Posts Tagged ‘video on demand’

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).

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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).


“If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable.”

August 11, 2009

On Thursday, August 13th at 7PM Eastern Time I will be interviewed via live chat by Eugene Driscoll of the Valley Independent Sentinel (www.valleyindy.org). We’ll be talking about my movie “Hunting Season” on Nationwide VOD, shooting (movies) in CT’s Naugatuck Valley and probably a variety of other things that involve movies and The Valley.

Eugene’s a good interviewer with a lot of insight and the whole format is interactive (you can join the chat and ask questions) so make sure to stop by: Valley Indy Live Chat on  Thursday, August 13th at 7pm Eastern Time

The quote that makes up the title of this blog is from the feature film “The Hurt Locker” directed by Katheryn Bigelow (“Near Dark”) now playing in theaters everywhere. Kim and I saw it last week and I definitely recommend it as a peek into the mind and life of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team in Iraq. Directing and Acting all get A+. Overall it gets a B. Screenplay gets a B-.  (On a bit of a side note, when my U.S. Army enlistment was nearing an end in 1996 I gave a great deal of consideration to reenlisting as an EOD Tech. We weren’t at war at the time). (Another side note: Katheryn Bigelow directed the superior vampire flick “Near Dark” (seek it out if you haven’t seen it) and the Keannu Reeves / Patrick Swayze excellent surfer-bank-robber actioner “Point Break” (which was remade a few years ago and retitled “The Fast and The Furious”). I don’t know if she’ll get a best director nomination or a best picture (unlikely, even with 10 nominees) but I hope the success and rave reviews of “The Hurt Locker” help her continue to make quality pics.)

One more thing: A comment was posted on my “The Big Day. Help?” blog entry regarding violence in film. I responded and hope to get a dialogue going about this very subject. Please check it out and comment away if you have an opinion one way or the other.


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.

The BIG Day. Help?

July 31, 2009

(I sent the following e-mail out to virtually everyone on my e-mail mailing list. Please feel free to copy, paste and distribute. I truly, truly appreciate any and all support we can get to help “Hunting Season” find an audience)

Today is the big day.

“Hunting Season”, my first movie (produced with Kimberly Dalton, my wife) premieres today (August 1st) via Video on Demand on virtually every cable and dish network across the country, except Comcast and TimeWarner (see www.huntingseason-themovie.com for details).  We are extremely excited that the friends and family that volunteered their time, blood, sweat and tears will finally have the potential for a nationwide audience to see the fruits of their labor.

This is a huge accomplishment for us for a couple of reasons but a major one of them being that we made “Hunting Season” for under $5,000 (plus the aforementioned blood, sweat and tears) and it is now competing on an equal playing field with movies that had production budgets at least $300,000 more than ours.

In reality though, the playing field isn’t equal, those movies with budgets that dwarf ours also have marketing and promotional budgets and the ability to buy advertising to drive viewers to their films. All that we have is our network. Let me rephrase that: WE HAVE OUR NETWORK! I believe that the friends, family, filmmakers, musicians, artists and others that I am sending this e-mail to undoubtedly have the knowhow, heart, the fanbase and the DIY mentality to truly level the playing field against the bigger budgeted behemoths we’re competing with.

That playing field can be leveled in 1 easy step. Forward this e-mail on to everyone in your e-mail address book.

I’m not  asking (and would never ask) you to watch or purchase “Hunting Season” I’m simply asking that you please spread the word by any means possible. Like an e-mail forward, or a blog, or a Facebook Event Invitation or a Twitter tweet. Ask your friends and family to spread the word the same way you are. The goal is not to convince people to buy “Hunting Season” but to build awareness. The ultimate sign of success would be if people start inquiring snopes.com to see if this is real. Or maybe I receive a forward from someone else 6 degrees removed down the chain. Then we’ll know we’ve arrived.

If you don’t want to forward this longwinded e-mail, copy and paste the passage below into a new e-mail. feel free to alter it however you like:

Today is the big day! My friend Nathan Wrann is an independent filmmaker and his first film, “Hunting Season” is now available on Video on Demand on cable and dish networks all over the country (you can find out where here: www.huntingseason-themovie.com). “Hunting Season” is a pretty brutal horror film and Nathan knows that it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea so he’s not asking you to buy it or watch it but he would be eternally grateful if you could please forward this e-mail on to the family and friends in your address book and ask them to do the same. Simply getting the word out and raising awareness about this micro-budgeted independent film is the goal.



If you want to learn more about “Hunting Season” please go to www.huntingseason-themovie.com

If you want a press release (that has more detailed info about the cast, crew, music, etc in the film) or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at nw@daltongang-productions.com

I truly appreciate everyone taking the time to read this e-mail and help us get the word out about “Hunting Season”.

Thank you
Nathan Wrann
www.daltongang-productions.com
www.huntingseason-themovie.com
www.burning-inside.net
www.facebook.com/nathanwrann
www.facebook.com/huntingseason
www.facebook.com/burninginsidemovie
www.twitter.com/nathanwrann
www.twitter.com/daltongangprod
Now on VOD!

Now on VOD!

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).


I’m Back… I Think

July 21, 2009

Okay, I’ve decided to try this blogging thing out once again. I’ve been spending a lot of time on twitter ( @nathanwrann and @daltongangprod while you’re there check out @kimberly_dalton and @kdaltondesigns ) and Facebook ( Burning Inside and Hunting Season *become our fan/friend!) (okay enough of that.) And it’s gotten me back in the mood to blog.

I also happen to have a HUGE event coming up in my professional life.

What is that event you ask? That event is the Nationwide Video On Demand release of HUNTING SEASON on August 1st! These are very exciting times for me as an independent filmmaker. I’m able to boast that I have a (literally) no budget film that is considered “good” enough to get distribution alongside $350,000+ movies and hopefully this will open the door to more opportunities down the road. But it will only work if you, the fine readers of this blog, not only order it yourself but also tell everyone that you socially network with (facebook, twitter and what was that other one? Oh yeah, Myspace oh and don’t forget those real life friends and family too 😉 ) to order it too and to tell their friends about it. Contact your local Cable Company or You can find out more here. Okay enough of the shameless plugging, I’m starting to nauseate myself.

One of the things that may have burned me out from blogging previously is that I felt compelled to write WAY too much. Which then became this intimidating thing that made me feel like I had to write these monster blogs. But I’m over that now. I can write my 140 character spiels on Twitter and I can write my mid to longer diatribes here.

This blog will now be a sounding board for things professional (announcing new projects maybe? I’ve got a few good ones just waiting to erupt), promotional (starting August 1st I will be writing up profiles on all of the fine musicians that supplied music to HUNTING SEASON. It’s one of the aspects of the movie that is ALWAYS commented on favorably) and interesting (Movies (did anyone see “MOON“? It’s awesome, check it out), music, art, books (if I ever get around to reading one again)).

The first course of business here will deal with the trials and tribulations of Self-Distributing an independent film on DVD (sometimes questionably referred to as DIY distributing. Newsflash, in film there’s nothing that’s DIY (except maybe writing, but it’s not film until it’s a motion picture)).

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being interviewed (it was more of a great conversation between independent filmmakers than an interview) on HorrorMovieFans Radio (You can listen to it here . I show up about 45min in but there’s a really good conversation you should listen to until then anyway). One of the things that we touched on, which is probably a topic on the tips of the tongues of most indie filmmakers these days, was Self Distribution. I decided to take it one step further and after the show contact my fellow filmmakers that were on the show (Alan Rowe Kelly, Abel Berry, Parrish Randall, Andrew Rose) and begin a further dialogue about self distribution. (The transcripts from those conversations may show up in future blogs). One of the points of the conversation is the effectiveness of on-line DVD-OnDemand distribution. Specifically we discuss Createspace.com (an Amazon.com company) but there is also another one out there called http://www.indieflix.com . What I’ve decided to do was to register for both companies simultaneously and promote the Hunting Season DVD equally for both sites and see which one has the better service, better experience, better sales and better revenue. This will all be coinciding with the release of Hunting Season on VOD. I’ll be discussing my experiences in this blog.

That’s it for now. I’ve already gone on for too long, but rest assured I will be back more frequently than I was before. See you around.