Are 'Pay What You Want' Film Bundles the Future of Indie Film Distribution?
With technology advancing so quickly, and with the internet's supreme dominion over our entire lives, distribution doesn't look anything like it did in the past. In this day and age, independent filmmakers have to find creative ways to not just get their work out there into the ether, but to find an audience somewhere within it. Using VOD platform VHX, film strategy company Bond/360 is now experimenting with a "distribution and filmmaker collaboration" that offers award-winning films in a bundle and allows moviegoers to pick the price they want to pay for it. The directors of Indie Game: The Movie, Sign Painters, and Beauty is Embarrassing weigh in on their experience.
VHX's platform alone is creating an opportunity for filmmakers to sell content directly from their site, which is a relatively new(ish) concept. This bundling, pay-what-you-want experiment, called Creativity Bundle, is an interesting deviation from the "traditional" method of digital distribution. Bond/360 shares a bit about the idea behind forming each collection:
The curated collection delves into the inspired minds of artists across a set of diverse creative fields. While each of these films share the theme of creativity, an important similarity they also have is that they were made by a group of talented filmmakers driven by the spirit of entrepreneurism and innovation.
Bond/360 makes the Creativity Bundle's statistics available on its website (and is updated often). Currently, the average price paid for the bundle is $6.41 and the top purchasing countries are listed as the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and France. Though 25% of customers are choosing the minimum payment of $1, 18% are paying $15 or more, which is nothing to sneeze at.
But, how does bundling help a filmmaker make money off of their films -- especially when customers are given the liberty to choose how much they want to shell out for a bunch of films, and 25% of them are paying the absolute minimum? The first four films being bundled are Sign Painters, Beauty is Embarrassing, Indie Game: The Movie, and Helvetica, and three of those directors shared with us their thoughts on participating in Bond/360's experiment, namely how bundling affects building upon their fan base.
Faythe and I have said from the beginning that we wanted Sign Painters to be a starting point for a larger conversation. While that conversation has been largely focused on the passion, dedication and talents of the sign painting community, the film and it's supporters have also tapped into broader ideas: the intersection of art and labor, design and public space, and more. By being part of the Creativity Bundle, we've expanded the conversation even further.
Good films are never "just" about their specific subject matter and this collection of films should resonate with anyone interested in process and thoughtful creation.
Sam Macon – Director of Sign Painters
As filmmakers we spend so much of our time talking to each other about what we can be doing to support our films on our own. I love that we were able to come together and work to help each other out. We can’t always count on our movies being distributed so its going to become more and more important for filmmakers to help each other out. This really feels like the future of independent distribution. We all have ideas and content that we want the world to see and for filmmakers to start trying to figure out how we can collaborate on getting our work out there is very, very exciting.
Neil Berkeley – Director of Beauty is Embarrassing
In many ways, the idea of bundles, dynamic pricing, selling in non traditional digital markets are all part of a larger movement of the film industry essentially playing catch-up with how audiences consume and want to consume their content -- we’re really excited to be part of real, actual change and experimentation that hopefully nudges the industry/market a little further in the right direction.
Bundles empower audiences. Fans get a great discount, sometimes get to choose their own price, and ability to expand their collection with several titles at once. As a creator, bundles allow you to tap into the way people discover stuff online -- A fan may be familiar with only one title, and learn about more through a bundle.
Overall, we've seen bundles lead to a nice cross-pollination of audiences and broaden the exposure of our film. In fact, through the help of bundles, IGTM has been purchased by over 600,000 fans, at varying price points.
James Swirsky - Director/Producer of Indie Game: The Movie
There is still time to purchase Bond/360's current bundle being curated on VHX. If you're interested, click here to get your hands on it. (They will also offer different bundles in the future, so stay tuned!)
What do you think about bundling? What benefits/detriments can you see in using this method of direct distribution?
Link: Creativity Bundle