Description image

The Latest HDSLR Success Story: No-budget 'For Lovers Only' Makes $200k Through iTunes (So Far)

07.14.11 @ 1:33PM Tags : , , , , ,

Twin filmmakers Michael and Mark Polish, whose previous credits include Twin Falls, Idaho and The Astronaut Farmer, have released their latest feature through iTunes — with zero advertising. Joining the advertising budget is the production budget itself, which officially clocked in at $0 (they didn’t count food and transportation, though even if you do, we’re still talking “no budget” filmmaking). Instead, social media — chiefly Twitter and Tumblr — have led to the film generating word of mouth online, and as a result For Lovers Only (iTunes link) has already made over $200,000. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II, here’s a clip of the black-and-white, French New Wave-inspired feature:

<embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

HDSLRs played an integral part of the film’s aesthetic — and their ability to shoot in real locations without permits. Says Mark:

“It looked like I was just shooting a married couple, or a couple getting married. So we were able to go into a church, and people would stay out of our way, because they’d think I was shooting stills.”

Also of note is their use of social media to launch the film:

Katic’s rabid Twitter and Facebook followings spread the word – and when Mark Polish found that the film was drawing almost 1,000 tweets an hour, he made up posters using the Twitter raves in place of critics’ quotes. Those posters themselves went viral on Twitter and Tumblr, and helped prompt a healthy iTunes presale.

For more, check out the full article at The Wrap.

[via Filmmaker Magazine]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 32 COMMENTS

  • Nice story, but how did they get in on iTunes for sale in the first place? I hear its not that easy.

    • Dude, don’t mean to be rude, but wake up :) Do you really believe that PR? They are quite well known filmmakers in and out of indie and Hollywood film world.

      Try to shoot a good movie, with good acting, good production value and then try to get it on iTunes if you don’t have a name or an agent.

  • Very nice! I’d also interested in knowing how they got on iTunes.

  • I believe they went through Cinetic Rights Management Film Buff to get on iTunes.

  • dadiwrekctor on 07.14.11 @ 3:35PM

    This is Medicine for Melancholy…

  • Maybe even their most profitable film to date….seen online figures showing some of their indies
    with name actors and budgets of about 1.8 million taking in box office under 2 milliion
    of which 1/2 is split with theaters…result=net loss.

  • Am I the only one that thinks that this looks a bit too shaky…I couldn’t get over that. Congrats though, it’s an accomplishment worthy of praise.

  • wow a feature length Calvin Klein ad.

  • i really don’t understand how that made any $ at all.
    but then, i really never understood that whole pet rock thing, either.

  • Ramachandra on 07.14.11 @ 9:53PM

    “French New Wave” inspired…. NOT!
    Where is the nihilism? Existentialist ethos?
    This project is 50 years too late to be New Wave, and needs to add something to the genre to qualify.

    Just a couple of pretty people intercut with ‘sexy times’ as Borat would say.
    Calvin Klein without the undies – indeed.

    RIP Claude Chabrol.

    • Well, that claimed inspiration is from the linked article. And I wouldn’t judge it until I’ve seen it (which I haven’t, yet).

      Even if you’re not a name director, you can try to get into iTunes using Distribber:

  • Come on, Stana Katic is in it. She’s only on one of the bigest TV shows on right now.

    • Ramachandra on 07.14.11 @ 11:39PM

      So what is Stana Katic is in it!? Her sole participation is being pretty, as is Mark Polish (and being the director’s brother).

      This is quite obviously a lame, derivitive copy of “Un homme et une femme” made in 1966.
      Leave it at that – certainly not here for U$14.99.

      Kinda takes the shine of the Polish kudos eh…

  • … et Jean-Pierre Melvile would be turning in his grave!

    Such superficiality.

  • MARK GEORGEFF on 07.14.11 @ 11:16PM

    The bottom line again in this digital world…the audience is global, diversified and more and more not American theatrical based. Use the same tech; your own story and vision…and good actors.
    Not needing big name, high priced stars…and plan it all out in pre production on your own…and you can also come up with a profitable product. Yeah…the Polish bros. have a few movies under their belts; so they have a rep.
    But in this digital world…just do it.

  • The trailer looks like Calvin Klein commercials…

  • Great article. Any ideas where you can find out how to get your film on Itunes in the first place? I’m based in the UK and had a quick search but couldn’t find anything. Maybe you could do an article on online film distribution and the various pros and cons of things like distrify etc

  • Am I the only one noticing that the audio quality on the dialogue is really lousy? Seems like you can get good picture for no budget, but good sound is still going to cost you. I’d be pretty annoyed if I paid to see a film and it sounded like that.

    • the sound issue is something common to many if not “most” video productions(be they video camera or hdslr based).
      There’s often very little thought put into it, and solutions are rarely searched for further than something that can work in all situations to do everything, but no such device/microphone exists(unless you take your ears into account).

      I could go on ranting about the fact sound is relegated to second class citizen status but it’s not the place for this.

  • I wonder if some of the nay-sayers here have actually seen the film? I have, it’s not all like the clip, and it is actually one of the Polish brothers’ stronger works. Katic does a beautiful job with a film role that’s finally worthy of her, and the story, while deceptively simple — two ex-lovers meet by chance after many years — actually unravels to a complexity of emotions which remain long after it’s finished. More than I can say for most films I’ve paid a tenner to see in the cinema. I would actually quite welcome the opportunity to see this one on a big screen, actually, despite owning it now.

    Perhaps the up-close, in-your-face intimacy of a story about impossible love isn’t for everyone, but in the hands of a good cinematographer (which Michael Polish is) the visual quality was quite amazing — even more so when I found out it was shot on a little HDSLR. The sound does have problems in occasional moments, not so much because of ambient noise, but because of whispered dialogue, although I’m not entirely sure that what they say to each other in those moments isn’t meant to be a mystery.

    Think what you may based on a two-minute montage, but I’d argue that it could not have succeeded in this manner if it was not an excellent film on its own merits — not all of the Polish brothers’ work has been as well-received. Its manner of distribution just proves that good films can indeed find an audience with Hollywood-size budgets. And I hope its success breaks open some new ground for less established filmmakers to use the same pathways to distribute their work.

    • @finovotny:

      I totally agree. I’ve seen “For Lovers Only” and I would pay again to see it in a theater.

  • Sorry, make that ‘withOUT Hollywood-size budgets’. Oopsie.

  • Koo – This is an awesome article. My buddy, filmmaker Joseph Ort over at Shadowmind pointed it out. I am going to post a link over at Filmmaking Stuff.

    For those of you looking to get your movie into iTunes, I am affiliated with MovieSalesTool – (Which means, I get paid to promote) – but these guys will help you get your movie seen and selling via the many popular VOD marketplaces like iTunes.

    Anyway – keep up the great articles.

  • Wanna get on Itunes? Not that hard. GOOGLE DISTRIBBER folks. Its there for the taking. No middleman needed.

  • I was wondering how the sound was on this movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m looking forward to. I have shot a feature on this same camera, the Canon 5D. Love Stalker
    You’re not ‘stuck” with sound on the camera. It behoves you to use a secondary device. Quite often we used a Zoom recorder, which is very small, simple and handy. The sound came out great.

    • Bowls, that film LOVE STALKER looks GREAT!
      The image is terrific as well, really impressed.
      Best of luck with it, will be passing that trailer around.

  • Earnest reply on 03.10.13 @ 3:44AM

    Wow, I finally just saw this film. Looks gorgeous for run and gun DSLR
    but poorly written and only adequately acted. And I call bullshit on callng it
    zero budget. Even Ed Burns doesn’t have the audacity to say that about his films. But god bless
    them. Even if it cost them 60-100k I still consider it a success as they made a
    profit and had total creative control. And it’s a great example of a New Wave-ish look
    that you can get out of a DSLR. Can you shoot ONLY black and white
    with Magic Lantern? And will it save you any data on file size?