By Indiewire | Indiewire May 24, 2000 at 2:0AM
BIZ: How's Your Dotcom Treating You? Part 4
by Alan and Smithee
Two filmmakers, in the midst of the current dotcom frenzy, have agreed to share their email correspondences on the subject with indieWIRE in a
continuing segment called "How's Your Dotcom Treating You?" To protect their
privacy, the filmmakers (one with a deal at AtomFilms) have decided to
remain anonymous as they tread the muddy waters of the new dotcom business,
trying to find the best place for their short, the most money and the widest
If it sounds like I'm trying to sell you on Atom, I'm not. I'm just
replying to points you made, and maybe hoping to convince myself that I
made the right move...
I sold my films alone for several years. It's a lot of work.
Go ahead. Try wrestling one of the other sharks. I dare you!!! I look
forward to comparing notes as we go along. May the force be with you.
PS. There is another issue: if a film has been shown on the Internet,
sometimes that means buyers (like HBO, who pay more $$$ than anyone) won't be interested anymore. For this reason, and at my request, Atom only show
clips of my films on their site. We want to sell the exclusive first showing
to a third party, TV or Web - for money. So, is "exposure" a good thing, or
does it decrease a film's worth? And what about Internet Film Festivals,
like the recently seminal "Yahoo!" I would like to have been involved in
that, but it would have meant showing a film on the web before selling it...
there are certainly more questions than answers.
That idea of not showing your whole film is a damn good one, in terms of
saving yourself for a TV sale, which at this point in history is still
better, dollar-wise, than internet revenues. But does that partial-view
destroy the idea of the internet as being the way to get your film to the
masses? I mean, wasn't that the point?
It brings up the question of giving up your exclusive internet rights. I
mean, if all you're trying to do is get some sales, why do I need to give up
exclusive rights? Some of the smaller companies--and there are more every
day--are more than happy to throw your film up on the web on a reversible,
non-exclusive basis. Which could end up being MUCH BETTER than being tied to
some behemoth of an internet company like Atom or Pop that doesn't really
have your interests in the front of their growth-obsessed mind anyway. I
don't mean to make you nervous -- you've already signed your rights away --
but maybe you made a big mistake! What advantage does a big company offer
you that a small company (that doesn't take away all your rights) doesn't
Fundamentally: I thought the whole point of the internet was the punk, DIY
(I forgot you're culturally illiterate: that means "do it yourself") nature
of it. Rock bands and Chuck D can now circumvent the music conglomerates
through the web, and filmmakers..... sell their films to dotcoms for a few
hundred dollars on the promise of future sales??? Well, wait just one
second, why are we trying to sign our films away to these dotcom companies
at all? Are we just wimps? We should put our flicks on the web ourselves
(or with a small company that takes nothing away)!
I guess if you do sign with a big company, you better damn well have a
reversion clause, which allows you to back out of the contract if they
haven't promoted/distributed/sold your film to your satisfaction. You have
to hold your dotcom accountable, or pull the plug. They need you, you don't
Meanwhile, I stare at the faxes on my desk, and when I ask the companies
wooing me what they will do -- concretely -- to promote my films, they say,
"We have ad deals" and "We have sales reps" and "We have DVDs planned" and
"We are friends with Blockbuster/HBO/Showtime/CanalPlus." And when I say there's nothing in the contract to prove they will exploit those connections to my advantage, they say, "Trust me."
The most notorious two words in show business.