As a sign of their commitment to paying filmmakers, IndiefFlix (well, its employees) put their money where their mouth is (or where there hands are) and literally handed out cash to passersby on the streets of Park City at the recent Sundance Film Festival.
"If you're going to spend $5,000 on T-shirts or beanies and hand them out, we thought 'why don't we just give that cash out?'" IndieFlix co-founder and CEO Scilla Andreen told Indiewire. "When people asked why we were handing out money, we said 'we pay filmmakers. We want you to give it to a filmmaker. That's what we do.'" Andreen said they stamped thousands of bills ($1, $2, $5, $10 and $20) and attached a card that read, "do what we do, pay a filmmaker."
Of course, it's a gimmick, but it's a straightforward way to get across the company's message to filmmakers.
Unlike most other distribution companies, IndieFlix operates on a Royalty Pool Minutes (RPM) platform, which pays
filmmakers based on how many minutes their films are viewed on various
devices instead of a flat licensing fee. The other big upside is for viewers: unlike many other digital platforms, IndieFlix is international and you can stream content from anywhere in the world. The films are available to stream on IndieFlix.com as well as Xbox and Roku.
Andreen, a producer, director and Emmy nominated costume designer, co-founded the multi-platform independent film distribution company inspired by on her own experience as a filmmaker. Attending festivals, she was amazed at the number of films being made that would never be seen outside the festival circuit.
"I'm a filmmaker first," she told Indiewire. "I started IndieFlix out of pure frustration and disbelief in the system. I made a list of things we wished existed in a company." She and her partner Carlo Scandiuzzi created IndieFlix to be a fee-free "one-stop shop" for filmmakers to distribution their films while maintaining their rights and getting profits. They launched Indieflix back in 2005 -- before digital distribution platforms were popularized by sites such as Netflix and iTunes -- with only 36 titles.
"In the beginning, people thought I was crazy. Raising money for IndieFlix in the early days was crazy. People said: 'You're going to let filmmakers keep their rights and be non-exclusive and you're going to pay them and be transparent? You're not going to last.'"
Fast forward eight years and the site now features over 4,000 titles and operates on a monthly subscription model like Netflix ($10/month for the first six months, then $5/month). "Whether you watch or not, you're paying filmmakers because we pay filmmakers for every minute watched," said Andreen, who said she expects the library to double by this time next year.
Andreen realizes IndieFlix can't compete against the blockbuster titles and original content on Netflix and that's just fine. "I don't want you to get rid of Netflix, keep Netflix and add IndieFlix. We don't have what Netflix has, but, unlike Netflix, you can watch our content anywhere in the world. You can watch on your iPad in Turkey if you want," she said.
Some noteworthy titles available on IndieFlix include the documentaries "Living on One Dollar" and "Abel Raises Cain," as well as Stanley Kubrick's first color film, "The Seafarers," classic campy TV movies such as "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" and cult classics like "Night of the Living Dead."
But it's likely you haven't heard of many of the films on the site before. "As long as it's a good story and has good production value and the filmmaker owns the rights...we've taken some stuff that wasn't the greatest quality, but has a great conversation around it and it was topical," said Andreen.
The IndieFlix library is comprised of 60% feature films and 40% short films, but Andreen said that shorts are the most popular, with the most popular genres being animation, comedy, documentaries and anything zombie-related.
Andreen's message to filmmakers: "It's not too good to be true. Instead
of having a film sitting on the shelf, you have an opportunity to be in
the game." Filmmakers can submit their films here.