Posts Tagged ‘dvd’

“There Was A Young Man With No Head…”

May 18, 2010

Hello Family, Friends, Colleagues and Fans,

BIG News today! Our second film, “BURNING INSIDE” (which just had a hugely successful World Premiere at the Connecticut Film Fest), is NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD and Digital Download through our distributor at Channel Midnight http://bit.ly/BI-CM .

It is now time for us to mobilize our army and find an audience for this film. We hope you’ll help us in that effort.

There are a number of ways to help:

1) Forward this as an e-mail to EVERYONE on your e-mail list. Sure BURNING INSIDE was described as “a raw and grinding midnight movie” (Deadline Magazine) and “A challenging and altogether harrowing experience” (Shock Cinema) but you never know who might appreciate that kind of thing, or forward it on to their friends too. (It was also “highly recommended for lovers of smart films.” (fearzone.com)

2) MAKE MONEY! Become a Channel Midnight / BURNING INSIDE affiliate and earn 10% (almost $2 per DVD!) of every sale made with your personal link! Go here for details: http://bit.ly/CM-Affiliate . If you have a moderately trafficked website, blog, facebook, or twitter this option could be pretty darn lucrative. (make sure to put your affiliate link in this e-mail before you forward it on). (If you need assistance setting up the affiliate program, please e-mail me. I’ll be happy to help.)

3) Quick Copy and Paste for Twitter and Facebook (feel free to replace the link with your affiliate link, or customize however you want):

Check out my friend @nathanwrann new movie BURNING INSIDE now available on DVD and Download http://bit.ly/BI-CM

4) Join our Facebook, and twitter pages and repost, retweet, share, “like” and spread the word through social networking: www.facebook.com/burninginsidemovie www.twitter.com/nathanwrann www.twitter.com/channelmidnight http://www.facebook.com/pages/Channel-Midnight-Releasing/101936676513987?ref=ts

5) Go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003MHMU88 and write a review! (It’s amazing how important reviews on Amazon are.)

In short, it’s all about the numbers, the more people that know about it, the more successful it will be.

If you are a member of the PRESS please contact me at nw [at] daltongang-productions.com for press releases, press kits and copies for review.

THANKS EVERYONE!

We truly appreciate and rely on your support to help get the word out about this film.

Nathan Wrann & Kimberly Dalton

Dalton Gang Productions

p.s. We’re still fighting for that Audience Favorite award from the CT Film Fest (we prefer to call it the Best Audience Award). So please go to http://www.ctfilmfest.com/site/node/280 and vote 5 stars for us.

What the critics have to say about BURNING INSIDE:

“impressive…writer-director Nathan Wrann unleashes an unsettling psychological mystery, imbues his story with a unique look and pace and works wonders… a challenging and altogether harrowing experience for discerning horror fans.”

– Steven Puchalski, SHOCK CINEMA

“BURNING INSIDE is a raw and grinding midnight movie, unsavory grim in parts then slowly contemplative.”

– Marcus Stiglegger, DEADLINE MAGAZINE

“There is an awareness of filmmaking as a storytelling medium at work here that you will not find in a multiplex… A wholly original and daring piece of cinema. It’s rare that acting, cinematography and editing work in such perfect harmony to create something this unique… Highly recommended to lovers of smart films.”

– Greg Lamberson, FEAR ZONE

Available now, the BURNING INSIDE DVD includes:

• 120-minute feature film

• 12-part featurette containing more than one hour of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews

• Collection of trailers for BURNING INSIDE and other exciting upcoming releases.

The DVD is now available for purchase at Amazon.com or directly from the Channel Midnight shop or for rent at YouTube. More streaming and Video-on-Demand options are on their way.

For more information, visit channelmidnight.com

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Reciprocating

January 22, 2010

I was looking at my stats the other day and noticed that people were finding their way to my blog from a site that I go to often for ideas and information but was unaware that was linking to me.

The site is http://newbreed.workbookproject.com/ and is, essentially, a collection of independent filmmakers blogging about their experiences, ideas and plans for making their way through the independent film world from development, through production, festivals and finally (mostly DIY) distribution. The blogs really cover a wide range of topics that affect independent filmmakers from how to act at and what to expect from film festivals to how to make and sell merchandise for your film. The specific blog that linked back here is one filmmaker’s (Ben Hick’s) blog about “The Idea That Could Revolutionize Independent Film“.

You may initially think that only independent filmmakers will find the site interesting but I assure you that film fans will find a great deal of usable insight as well. It’s no secret that independent films are quickly disappearing from the normal chains of distribution. Distributors aren’t picking them up, theaters aren’t screening them, stores aren’t carrying the DVDs. But this is where film fans can learn how to find independent, self distributed films. Read these blogs and look at them in reverse. You’ll be able to see what filmmakers are doing to get their films out there (whether it’s Todd Sklar’s traveling road show of touring movies or T-shirt distribution to independent stores) and ultimately learn where to look for them. So when you see an ad pop up in your Arts/Alternative Weekly newspaper for an indie film playing for 1 or 2 nights you’ll know where they’re coming from and how desperately they need you to go to their screening.

There’s that old movie cliche where the super-sleuth needs to “think like a thief” to catch the thief, well independent film fans are going to need to start thinking like independent, DIY filmmaker/distributors in order to catch an indie film and The New Breed is a great place to start.

(Another great resource is Ted Hope’s Truly Free Film blog.)

Interactive Menus? Really?

January 13, 2010

Does anyone really care about interactive menus on a DVD or Blu-Ray? You know the menu page that has a little animation at the beginning before the “Play” “Set up” “Chapters” “Special Features” buttons come up. Sometimes the DVD even has this as “Feature” on the back of the box. If someone released two different DVDs of the same movie, one with interactive, animated menus and one without would the special menu one really sell better? Is that a selling point?

I ask this today because I was holding off from eating my Buffalo Wings (from Buffalo Wild Wings. 60 cent wings on Wednesday, can’t beat it) while I was waiting for the animated menu on the (500) Days of Summer Blu-Ray to start and it was pretty damn annoying. I would have been happy to just put the disc in and press play. I wonder if someday I’ll see a movie and say: “Wow! That movie SUCKED but the animated menus were AWESOME!!” Just wondering is all.

(BTW “(500) Days of Summer” was a pretty good movie that turned into a really good movie by the end. Recommended for fans of “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”)

IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 6

January 7, 2010

Background: My first film, “Hunting Season was released nationwide on August 1st, 2009 via Cable and Dish 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, www.IndieFlix.com or www.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 (equivalent to the average that I will receive per VOD purchase).

Please see the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 4 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 5 to catch up.

I’ve pretty much completely written off CreateSpace as an option at this point. It has NOTHING to do with their service. The fact is that, at this point, IndieFlix is offering me everything that CreateSpace is offering, and more.

WOW! It has been a LONG time since I updated this blog. I would LOVE to say that a lot has happened in the meantime but… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, an apology: I apologize for leaving everyone hanging for so long. My intentions were to continue to follow-up and post updates whenever there were new developments in the IndieFlix distribution of “Hunting Season” and you will soon read why there haven’t been any updates in awhile (aside from the fact that I’ve been extremely busy co-writing a novel, writing a new screenplay, and working on distribution of Burning Inside (which will be coming out in the spring via James Felix McKenney’s (MonsterPants) new “Channel Midnight” distribution banner)).

This story continues where the previous chapter left off, My contact at IndieFlix, Mike Williams, sent me an e-mail on September 10th with the following information:

Dear Nathan,

This is just a quick notice that your film “Hunting Season” will be released for sale at IndieFlix next Tuesday, September 15th.  A few of points of preparation:

§         I need to pass along to our Marketing department the answer to one key question for their release promotions— “Why does someone need to watch this film?”  In one or two conversational sentences please let me know the answer and I’ll pass it along to them.

§         If you haven’t already, please be sure to add as much information about your work as you have into your ‘Manage Film’ page online (***).

§         If you have a specific preview scene clip (about 1 minute) that you’d like customers be able to watch and haven’t inputted the time code to your Manage Film page yet, please email that time code or give a scene description to me and I’ll pass it along to Production.

Finally, please feel free to let me know soon if you’d prefer that date be postponed (i.e. the date doesn’t fit for your marketing push, if you have custom DVD artwork that you need yet to send, etc.) and we’ll be happy to do that.

That’s great right!!!??? The only problem was that I got this e-mail on the 10th and the movie was being released on the 15th, how am I supposed to get Press releases out for web sites to put this in their “Coming Soon on DVD” sections?? It wasn’t going to work out for marketing purposes, plus there was no mention of an Amazon.com release date.

I responded to Mike the same day at around 8pm Eastern Time (IndieFlix is in California) with the following:

Mike,

This is great news but I do have a few questions:

1) We have previously discussed making Hunting Season available on Amazon.com. Will it be available on September 15th?

2) When do I set a price for the film?

3) I have submitted custom artwork, did you receive it?

4) Do I get a “proof” copy to approve?

Mike got back to me at 3:30pm the following day:

Amazon takes somewhat longer to get the films released so it’ll take a couple more weeks there, I believe.  We can ask them to set up a pre-sale page if you’d like, however.  That wouldn’t take long at all or we can hold the IndieFlix.com release for a coordinated release.  Just let me know what your preference is.

You can set/change your pricing at anytime just let me know what you want and we’ll make the adjustment.  The DVD default minimum for feature length titles is $9.95.

Production has your artwork and it’s all set

Since IndieFlix is primarily a consignment distributor all copies must be purchased but the good news is that you’ll receive 70% net back as a kind of rebate in the form of your quarterly royalties.  Later this year we plan to implement a wholesale purchase option so you can get the discount upfront.

As always, please don’t hesitate to let me know should you have any further questions/concerns.

Totally acceptable answers within an acceptable time frame, my man Mike Williams has always been good.

I replied:

Excellent!

I would like to do a coordinated release with Amazon. I’ll set a higher price point for the Amazon sales but I’m sure I can get more coverage in the genre websites for a DVD release if the DVD is available in multiple places. I just need to know when that release date will be so that I can get press releases out on time.

Thanks for all your help on this. It’s been a real pleasure working with IndieFlix.

And he countered:

Nathan,

Okay great, I’ll let Production on this end know to hold it and will let you know as soon as I learn the date Amazon will have.

So at this point we were all set and had a little bigger window to be able to get the word out, once we knew what that date would be.

13 Days later (on 09/24/09) I received the following from Mike:

Dear Nathan,

This is just a quick notice that your film “Hunting Season” will be released for sale at IndieFlix next Tuesday, September 29th in conjunction with the Amazon.com release.  A few of points of preparation:

§         Our Marketing department needs you to finish the following sentence:

Someone needs to watch this film because …”

§         Using brief casual wording (something like a Twitter post), please let me know how you finish the sentence and I’ll pass it along to them.

§         If you haven’t already, please be sure to add as much information about your work as you have into your ‘Manage Film’ page online (***).

Finally, please feel free to let me know soon if you’d prefer that date be postponed (i.e. the date doesn’t fit for your marketing push, if you have custom DVD artwork that you need yet to send, etc.) and we’ll be happy to do that.

Hmmm. This e-mail seems a little familiar. (but, hey, I’m not too concerned that they use a form letter to let producers know the release dates. They’re probably pretty damn busy). The only problem is that the letter was, once again, sent FIVE days before the DVD was coming out! This leaves ZERO time to do any marketing. But what the hell, let’s just get it out there.

I sent out press releases to every magazine and web page that was remotely associated with indie film, horror or movies in general (and we got at least one good mention: shocktilyoudrop) with the big news.

And then the BIG DAY arrived: Hunting Season was released for sale at IndieFlix.com and Amazon.com on September 29th, 2009!!

I got an e-mail from Mike on the special day reminding me:

Your film, “Hunting Season,” is now up for sale at IndieFlix (http://www.indieflix.com/Films/HuntingSeason1).  Unfortunately, due to a delay in the roll-out of our new VOD platform, the 30-Day Streaming Rental option isn’t yet available.  We expect it to be up by this weekend or early next week.  If you’re working with IndieFlix for VOD Only your Film Detail page is up so that customers will be able to see the Preview and once our developers are ready we’ll turn on that option.

Also, “Hunting Season” is now available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Season-Nathan-Wrann/dp/B002Q0WKCS/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1254249251&sr=1-10.

Our most successful films are those for which the filmmaker is out spreading the word about their work so please be sure to talk about it, send emails, blog, hold screenings, and do all you can to let people know that your work is available.  You can also update information about your film and track your sales in real-time, anytime online via your Filmmaker Account (**).

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the film.

(NOTE: The VOD platform rollout didn’t affect me because I was not distributing Hunting Season digitally)

(NOTE: Since the very beginning of this process IndieFlix had been mentioning a NEW PLATFORM that they were developing for their site)

Nevertheless…

It was a very exciting day. I tweeted and facebooked and myspaced and e-mailed my ass off telling everyone I knew that the movie was now available for sale on DVD at Amazon (and IndieFlix)! I asked all of those people to tell everyone that they knew. E-mails were forwarded and champaigne was popped. So now all I had to do was watch the Hunting Season “Sales Ranking” at Amazon.com tick downward from its starting point (84,399).

It was a long wait, so to make the time go by and continue my research comparison between IndieFlix and CreateSpace I bought myself 1 DVD from each of the two vendors (NOTE: I believe that the DVDs sold on Amazon are made by the same manufacturers that makes the DVDs for CreateSpace. If they aren’t please let me know.)

Product Comparison:

The DVDs from Amazon and IndieFlix played identically and at the same quality of the master that I sent in. The “special features” (Trailers etc) and menus that I put on the master also found their way onto the Amazon and IndieFlix discs

The differences between the two are apparent in the packaging:

The Amazon DVD package and full color disc printing are mint. The graphics, images and text are all the same high quality that I would expect from a store bought studio DVD. The paper is a high quality heavyweight gloss stock.

The IndieFlix DVD packaging and full color disc printing are of slightly lower quality with and a little off-color with some visible digitization. This is primarily visible in the yellow text of the title, which seems a little greyish and textured. Also the paper is lightweight and clearly perforated around the edges.  Chances are it was printed with a high-end inkjet printer.

Customer Service Comparison:

I ordered the Amazon.com DVD on September 29th with their in-depth order summary, and the auto-confirmation e-mail they sent me on the day that I ordered I can confirm when I placed the order and what credit card I used. Amazon tells me that the order shipped on October 4th and I received it on October 7th.

Unfortunately purchase tracking isn’t as comprehensive with IndieFlix, in fact I am currently unable to find any purchase history when I login to my account and the link at the bottom of the confirmation e-mail sends me to a “page not found”. I did save a PDF of the order confirmation which tells me that I placed the order on October 4th. I do remember it took a considerably longer period of time to receive the order from IndieFlix than it took to receive the order from Amazon.

A few positive things that should be noted:

Amazon.com put a “pre-sale” page up for Hunting Season

On September 30th Amazon.com sent an e-mail to a filmmaker that I know with the following: “Dear Amazon.com Customer,As someone who has purchased or rated “Spoils”, you might like to know that Hunting Season is now available. You can order yours for just $9.95 by following the link below.” Which is great from a marketing standpoint!

IndieFlix included Hunting Season on their “IndieFlix NewFlix Tuesday” mailing that goes out to all of their mailing list subscribers

IndieFlix featured Hunting Season on their main page as a new release for at least a week after its release date.

A few negative things that should be noted:

IndieFlix had serious platform issues leading up to and following the launch of their new site. Hunting Season was originally available on DVD at the OLD site, I had entered a description, bio and all of the other necessary info. When the new site went live all of the info that I entered disappeared. Also Hunting Season was available on DVD and WAS available as a digital download! This was a major problem because of my VOD contract. I contacted Mike Williams and he got the tech team on it right away. Apparently this wasn’t an isolated incident and affected other films across the site. However when the tech team did their fix they removed the DVD and left the download. Another e-mail to Mike got the issue elevated and fixed 3 days later.

Other issues with the site upgrade: The sales tracking feature was missing. To this day, sales prior to October 12th (the day of the upgrade) are not available to filmmakers.

No sales tracking for DVDs sold through Amazon. I can get the number from Mike whenever I need it though.


Now is the moment of truth.

The primary reason for starting this blog report was because it is nearly impossible to find out what kind of sales other films, similar to mine were having by self-distributing through Amazon.com. There’s probably a reason for that.

I previously mentioned that “Hunting Season” debuted on Amazon with a sales ranking at 84,399. This means that there were 84,000 other DVD products that were selling better than “Hunting Season”. By the 8pm Eastern time the sales ranking had jumped (or would it be dropped?) to 24,590. I must have sold A TON OF DISCS to jump ahead of 60,000 other products! The next morning I woke up to find that the ranking had moved to 17,484! The ranking stabilized and a few days later was at 15,899 on 10/02. After that the ranking steadily climbed until it ended right around where it currently rests: 114,830 (I think we may have actually been as high as around 150,000).

After watching Hunting Season’s sales ranking jump ahead of almost 70,000 other products I was itching to know what our sales report actually was so I contacted Mike Williams to get a report from him:

On October 21st Hunting Season had been on sale for 3 weeks and sold:

A GRAND TOTAL OF 9 DVDs on AMAZON

and

A GRAND TOTAL OF 1 DVD on INDIEFLIX

wow. really? yes.

Let’s not forget that I ordered 1 DVD from each of the vendors which means that in reality I sold 8 DVDs on Amazon and 0 DVDs on IndieFlix. And I bet that at least half of those 8 DVDs were sold to family members or friends that were excited to support me.

So that’s it.

What can we glean from this?

We can determine that selling 1 DVD will move you thousands of places up the sales ranking at Amazon.com.

We can determine that Amazon.com is DEFINITELY not a Field of Dreams (Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come). It still takes, at the very least, a marketing and advertising presence. Strong press presence (reviews, write ups, interviews etc). A pre-existing fan base probably helps too.

I think the bottom line is that for what I used IndieFlix/Amazon for it was not beneficial, but it wasn’t bad. I got a 2 year old movie out there, available for DVD, that is still making the rounds on VOD. It would have never been available otherwise. My VOD contract prohibited me from taking advantage of IndieFlix’s digital download distribution network (which is probably, truly the strength of their business model). The fact that I made Hunting Season for about $5,000 in 2006 and have already recouped that just from sales at conventions made it possible for me to do this experiment. I twittered, facebooked, myspaced, message boarded, networked and newslettered non-stop. I got a few on-line write-ups. If I had put HS up on Amazon when it was first made/released and had the Fangoria, twitch, dread central write ups (it’s a horror movie so targeting the genre isn’t hard) I may have sold more, but truthfully, I doubt it.

Am I “down” on Self-distribution, IndieFlix or Createspace (Amazon)? Hell no! I always say, if I’m gonna bet, I’m gonna bet on myself. These companies do a great service to filmmakers with a lack of resources and given a similar situation in the future I would use IndieFlix again. they are a young company and will continue to improve. This is only one aspect of Self-distribution, if you’re considering making it the only aspect it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

So now I turn it over to the readers of this blog:

Tell me your self-distribution stories.

Tell me your self-distribution successes and failures.

Tell me what to do to do it better next time.

Tell me your experiences dealing with any and all distribution, aggregators, or self-distribution services. There are a ton out there and I’m not finding a lot of success stories (and nobody is willing to discuss their shortcomings)

Tell me how self distribution will work without marketing and advertising.

Ask me what I think about the most recent self distribution fantasy that you heard.

The only way we can be successful is if we get these experiences out in the open and share them so that others may learn and improve upon them.

This concludes my IndieFlix vs CreateSpace blog report.

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).

Indieflix vs CreateSpace Update 5

August 27, 2009

Background: My first film, “Hunting Season was released nationwide on August 1st, 2009 via Cable and Dish 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, www.IndieFlix.com or www.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 (equivalent to the average that I will receive per VOD purchase).

Please see the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 4 to catch up.

I’ve pretty much completely written off CreateSpace as an option at this point. It has NOTHING to do with their service. The fact is that, at this point, IndieFlix is offering me everything that CreateSpace is offering, and more.

Last week I received an e-mail from Mike Williams stating the following:

Your submission of “Hunting Season” has been received and screened.

A couple of quick notes before we can slate the release date:

  • Due to a large number of submissions IndieFlix has moved to accept primarily film festival selected work so if you could, please email me a list of where the film has screened as soon as you can.
  • Also, if your film uses any non-original licensed music we’ll need a music cue sheet.

I sent the requested information yesterday and received GOOD NEWS today:

Thanks Nathan,

I’ll email you the week prior to the film’s release to confirm the date.  It’s typically about three weeks.

So it looks like Hunting Season will be available on DVD in about a month! Then I’ll be able to report on the completed experience, including the trials and tribulations of attempting to make sales.

A littler further information:

This blog series started out as a comparison between the two services IndieFlix and CreateSpace it quickly became apparent that a comparison wouldn’t be necessary because there was no reason to continue to pursue distribution (and comparison) through CreateSpace since IndieFlix could offer the same service, but better.

One thing that you may have noticed above is that Mike Williams requested information on the festivals (IndieFlix indicates all over their filmmaker submission guidelines that they only accept films that have played a festival. However I did receive an e-mail from Mike Williams stating “Although 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“) that Hunting Season has played at. Hunting Season screened at NewFilmmakers in NYC on Halloween Night in 2007. This must have fulfilled the festival requirement. This is one area where IndieFlix and CreateSpace differ drastically. CreateSpace will take almost ANY dvd (they do have some restrictions: Porn, etc) but IndieFlix has some sort of quality criteria. If Hunting Season had not been accepted by IndieFlix I would have turned to CreateSpace.

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).


IndieFlix vs Createspace Update 4

August 10, 2009

Background: My first film, “Hunting Season was released nationwide on August 1st, 2009 via Cable and Dish 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, www.IndieFlix.com or www.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 (equivalent to the average that I will receive per VOD purchase).

Please see the previous blog post “IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 1″ and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Day 2 and IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3 to catch up.

I’ve pretty much completely written off CreateSpace as an option at this point. It has NOTHING to do with their service. The fact is that, at this point, IndieFlix is offering me everything that CreateSpace is offering, and more.

I received some responses from Mike Williams (the Filmmaker Relations & Acquisitions guru at IndieFlix and my contact):

My Question:

“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?”

Mike Williams’ response:

“Yes, ideal would be for you to submit your DVD with menus and a trailer included on the disc.  However, that’s not a requirement if you don’t have that available.”

Perfect. That’s easy enough. (And I’m going to slip a trailer for my second movie “Burning Inside” on the disc too. See if we can drum up some advanced notice for its future release.)

My next question (this is in regards to distributing the disc through IndieFlix on Amazon.com):

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?

Mike Williams’ response:

Yes, the royalties through any revenue source we offer is 70/30 or the NET (rather than Gross) so prior to our begin paid we have to pay out any costs.  In the case of Amazon DVD (via CreateSpace), we pay out their $4.95 and the remainder is our Net Royalty with 70% going to you.

Holy CRAP! That’s considerably better than CreateSpace’s deal with Amazon (which is that Amazon takes 40% off the top, then minus $4.95 and the filmmaker gets whatever is less).

I just want to clarify
one thing about this. The only COST prior to the IndieFlix NET through
Amazon via CreateSpace is the $4.95. So the 40% that Amazon normally takes
on top of the $4.95 (if I were to go through CreateSpace myself) does not
apply?

For the following scenario: Retail price = $14.99

Amazon Via CreateSpace:  $14.99 – 40% – $4.95 =  $4.04 (to filmmaker)

IndieFlix Amazon via CreateSpace: $14.99 – $4.95  = $10.04 (NET) – 30% =
$7.02 (to filmmaker)

Is that how it works? If so, AWESOME! I’ll have my DVD and agreement in the
mail as soon as I hear back from you.

Mike Williams’ response:

IndieFlix has a different, enterprise, deal negotiated with
Createspace/Amazon than is available for individuals.  I believe $4.95 is
correct but since IndieFlix usually doesn’t use that service unless by
filmmaker request, I’m actually less familiar with those details as I should
be.  I’ve just left a message with our enterprise contact there to make sure
I have the correct numbers.  Unfortunately it sounds like she’s on vacation
through the weekend (as is our CEO and Accounting who’d know the details on
this end) so I’ll probably have to get back to you next week on that point.

In any case, you’re free to select only those revenue sources that work for
you when working with IndieFlix.  I’d love to have you get the submission
underway so that we can screen HUNTING SEASON and once it’s accepted get it
into the release queue for IndieFlix.com.  Subsequent to our accepting it we
can work out what third party outlets work best for you.  And, of course,
you’re not locked-in with us so you’re free to pull the plug at any time.

And then the next day I received this from Mike Williams:

I’ve just gotten word from Createspace that I did actually have the incorrect split on that.  IndieFlix pays $4.95 only for our internal orders from them. For sales on Amazon.com we get a straight 42.5% of the selling price. So, a title for sale on Amazon.com at $12.99 would earn a $5.52 royalty.  Of that $5.52, you’d receive 70% and IndieFlix 30%.

I hope that helps.  As always, please feel free to let me know should any further questions/concerns arise.

Let’s see how that stacks up against selling on Amazon directly through CreateSpace:

For the following Scenario: Retail Price = $14.99

Amazon via CreateSpace: $14.99 – 40% – $4.95 =  $4.04 (to filmmaker)

Amazon via IndieFlix: 42.5% of $14.99 = $6.37 @ 70% = $4.45 (to filmmaker)

That comes up pretty close but the IndieFlix deal is still better. Of course this deal will fluctuate with the retail price of the DVD:

Let’s look at it with a $12.99 Retail Price:

Amazon via CreateSpace:  $12.99 – 40% – $4.95 = $2.84 (to filmmaker)

Amazon via IndieFlix: 42.5% of $12.99 = $5.25 @ 70% = $3.86 (to filmmaker)

Now we’ve got a $1.02 difference. Which is pretty considerable. As the retail price of the DVD goes down (= better for the consumer) the IndieFlix deal is better for the filmmaker. The CreateSpace deal is better for the filmmaker when the retail price is somewhere between $15.99 and $16.99 and up. Requirement #2 above is to keep the retail price as low as possible. In order to do that IndieFlix is the only way to go. In fact at a $8.99 retail price through Amazon via IndieFlix the filmmaker is bringing in $2.67. Amazon via CreateSpace nets only 44 cents.

Plus IndieFlix offers a straight 70/30 split for disks sold through their own site.

SOLD.

My MASTER DVD and Filmmaker’s Agreement will be in the mail tomorrow.

P.S. You may have noticed up there that Mike Williams made this statement:

“…I’d love to have you get the submission underway so that we can screen HUNTING SEASON and once it’s accepted get it into the release queue for IndieFlix.com.  Subsequent to our accepting it we can work out what third party outlets work best for you

I underlined a few key words in there. Those terms are the somewhat “gatekeeper-ish” which can be a bit worrying. There is still the chance that IndieFlix may not deem “Hunting Season” fit for their distribution. At which point the game is over and I move forward with the CreateSpace distribution model. I will be sure to keep you informed.

IndieFlix vs CreateSpace Update 3

July 29, 2009

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).


IndieFlix vs. CreateSpace Day 1

July 22, 2009

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:

  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.

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.

www.IndieFlix.com :

www.createspace.com

Mission Statement:

  • 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.

Requirements:

  • 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.

EDGE: Createspace

Rights:

  • IndieFlix: Non-exclusive.
  • Createspace: Non-exclusive

EDGE: Even

Distribution:

  • 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 😦 .

EDGE: Createspace

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.

GO TO INDIEFLIX VS CREATESPACE DAY 2