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The Latest VOD Numbers Are In: But Can Broadband Save Indie Film?

The Latest VOD Numbers Are In: But Can Broadband Save Indie Film?

If you’re a filmmaker looking for an edge in today’s new digital distribution universe, it can’t hurt to come up with a title for your movie that begins with the letter “A” or “B.” It may sound facile or crass, but with Video-On-Demand an increasingly important segment of the business, recent indie movies like “The Answer Man,” “A Quiet Little Marriage” or “Bart Got a Room” will advantageously sit atop the catalogue of cable operator’s On-Demand listings, while movies like “World’s Greatest Dad” and “What Goes Up” will sit at the bottom… So goes my latest Industry Beat column for Filmmaker Magazine.

Money going back to the filmmakers–a.k.a. “overages”–continues to be slow to report and probably insufficient to recoup the costs of a larger-budget film, but it’s still something. As sales agent Andrew Herwitz says in the piece, regarding the small returns on one of his films, “It’s not a totally insignificant amount of revenue.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s better than nothing.

And yet, for the bulk of independent filmmakers, the whole discussion may be moot. After reading my article, filmmaker Ryan Gielen wrote this response which essentially says the IFC model is not only irrevelant, but inappropriate. “The average indie doesn’t get into Sundance, doesn’t get attention form IFC,” he writes, “and focusing on these models can distract from preparing a competent or hopefully sophisticated strategy for release, using all the available tools.” Gielen says Hulu provides far higher percentages than the VOD distribs, but I still wonder how much money we’re ultimately talking about. Is it enough for Gielen and other filmmakers like him to make more movies?

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