If the future of indie film distribution is digital download, do filmmakers have a home at iTunes? CinemaTech’s Scott Curtis offers a provocative post that’s a bit of a wake-up call for indie filmmakers. I guess it’s no surprise that Apple’s online mega-retailer is giving truly indies the cold shoulder: Like Blockbuster before them, iTunes doesn’t feel the need to cater to content that doesn’t already have a major company behind them, be it the Hollywood majors or smaller entities such as IFC or New Video. But unlike Blockbuster, iTunes doesn’t have limited shelf space, so why can’t they welcome anyone to their catalogue?
I’m no expert on the reasons why (maybe somebody else out there can elucidate, Matt Dentler, perhaps?), but I suppose like everything else it has to do with money. Revenue share with indies probably won’t produce as much cash for iTunes–who needs the small fry when you’ve got “Batman”? Just take a trip to iTunes’ Movie page and you’ll see the 8 new releases highlighted on the main page consist of studio titles, past and present (from “Superman” and “Tin Cup” to “Chariots of Fire” and “The Right Stuff”). At least, short films have some traction on the site, but American and foreign indies are nowhere to be seen. (Indie music, however, has its own section, so why can’t films?)
With Netflix also abandoning independent acquistions, instead favoring a similar model of purchasing from existing distributors, that leaves the film festival indie with few established places to showcase online. Of course, there’s IndiePix, IndieFlix, SnagFilms, Jaman, and myriad other web distributors cropping up that are happy to take truly indie content, but if the big Internet players are bypassing daring alternative cinema then we could be right back where we started in the current theatrical market, with the majors pushing out the indies.