Posts Tagged ‘independent’

Top 10 Reasons…To Self-Publish

June 23, 2011

First some housekeeping before I get into the meat of this blog:
**I recently started a tumblog for those times that I want to put a quick link, pic or vid out there. So make sure to follow me there. This wordpress blog will still be for my long-winded diatribes.
**There’s a Dark Matter Heart Facebook page now too.
**Dark Matter Heart is now available at iTunes for iPads etc: http://bit.ly/DMHitunes

Now, about that title up there. I had to shorten it. The full title of this blog is:

“Top 10 Reasons That I Decided To Self-Publish.”

Almost immediately after announcing Dalton Gang Press and DARK MATTER HEART the same question kept being asked of me: “Why did you decide to self-publish?” So I’ll use this forum to answer that question. Here are my top reasons why:

10) I’m lazy. I didn’t want to spend the amount of time and effort it would take to try to get an agent or publisher to like my work enough to work for me. The thought of formatting an e-book, designing a print book, designing a cover, and spending countless hours getting the word out to potential readers that the book actually exists is more appealing to me than writing a single query letter.

09) I’m impatient. I wrote my book. It’s done. There’s no way in hell I want to wait 2 or 3 years for a publisher to put it out. I’d rather take 2 to 3 years to build up sales for Dark Matter Heart.

08) I’m not good at asking permission. I’m not all that into asking (begging/pleading) someone (an agent/publisher) to read my work and publish it for me.
To lift a phrase from Jason Brubaker’s Filmmaking Stuff website, the old way of book publishing is “asking permission” for someone to put your book out for you. I don’t need to ask, I can just do. Why ask a half-dozen people (agents/publishers) to read your work when you can ask millions of people (customers/readers), simply by making it available and enticing them to read it.

07) I’m ‘hands on‘. I’d have trouble letting someone else design my covers, and do all that other stuff that publishers are supposed to do. That’s not to say that they would make a bad cover or that my covers are the best for my books, but that is to say, that I like to do that stuff. Like making promotional pins.

06) I’m greedy, possessive and I don’t like to share. It’s tough seeing my movie “Hunting Season” out there handled by someone else and only getting a cut of the proceeds. Do I appreciate Gravitas and Bosko Group’s efforts in getting the movie out there and available? Sure. Do they get it to an audience that I probably wouldn’t be able to reach? Sure. Does it suck that I can’t do whatever I want, whenever I want with my own movie? Hell yes. I want to be able to do whatever I want with my books. Like release a special edition of Dark Matter Heart that includes the original screenplay that it’s based on.

05) I don’t want to be pigeonholed. If you’ve seen my movies you know that I don’t do the same thing over and over. Yes, I will be putting out a second Cor Griffin Novel, but I’ve also got some hardcore horror stuff to put out, and some sci-fi to put out, and some dramatic stuff. I have a lot of different stories in a lot of different genres and styles. Signing with a publishing house would probably mean that I would have to stick with YA Paranormal. Without diversion. For at least a little time. Maybe that’s not true, but I believe it to be.

04) Here’s a quote from my pal Joshua Jabcuga: “You did it on your own terms. That’s art in its purest form, in my opinion. Fuck compromise.” I agree. Getting published means getting edited. Which means compromised for the purpose of marketability. Maybe that’s good for the book. Maybe that’s good for the story. I don’t know. All I know is that the book and story that is out there is exactly the one that I wanted to put out. Writing isn’t collaborative like filmmaking is (unless something is co-written). It doesn’t necessarily improve with more cooks in the kitchen.

03) Have you read J.A.Konrath’s blog? It’s a very convincing fantasy site about the gazillions of dollars a self-published author can make.

02) Have you read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog? It’s a realistic approach to the hard work and time that goes into building a self-publishing business.

01) To quote my pal Josh Jabcuga again: “Cor Griffin is proof-positive that the best investment you can make is an investment in yourself.” or as I’ve said in the past: “If I’m going to bet, I’m going to bet on myself.”

So that’s it. I’m sure these are the same reasons J.K. Rowling is self-publishing the Potter e-books. Let’s discuss.

“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

Shock Cinema Reviews BURNING INSIDE!

May 10, 2010


Shock Cinema #38

Shock Cinema #38

Check out Shock Cinema magazine #38, available this month, for rave reviews of

BURNING INSIDE:
“impressive…a challenging and altogether harrowing experience for discerning horror fans.”


SATAN HATES YOU:
“weird and wild…a truly subversive work of art.”

BURNING INSIDE will be available on DVD next Tuesday, May 18th from Channel Midnight Releasing. Pre-order now.

SATAN HATES YOU has been selected to screen at a number of film festivals this summer, dates and locations coming soon!

Great Audiences Make for Great Screenings.

May 9, 2010

And so the CT Film Fest World Premiere of BURNING INSIDE comes to an end.

I would like to send a HUGE ‘thank you’ to all who attended the screening last night at the Danbury Music Center. By all accounts on my end it was a total success!

The venue was packed (despite the screening being scheduled opposite the CT Film Fest Closing Night PARTY, guaranteeing that most people involved in the fest would NOT be attending our screening! And that we couldn’t attend the closing night party.) with, what can only be described as, the most patient, respectful and tolerant audience I have ever had the pleasure of sitting with. Despite the sub-par conditions assigned to us (the Danbury Music Centre should never be used for screening films, not to mention it was hot as hell in there) the audience settled into their seats and patiently waited as we hooked up the DVD player (The CTFF insisted that I supply a digibeta tape in advance for screening, (which costs approx $500) even though they didn’t have a digibeta deck available. So I had a digibeta tape made (at a cost of $500, because the CTFF said I NEEDED it) and we screened from a (15 cent) DVD on a DVD player THAT I SUPPLIED!) We then had to deal with with technical audio issues.  Apparently, since the first day of the festival the soundboard was hooked up incorrectly. The audio issues were resolved only because I knew there was an audio GENIUS in the audience: Mike Arafeh from Coffeehouse Recording Studio in Middletown, CT stepped up to the plate and delivered when the CT Film Fest failed to supply a technician or representative that could handle audio. Without his involvement it seems unlikely that the screening would have been able to go forward (remember, everyone involved in the fest was at the Closing Night Party… We were, pretty much, on our own, in the dumping ground.). Once the movie began, BURNING INSIDE captured their attention and the audience seemingly held their collective breath from the first frame through the last when the “Burning Inside background drone noise” was finally broken with a huge round of applause! After the movie I, unfortunately, had only the briefest, chance to talk and discuss the film with fans that were very receptive to its…. um…. unique qualities. I would love to continue those conversations so everyone should please feel free to contact me with any and all of your thoughts about it.

Once again THANK YOU ALL for your support!! It is appreciated more than you will ever know. GREAT AUDIENCES MAKE FOR GREAT SCREENINGS!

And as this chapter ends, a new one begins. BURNING INSIDE will be released on DVD soon (release date was moved back to May 18th) and is now available for pre-sale. The DVD contains a 1+ hour long Behind The Scenes documentary (created by Shane Tea French) that is getting rave reviews and is unlike any behind the scenes you’ve ever seen. Make sure to reserve your copy today at http://channelmidnight.com

Now let me get back to work on my next project, codename: “SHUDDER”

PS: If you attended any of the Screenings, Panels or Workshops at the CT Film Fest this weekend I would LOVE to hear about your experiences. Please post them (Good, Bad or Ugly) in the comments section.

What does a $500 paperweight look like?


BURNING INSIDE *World Premiere* at the CT Film Festival

April 21, 2010

My second film, BURNING INSIDE, is screening at the Connecticut Film Festival (CTFF) in Danbury, CT on Saturday May 8th at 10pm at the Danbury Music Center!

The BURNING INSIDE CTFF webpage is here: http://www.ctfilmfest.com/site/node/280

Tickets are now on sale here!

If you’re coming in from out of town here are some hotels to stay at:

Kim & I will be staying at The Maron Hotel with rates starting at $79 (203) 791-2200…
There’s also The Ethan Allen Hotel $89 (203) 744-1776…
and $89 at The Holiday Inn Hotel (203) 792-4000.
Make sure you mention the group code CTFF when calling in for your reservations.

At 10:30am on Saturday May 8th I’ll be participating in a panel called My First Time: Rookie Filmmakers on Their Debut Projects at the Palace Theater in Danbury (Sib Law who did the green screen and some producing duties on Burning Inside will also be participating in the panel) (tickets: https://the-connecticut-film-festival-llc.ticketleap.com/buy-tickets/festivals-and-fairs/my-first-time-rookie-filmmakers-on-their-debut-projects/danbury/94E7C736-ECA6-4DBD-B5DF-4F0BA051966 ).

I highly recommend that you check out the CT Film Fest webpagehttp://www.ctfilmfest.com/site/ . There’s a ton of great events, musicians (The Sawtelles, who contributed the opening title song to HUNTING SEASON are playing on Saturday at 7pm) and very informative panels going on for the entire week.

Please pass this invite onto all of your friends, family, fans, tweeps, facebookers, myspacers etc!!

Kim and I hope to see you there!

We’re planning on spending a good deal of time around the festival events passing out flyers, if you want to help out, let me know and we’ll get together to work to promote this thing.

http://www.daltongang-productions.com
http://www.channelmidnight.com
http://www.facebook.com/burninginsidemovie

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.)

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).

Sundance Goes Lo-/No-Budget. Kinda.

September 10, 2009

About a week ago, on September 2nd, the Sundance Film Festival announced a new section of the festival called NEXT. Sundance’s website describes this as “a new section featuring six to eight films selected for their innovative and original work in low- and no-budget filmmaking.” (You can find the full description as well as a downloadable official press release here .)

Low- and no-budget filmmaking !? WOW! Awesome. That is exactly what I traffic in. My first film “Hunting Season” was made for $5,000 and my second feature “Burning Inside” had a budget of $10,000, which is clearly in the realm of “low- and no-budget” films and is definitely “innovative and original”. I had submitted a work-in-progress version of “Burning Inside” for last year’s Sundance fest and was rejected but with their new focus on low- and no- budget films maybe the playing field would be leveled and “Burning Inside” might have a better chance against $10 million dollar films with Hollywood stars attached.

One thing that I have learned in the past 10 years or so is that there is a WIDE definition of “low- and no-budget” when it comes to filmmaking. And one thing that I noticed about Sundance’s announcement was that there was no specificity or guidelines in regards to what actually constitutes a “low-” or “no-budget” film. I can pretty much guarantee that my definition differs from theirs. I was considering re-submitting “Burning Inside” but before I shelled out the $100 submission fee (yeah, Sundance made the “low- and no-budget” announcement when the only realistic deadline left was the one that costs $100 to enter. Not exactly affordable in the realm of no-budget filmmaking.) but I wanted to see if there would be a better chance against the 5,000 films already entered, than there is in any normal year at Sundance. So I did some research.

A lot of articles were written about this big announcement but none had any more clarification than the information on Sundance’s website. In line with today’s journalism status quo, most articles were just a regurgitation of the info from Sundance’s page (I think they call this “aggregating”). I decided to contact Sundance to see if I could get some answers to my specific questions.

The Sundance submissions page has an e-mail address: programming@sundance.org. So I fired an e-mail off to them that said:

I’m sure you’re inundated with questions about the “NEXT” (Lo/No budget) announcement made the other day. I have a question or two:

1) “Lo/No budget” can mean many different things to many different people.  What is the criteria for a lo/no budget film? Is there a budget cap that you will be implementing for the films that fit this category?

2) If I submitted a film last year that will fit the Lo/No budget category ($10,000 budget) can I resubmit it this year (final cut was made on 03/30/09) for consideration?

Thank you very much for your time.

Nathan Wrann
Dalton Gang Productions
www.daltongang-productions.com

Today I finally received a response (after sending a follow up e-mail).  Here’s what they sent in regards to my questions:

“Nathan,

The films that play in the NEXT category, like all of our categories, are determined by the Programmers AFTER the film is selected for the festival. When you are submitting a film, you are submitting to the festival as a whole. Programmers will be making their choices based on atmosphere and aesthetic.

For a better idea of the NEXT category, I would direct you to this article: http://www.indiewire.com/article/john_cooper_we_are_looking_for_creativity_born_of_limitations/

If your film was completed AFTER our deadlines last year, then you are still eligible to submit to this year’s festival.

Best,
Programming Department
Sundance Institute
8530 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA  90211″

In the e-mail an article on IndieWire.com is linked to give me a better idea of the “NEXT” section. It’s interesting to note that in the article the film “The American Astronaut” is used as an example. “The American Astronaut” has a budget “between 1 and 2 million dollars” according to the wikipedia page about the film (hardly low-budget to me).

Taking this information, and the information in the e-mail into consideration it appears that it will be business as usual for Sundance. They will select whatever films they select (with no additional consideration for low/no budget, starless features) and then the films (if any fit) will be marketed in the “NEXT” category. In other words a $5,000, $1,000,000 or $10,000,000 “Indie” film all have the same chance of getting selected.

I’m not complaining about the films that Sundance selects or why they select them. They have a place in the whole scheme of things and if their niche is $10 million indie films then so be it. But I don’t think that they should make an announcement that implies they are re-focusing on selecting low- / no-budget films when they aren’t.

If you’re a low- / no- budget filmmaker and were considering forking over the $100.00 submission fee I hope that you found this blog before doing so. Not so that you would be dissuaded from submitting, but so that you will be better informed in your decision.

As for me and resubmitting “Burning Inside“, I’ll be saving my $100 fee. That’ll go a long way toward feeding the cast and crew of my next feature.

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.