on your own website with a customized eStore”
IndieFlix def appeals more to the emotional, empowerment aspect of filmmakers (very indie) and Createspace appeals more to the business, straightforward aspect (very cut and dried). EDGE: Even.
- IndieFlix: “must have played as an ‘Official Selection’ at a film festival.” (It does state that they do make exceptions). No porn. No instructional video. Artwork (case or DVD) is not required.
- Createspace: No porn. No offensive, illegal, stolen, recopied or copyright infringing material. Otherwise anything is “accepted”. I guess.
On Createspace If I want to sell 90 minutes of TV static, I can. This raises concern as a consumer (no quality assurance, I wonder if there is someone that makes sure that the product being advertised is actually the product on the disc and if they have restrictions on that) and as a filmmaker (there must be TONS of available titles to compete with) but overall the open acceptance policy makes Createspace TRULY Gatekeeper free.
- IndieFlix: Non-exclusive.
- Createspace: Non-exclusive
- IndieFlix: Distributed through IndieFlix.com
- Createspace: Distributed through Amazon.com and “your own” Createspace e-store.
Amazon.com is huge. Obviously. They sell gazillions of DVDs 🙂 to gazillions of customers 🙂 from a selection of gazillions of titles 😦 .
Royalties & Pricing:
- IndieFlix: Royalties: 70-30 split in the filmmaker’s favor (after costs, which at this point is unknown). Pricing: “Set your own price”. Default is $9.95 for features (not sure if this is for downloads or DVDs at this point)
- Createspace: Royalties: Fixed charge = $4.95 then if sold on Amazon.com 40% of the set retail price goes to Amazon, filmmaker gets whatever is left. % changes to 15% if sold through the e-store. Pricing: $9.00 is the min price (at which point the filmmaker will make virtually no revenue) (40% of $9 = $5.40 – $4.95 = .45 to the filmmaker)
up front it looks like a lower price can be offered with more return for the filmmaker through Indieflix.
EDGE: IndieFlix (subject to change when “costs” are found out)
That’s the initial research breakdown.
Today I registered on both sites and filled out all of the start-up forms to get up and running. Createspace’s forms seemed more in-depth requesting UPC data (if you don’t have one they will provide one for use on their site only), Tax ID (or social security) information, copyright information etc.
Both sites requested short synopses, long synopses (or description), director, writer, producer, cast info. All pretty standard stuff.
On Createspace I was able to upload my DVD case and face artwork. On Indieflix I could supply a 3 minute time code range for a promotional clip to be hosted and streamed on their site.
After submitting the information and finalizing all of the forms:
IndieFlix required me to download and print a 9 page “Filmmaker Agreement”, packing slip (deliverables list), and shipping label. The “Filmmaker Agreement” is where the Tax ID and banking information is requested. This is also where all of the legalese is regarding the distribution of a motion picture essentially indemnifying the company against lawsuits if the filmmaker didn’t get their clearances.
I came across a few stumbling blocks at this point. The “Filmmakers Agreement” includes VOD, Digital Download and internet rights. I have no intention of using IndieFlix for those means of distribution at this time. Nowhere during the process of filling out the forms did it give me an option to opt out of these. So I sent an e-mail off to Mike Williams at IndieFlix.com to ask him how I can remove those from the agreement. Another issue that I had with the agreement was the ambiguous nature of the Producer’s Royalty section. Again IndieFlix says that I will get 70% of net revenue generated by the picture. Net Revenue shall mean the proceeds actually received from sales after deduction of any fees, costs, and/or sales tax. Sales Tax? Fine, no problem. But “any” fees and costs? This is exactly where most Filmmakers get screwed by distributors. The distributors say it cost 1 million and 1 dollars to replicate and market the movie and they only made 1 million dollars back. I’m not saying that IndieFlix would do this, but this kind of language is pretty ambiguous for a contract. Especially since the IndieFlix website said that all of the costs would be revealed. In fact, for all of IndieFlix’s “empower” the filmmaker jargon in their mission statement, this agreement reads very much like a traditional, No-Advance Distributor agreement. Except that it is non-exclusive (did I mention that the agreement is for 1 year and if you break it early you owe $100.00?). A per-disc cap on fees and costs ($4.95 maybe?) would seem mighty fine right about now. I might need to send another e-mail off to Mike Williams at IndieFlix.
After finishing the Createspace forms I was moved into the “Proof Review” step. What? I never submitted my Master Footage, how can I “Review a proof”?? This is a step where they send me a “final product” and I sign off on it. The reason that this step is happening now is because they need billing information for the cost of the proof. Currently DVD proofs are free through Createspace so there really isn’t much to do here except click a button that says “continue to proof order”
Let me backtrack a bit. At one point in this process I was asked to enter my Tax ID number. The space that I am supposed to enter the Tax ID number is formatted like this: XX-XXXXXXXX my Tax ID number is formatted like this: XXXXXXXX-XXX. Square Peg, Round Hole. So I sent an e-mail off to Createspace customer service. I don’t want to arbitrarily flip my numbers around and end up with an invalid Tax ID.
After filling out the Proof order information Createspace generates a packing slip with information and tips for ending in the Master DVD.
Where Everything Stands:
Currently both processes are at a standstill awaiting response from “Customer Service” Createspace for the TAX ID issue, IndieFlix over the VOD/Download Filmmaker’s agreement issue.
OVERALL EDGE: Even
*Special Note about IndieFlix “Festival Requirement”: “Hunting Season” didn’t play any festivals but it was screened as part of the NewFilmmaker’s NYC series so maybe that qualifies. I do believe that snagging a national VOD deal counts as a special case so I e-mailed IndieFlix’s contact e-mail found on the site and about 24hours later received an e-mail from Mike Williams, Filmmaker Relations & Acquisitions stating: “film festival selected film are automatically accepted, we certainly welcome all submissions and try to let the audience decide what they want to see rather our filtering some out.” So that shouldn’t be a problem.
If you are a representative of either CreateSpace or IndieFlix and have stumbled across this blog I openly welcome your input (especially if any of my statements or “facts” need fixing).
I promise Future Blogs on this topic WILL NOT BE THIS LONG but there was a lot of ground to cover.