Self-Distributing Your Film? Sell It as a Fully-Featured Android or Apple iOS App with MoPix
Getting your film in the can is almost always a struggle, but finishing a movie means nothing if people aren't going to see it. For the most part, filmmakers want as many people as possible to see their films. Distribution can be a minefield, and with more competition (and not necessarily more buyers), it takes a lot more creativity to get your film in front of a larger audience. If you are the adventurous type, however, and you'd like to explore self-distribution, a new company called MoPix is creating a way for anyone to sell their films by turning them into fully-featured Android or iOS apps.
Here is a description of the service:
Los Angeles-based MoPix gives videomakers a turnkey solution for not only creating and monetizing video – and related content – as apps, but also brings powerful functionality like in-app purchases, analytics, push notifications and more to the world of film. Whether its a feature film, cooking or exercise video, travel guide or other work, MoPix will convert it into a high quality, ready-to-download app that can be seamlessly deployed across all the major mobile app and smart TV platforms. What’s more, publishers keep control of their audience interaction and price structure, even retaining as much as 100 percent of their revenue. With MoPix, filmmakers will no longer be at the mercy of investors or big studios to get their film out to the masses.
If you're wondering how an app for your film might look, here is a look at the specific application developed with MoPix for the crowdfunded film, The Tunnel:
At the moment, self-distribution is still a new frontier, and there have been numerous startups that have attempted to crack the code of exposing your film to as many people as possible. Being in the Google and Apple app stores is an easy way to send people directly to your film without them having to jump through a ton of hoops -- buying the movie is as simple as downloading an application. This idea is definitely not a new one, but the proper execution of their app-builder is critical for success.
There is a tremendous amount of potential for apps that aim to replace traditional DVDs. With digital purchases of your film, a lot of the special content that would normally have gone with your film is now missing. If a viewer buys the app of your film, however, they can view as much or as little of the special features as they'd like, and it's all readily available at the swipe of a finger. Watching movies on tablets and smart phones isn't the greatest film experience, but once tablet and smart phone mirroring technology (like Apple's Airplay) is even more readily available than it is now, the movie-as-an-app idea will be a lot more enticing for casual viewers, and truly be able to take the place of special featured DVDs (I would say Blu-Rays as well, but that's another debate, and the visual quality will probably fall somewhere between SD and "real" HD).
There are also some interesting storytelling opportunities that may come from designing your film with a full app. The film you make does not have to be constrained to just that 90 or 120 minutes -- you've got a tremendous amount of interactivity right at your disposal. The opportunities for transmedia with these apps could potentially be limitless, but as with anything, proper planning can make any of those additions feel like genuine and necessary parts of your film, rather than something tacked-on after post production.
So you might be wondering, how does MoPix actually generate revenue if you're getting 100% of the profits from your app? The answer lies in their app-building service, which could cost filmmakers anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on how complicated the app is. It might seem like a lot of money, but it's actually right in the ballpark of what many paid apps cost to develop. It seems that people are often disappointed when they find out that a new type of online distributor is taking a heavy split of the profits, but the only alternative is what MoPix is doing. Unless you're going to build your own VOD platform, there will always be some sort of entity between you and your audience who takes care of a lot of the dirty work that goes into digital purchases.
According to the website the service is still in beta, but you can go to their website to find out more information about submitting your film.
What do you guys think about selling your film with tons of special features in app form? What about the transmedia possibilities of an app-based movie? Let us know what you think below.