Getting your film out into the world can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together some options for you—DYI film distributors.
Ready or not, a new age of independent film distribution is upon us. Given the current state of . . . movies and theaters and streaming service and . . . TikTok? Gone are the days of the theatrical run, hardcopy purchases, and DVD rentals.
We’ve officially entered into a new arena, and let me tell you—it’s gray. The dream of being a director and having your film show in an actual theater seems less likely and also more likely now than ever. Let me explain.
What I’ve noticed in the past year, and this could change as the current pandemic approach to theatrical releases and overall audience attendance will fluctuate in the upcoming years, is that the low-to-mid-tier budget films, specifically more leaning towards genre films—i.e. horror, fantasy, and thriller—are actually doing quite well in theaters.
Just look at The Green KnightCandymanPig—then look at how The Suicide Squad did. So, while the majority of films that end up being distributed are seen on VOD or Netflix, there’s still some hope for smaller-budget films to make it to the silver screen.
However, if you’re a filmmaker considering your options for your latest project, consider these do-it-yourself distribution options to get your films up, online, and monetized as quickly as possible.
We have to start somewhere, right?
The online distribution platform, Quiver. Image via Quiver.
Quiver is an online film distribution platform that allows filmmakers to keep 100% of their revenue for one flat fee. The platform distributes to worldwide audiences through video on demand (VOD) retailers like iTunes, Google Play, and Netflix.
Filmmakers can choose distribution retailers, distribution territories, and launch dates—while keeping complete control of their distribution strategy.
The only downside to Quiver is the apparent length one must wait for their work to actually be placed on a platform/distributed. Obviously, certain aspects of distribution are out of our hands and this is one of those situations.
Filmmaker split: 100% revenue minus $1,395 flat fee (plus $225 for each additional retailer).
Prime Video Direct
If you’re trying to get your film on Amazon’s Prime Video/VOD platform, you’re in luck because you don’t actually need a distributor to act as the middleman. With their “Prime Video Direct” platform, you can upload your film directly to Amazon’s SVOD and TVOD services.
In terms of royalties, their description says this:
For each title, you can choose to earn royalties based on hours streamed by Prime members, a revenue share for rentals, purchases, monthly channels, or ad impressions—or any combination of these options.
– Amazon’s Prime Video/VOD Platform
That’s cool, right? But, keep in mind, apparently their payout structure is extremely low, to the tune of “a penny per hour watched.” So . . . yeah.
Following in the traditional-distributor-aggregation footsteps is Bitmax. Offering extensive analytics on your project helps you know just who’s watching it and how it’s performing across a wide variety of markets.
The only downside to Bitmax is that they currently cannot get films distributed to Netflix or Hulu. So, that’s something to consider as those are major markets for independent streaming potential.
Right now, their pricing model isn’t available on their website, so I can’t say how much they charge or what the royalty rate is. So, you’ll have to tread cautiously.
Vimeo on Demand
Vimeo on Demand platform. Image via Vimeo on Demand.
Another platform to consider is one you’re probably already familiar with: Vimeo On Demand. Vimeo’s distribution, hosted through their platform, is as simple and intuitive as uploading a video to your profile. With a 90/10 split (minus Pro subscription and transaction fees), this deal is hard to beat.
Filmmaker split: 90% minus transaction fees and $17/month subscription.
Here’s how you sign up to start selling your project through Vimeo.
Selling with Vimeo On Demand
FilmHub operates a little differently compared to the rest of the services on this list. Consider this a place for your film to live, sitting in a store while VOD services shop for content.
So, to a point, you can’t know or expect to have much control over where your film lands—this is just a way for you to put your work out there and see what happens.
FilmHub does take 20% on the backend, but charges nothing for you to put your film on their site. Not a bad idea, especially if your film gets bought by someone and you still don’t have to pay anything.
DIY distributors, ReelHouse. Image via ReelHouse.
One of the brighter upstarts on the online DIY distribution scene (after their announced partnership with Sundance), Reelhouse is an online video community and platform that allows filmmakers to self-distribute at their discretion.
With monetization, social, and showcasing features, Reelhouse filmmakers have an array of opportunities to pick different distribution bundles, as well as connect their films with crowdfunding services like Kickstarter.
Filmmaker split: 90% minus 50 cents/transaction.
A few more filmmaking jewels just for you:
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Cover image via Meng Chatchai.
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