IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3

Background: My first film Hunting Season is being released nationwide on August first via Cable Video on Demand (VOD). In conjunction with the VOD release I wanted to capitalize on the added exposure by offering DVDs for sale on-line. The best way to do this without dropping a minimum of $1,000 up front is to distribute through one of the DVD On-Demand sites, IndieFlix.com or CreateSpace.com (there are others but these seem to be the most popular). Since both sites are non-exclusive I decided to distribute through both of them simultaneously to see which one offers the “better” (in my opinion, for my needs) experience, and document it all here.

I have 2 requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. I want to price the DVDs as low as possible but still make an acceptable amount of revenue per disc.

Please see the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 to catch up.

NOTE: I have changed the title, going forward, to “Update #” instead of “Day #” because this will not be a day by day reporting blog, instead I’ll do updates when I get them.

CreateSpace: When last I left CreateSpace I had received a less-than-satisfactory response from customer service regarding my Tax ID question (see: IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 for the full details). The e-mail that the response came in had two options:

1) f you need more help with this issue, click here:
http://www.createspace.com/Support

or

2) Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
http://www.createspace.com/Special/L/hmd32767-ygttygtpaaisadynwynr-pos.jsp?ref=

If not, click here:
http://www.createspace.com/Special/L/hmd3276-ygttygtpaaisadynwynr-neg.jsp

(NOTE: I slightly altered these links because clicking on them opens the form up with personal information)

I decided that rather than go back to the “Support” page and resubmit the same question through the same form that I would respond to the “Please let us know if this e-mail  resolved your question” by clicking “NOT”

Clicking that link brings me to a “We Value Your Feedback” form. I entered my case number, clicked “No” for the “Was your experience positive?” question and then I shared my experience in the free text box with the following:

TAX ID numbers for my state do not fit the format on the online forms that are filled out as part of the process. your forms request a number like this xx-xxxxxxxx  my Tax ID is like this xxxxxxxx-xxx. How should I submit my tax ID. I asked this question and the answer that I received was that I should use my Social Security number. I don’t want to use my social security number, I want to use the Tax ID number that I file taxes with every quarter. Instead of helping me with the issue the support center gave me an unnecessary work around.

Less than 24 hours I received the following e-mail from donotreply@createspace.com :

Hello Nathan,

My name is Genevieve and I am a CreateSpace Support Lead. I would like to apologize for the response you previously received regarding your Tax ID inquiry.

In order to complete this setup you will need to enter a valid 9 digit Federal Tax ID number, SSN number or EIN number.

Again, I apologize that this information was not presented in our previous response and for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.

If you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us here:
http://www.createspace.com/Support

When contacting us, please be sure to reference your Case Number: 00512286

Best Regards,

Genevieve
CreateSpace Support Lead

Genevieve seems like a REALLY nice person but she didn’t answer my question any better than the previous response. In fact it seems that she didn’t even read my previous question, response or follow-up clarification.

For some reason I’m beginning to get the feeling that ALL Customer Service issues with CreateSpace will be this inadequate. Not good.

At this point I’ve finally decided to say “screw it” and just use my social security number for submitting to CreateSpace.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

IndieFlix:

When last we left IndiFlix, Mike Williams the Filmmaker Relations and Acquisitions guy sent me a great, in-depth, specific e-mail answering my questions about their service and the Filmmakers Agreement (see IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 for full details).

At this point I was ready to send IndieFlix my master copy and continue the ball rolling.

But there was something scratching at the back of my head or maybe a tapping and rapping at my window. A little bird, or maybe it was a raven, mentioned something to me about IndieFlix being able to distribute DVDs through Amazon.com (see the comments left at “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ for full details). If this was true then that carrot that CreateSpace dangles in front of my face wouldn’t matter. So before finalizing the agreement and sending my source copy to IndieFlix I had another question for Mike Williams.

I sent the following e-mail (as a “reply” to Mike’s e-mail in order to keep the “personal-communication-train” going) on July 24th:

Mike,

Thanks for the great response! This information is very helpful. I do have a question though, do you offer DVD sales through Amazon? I didn’t see it mentioned on your pricing sheet, only Amazon VOD?

I received the following response from Mike Williams on July 27th:

Yes, we can distribute DVDs of your film through Amazon if you like.  We go through Amazon’s Createspace for that, however, so don’t offer it standard unless a filmmaker requests it.  For AmazonVOD we go straight to Amazon.  Let me know if you’d like to have IndieFlix set up DVD through Amazon and we’re happy to do so.

WOW. IndieFlix might be ripping the carrot right out of CreateSpace’s hand!!! But This raised more questions so I replied on July 27th:

How do the royalties work when IndieFlix goes through CreateSpace? In the research I’ve done the rates are different? Does the 70/30 IndieFlix split happen after the Amazon 60/40 – $4.95 split?

I really appreciate you taking the time to explain. Thank you

If I receive the correct answer this comparison is over….

I haven’t received a response yet but I used the time to read through the Filmmakers Agreement again and create my Master Copy to send in.

I’m going to be sending a DVD-R burned through iDVD. Wait, can I send a DVD-R? Should I burn it with a menu page? Or just put the files on it? What about Trailers or extras? I realized at this point that I wasn’t sure what formats IndieFlix accepts for a Master Copy.

Time for a little research.

First I checked the Filmmaker’s Agreement. Usually the “deliverables” section will explicitly state what the producer needs to send to the distributor in order to get their film out there. No such luck. In this case the “Delivery” section only states: “

Producer shall deliver to IndieFlix a signed original of this Agreement along with a copy of the Picture on

medium acceptable to IndieFlix (“Delivery”),

The problem is that it doesn’t explain what medium is acceptable to IndieFlix.

I was pretty sure I had seen the info somewhere though so I looked around on the indieflix.com site and found the following in the “How it Works” section:

We accept DVD (Single layer, 4.7GB max disc), MiniDV, DVCam, & BetaSP. DVD will get you listed on the site sooner in most cases.”

Cool. Some info. But it doesn’t really go into detail enough for my tastes.

***Let me pause here real quick just to say that I am being genuine with my ignorance regarding these questions. I’m not being nitpicky, or playing devil’s advocate or trying to create issues. These are true, valid questions that I have had while going through this process***

Problems I have with the info above: Will they only accept a real (replicated) DVD or will they accept a DVD-R. How should the movie be formatted on the disc? Should there be a menu? Should the movie start up immediately with no menu? Can “extras” (trailer? NOTE: the package content slip portion of the Filmmaker’s Agreement indicates that a Master and a Trailer be submitted. But doesn’t specify whether it should/could be on the same disc.) be on the disc as well or should it ONLY be the movie?

In doing my research for CreateSpace I discovered that there have been issues in the past with the content submissions and there are threads devoted to the topic on the CreateSpace forum. CreateSpace also happens to state that “DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R or DVD+RW either general or authoring are fine” right in the documentation/checklist that is printed after registering with them.

Since I couldn’t find a definitive answer for how my DVD should be submitted I sent Mike Williams the following e-mail:

I’m sorry to keep bothering you but I have one more question before I send my master DVD in. What is the best way to make the Master? I burn with iDVD. Should I put a menu page? Should the Trailer be on the same DVD? or should I save it as a Disk Image or just save it as a Video_TS folder?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

I have not had a response yet.

And that’s where we end today.

IndieFlix is definitely pulling ahead and with a game changer (like them distributing through amazon.com with a better royalties agreement) they could close this out before I even get the movie listed on their site!

We’ll see how it all plays out and I’ll update this blog every step of the way.

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).


Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3”

  1. kev Says:

    Thank you so much for these detailed postings. I am also a filmmaker who is weighing our self-distribution options, and indieflix is one of the services we are considering. I wonder, did you also do any research on other similar companies such as IndiePix or B-Side? I’d be interested in knowing if they were considered but didn’t make the “final two.”

    Again, thanks for the updates and good luck with your release. I have the feeling that these entries will become the go-to sites for many people like myself looking for distribution options. If that’s the case, Createspace may have a problem.

    • nwrann Says:

      Kev,

      Thanks for your interest in these blogs. For a while I’ve been looking into the various DVD “self-distribution” models and companies out there (I had Hunting Season on Filmbaby (http://www.filmbaby.com/films/1711) for about 2 years now and I’m almost sold out of the 30 discs that we sent in, but that might be a subject for another blog). After reading your comment I went back and took another look at IndiePix and B-Side to refresh my memory of why they weren’t included.

      IndiePix looks like a fine company but their catalog is “highly curated” and they only accept about 20% of the films submitted. Which tells me that they are a fairly traditional “Gatekeeper” distribution company (if anyone knows or has experienced differently let me know) and for purposes of this blog (and because of my previously existing VOD deal for HS) I wanted to compare the two most open “Self distribution” services.

      B-Side, quite honestly I have never been able to figure out exactly what this company does or how I can put their services to work for me. They seem to be involved with festivals somehow (are the like withoutabox.com?) and they seem to make websites for movies and it looks like they distributed 4 or 5?? Maybe? I really cannot figure out what this company does and I have spent a lot of time at their website. Whatever it is they do it doesn’t seem to fit into the same type of self-distribution model that CreateSpace and/or IndieFlix currently has.

      I should be posting another blog in this series today or tomorrow and as a little foreshadowing, if you think CreateSpace has a problem now, it may be getting worse for them.

      -N

  2. Chris Holland Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    If you have detailed questions about B-Side and what we do, please shoot me an email. I’m happy to let you know how we work with festivals and what our distribution plans look like now.

    – Chris

  3. Francine Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Thank you for all your in depth information about Indie Flix. My feature recently screened at a festival and I was approached shortly thereafter to put my film on Indie Flix. Since I have been unhappy with the other distribution options, I am considering the self distribution route. However, my main concern is being able to track sales to make sure that the filmmaker is properly compensated. Have you had any issue with this? Thanks again for posting this.

    -Francine

    • nwrann Says:

      Francine,

      First: CONGRATULATIONS on your feature being accepted and screened at a festival(s)!!

      Second: To directly answer your question: When someone else controls the stock and sales of your product you will NEVER truly be able to track sales and/or make sure you are compensated. Short of having 100 people you know buy a copy and wait for the sales report to come in to see if there are 100 sales on there. With that being said, IndieFlix USED to have the option to see (and be e-mailed) whenever a sale was made through IndieFlix at the filmmaker dashboard. Recently IndieFlix “upgraded” their site (and service) and are working through a lot of bugs. One of them happens to be the disappearance of the Sales Tracking feature. I’m sure it’s just a bug and it will be attended to shortly but it’s still annoying. So far the bugs that I’ve found and reported to IndieFlix have all been fixed pretty quickly.

      I suppose that for legal, accounting, tax reasons IndieFlix would need to report all of the sales as well as the revenue paid out to filmmakers so I wouldn’t be too concerned with them cooking the books. In my experience and research distributors usually screw the filmmaker in the “recoupable costs” section of the agreement (No cap or limit on recoupable cost? Really?) and since there are no recoupable costs for IndieFlix to take up front the only way for them to screw the filmmaker would be to divert income to other films/filmmakers/laundromats. Which would probably be a whole lot of work for very little reward.

      That’s my take on it anyway.

      I’m always curious to hear what other distribution options that independent filmmakers are looking at, researching or considering so I’d love to hear from you regarding what you’ve already attempted or what you’re looking into. Feel free to e-mail me. You can find my e-mail at the bottom of the main page at http://www.daltongang-productions.com

  4. nwrann Says:

    By the way, I’ll have another follow up piece on IndieFlix and CreateSpace soon. Hunting Season came out on September 29th and I’m just trying to take in the whole experience before I lay it out.

  5. IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 6 « A Block Too Far Says:

    […] the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3, IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 4 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 5 to catch […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: