Filmmaker Looks to eBay to Auction Film Rights
by Brian Clark
In late February, when Vince Lozano posted an eBay auction during the American Film Market for the global rights to his 2000 film "Alvarez & Cruz," he thought he might be pioneering "an electronic alternative for self-distribution of low-budget films." When the auction closed with a winning bid from Girl and a Gun Films it looked like they had found their alternate. Now, Lozano says, "the moral to the story is if you don't have the money don't make a bid."
"Alvarez & Cruz," which is the directorial debut of the film's stars Alex D'Lerma and Lozano, is a Latino father-and-son crime drama that debuted at the Ohio Independent Film Festival in late 2000. "We didn't think we were getting fair offers from distributors," Lozano told indieWIRE via email. "So we decided to try something new." So they auctioned the global rights for a minimum $15,000 bid on eBay over three years after their festival debut (the film's budget was reported at around $28,000 to get the film in the can).
"We feel that eBay could be an electronic alternative for self-distribution of low-budget films," filmmaker Vince Lozano told AuctionBytes (an online auctions news site) when the auction was posted. "We're excited by the prospect of selling our film online during the American Film Market and possibly creating a new avenue for other do-it-yourself filmmakers."
They found Girl and a Gun Films (a new production company founded by Alan Zimmerman, Joe Todaro and Jason Royce), who won the rights to the low budget film as the sole bidder for the auction's $15,000 minimum asking bid, the first time eBay has been used for this kind of rights sale.
Girl and a Gun was unfamiliar with the film until they heard about the eBay auction. "Frankly, we stumbled across it, purely by accident," wrote company founder Alan Zimmerman in an email interview about the acquisition. "With very little press, these two filmmakers were able attract a lot of attention for their film and were able to attract us as buyers."
As filmmakers just starting the fund raising for their own first feature production, Girl and a Gun Films' acquisition of a film seemed risky business, but Zimmerman was optimistic. "We hope to raise capital for our future film productions from the revenue generated from the distribution of this film, and through capital investments from other independent parties," he said.
This week, though, Lozano told indieWIRE via email that "Girl and a Gun films could only come up with part of the money, so we decided to move on." He reports that they have interest from another company, and remains Optimistic about the potential of eBay for independent filmmakers, Lozano said, "We still believe eBay is a viable option for selling independent films if it's properly promoted."