PUMit and Crowdstarter Bring More DIY Audience-Direct Promotion, Distribution, and Monetization Tools
Sometimes it seems like the numbers of services allowing for film self-distribution are expanding so rapidly it's a bit overwhelming, or at least a little difficult to keep up with. This type of flooding can really only benefit the filmmaker, though, seeing as each project's release vector can be paired with the most appropriate service instead of being stuck choosing between a mere few. It may be time to add another notch to your list of options, because now -- with the help of film-centric audience builder-organizer Crowdstarter -- a service called PUMit is looking to get your film out into the world, get ticket revenue straight to your wallet, and provide you with all the tools to do so successfully along the way.
Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Well, that's great Dave, but what makes PUMit different from other self-distribution options?" You'd do well to wonder such a thing, because after all, we need to understand what the benefits of each given option may be to properly choose the route we take for distribution (true at each level of the distribution process -- perhaps self-distro isn't the proper route in some cases at all), not to mention the fact that these services must differentiate themselves from their contemporaries or risk immediate irrelevance or obscurity. I don't think there's anything to worry about in this case, though, because PUMit's model seems to have a lot of potential.
To oversimplify things a bit for the sake of comparison, this seems to me like the middle-road between, say, a VHX and a Cleeng. VHX at this point seems to be sharing very direct and specialized contact with its clients, building to something that works for that specific case, whereas Cleeng uses a simple plug-in and permissions system to get you setup straight away. PUMit seems primed to get you started right off the bat as well, but the back-end delivers some serious advantages. A full-on DIY distribution route, as Indie Game: The Movie taught us, first and foremost requires a tremendous time commitment. As they say, time is money, and even though you can use tools like Twitter very powerfully -- it won't necessarily cost you financially, but the time you put in makes all the difference.
Analytics is the other key. Time and Analytics symbiotically mesh into what really makes the magic happen. With a system like what PUMit is providing, and when used in tandem with other tracking systems, you can learn and adapt to what seems to be working, where the real numbers seem to be pinging back from, and where you may need to inject some more time and effort. (I realize that's a lot of back-links, but there's a huge amount of information on the subject to be abreast of, especially if you're thinking of going this route.)
Keep in mind that there seems to be a good amount of overlap between this next video and the one above, if I'm not mistaken they start diverging at about 2:17 or so.
There's another interesting facet of this subject -- PUMit in particular -- and that's the implementation of social commission (an aspect shared with Cleeng). Head of PUMit's business development, Olivier Pfeffier, had this to say to Indiewire:
Fans can re-sell their goods, and we have the technology to track that. We can help consumers promote and re-sell what they download. They are able to send the link to a friend, and if their friend buys from their link, they get a cut.
This could be a another key side of the burgeoning online-media complex. Sure, you'll spend your own blood, sweat, and tears pushing your project by whatever means you can, but the average viewer -- even one who bought, watched, and liked your film -- may not necessarily feel the need to spread the word themselves. A social commission system surely boosts incentive for this by a great margin -- if the viewer might make a buck by doing so, why not? More importantly (in my eyes), from a solidarity standpoint, is that the offering of social commission adds a tangible (and spendable) nod to consumers who help you out by taking that vital step towards going viral: clicking "share."
The disclaimer here, of course, is that I can't pretend to be the be-all-end-all expert on DIY internet distribution -- mostly because I've never actually done it myself -- but I'm very intrigued by it. Thanks to what we can reverse engineer from success stories and what we're told about them directly from self-distro 'survivors' (again, I point to the wonderfully open and thorough Indie Game case-studies -- must reads), we can learn a very reasonable amount about functional ways to go about these things, and whether it could be right for ourselves in the future. I for one do hope to one day be able to tell you guys about self-distributing a film from first-hand experience, but until then, I'll be happy discussing the tools that may be helpful on such a quest with you all!