March 5, 2016

What VOD's Growing Dominance Means For Indie Filmmakers

In 2015, there was a 3% drop in TV viewing time among U.S. audiences in 2015.

A new study by MoffettNathanson shows that American subscribers to Netflix alone "streamed 29 billion hours of video last year." Let's check out what this seismic shift means for indie filmmakers. 

VOD services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and iTunes are becoming go-to distribution channels for many indie filmmakers. Many of these companies have started to produce original content, and indie filmmakers are getting the chance to create and/or helm shows. Amazon Studios' award-winning comedy series Transparent is the vision of creator, executive producer, writer and director Jill Solloway, whose Afternoon Delight won the Best Directing Prize at Sundance in 2013. (Episodes have also been directed by Marielle Heller, whose Diary of a Teenage Girl was a Sundance sensation in 2015.)

These trends are making traditional media uneasy, to say the least. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes recently told investors, "It’s clear that [VOD] offers less monetization support for the quality and diversity of programming that we have gotten used to seeing on the dial." With behemoths having less and less control, independent distributors are thinking small and tailoring their releases for VOD, down to making sure the poster art looks good on a computer screen. (Distributor The Orchard discussed this in a blog post where they referenced their films The Escort and Red Knot.)

Red Knot poster VOD No Film School

When it comes to VOD's relationship to film distribution, syndication, and original programming, it's clear that in 2016, nothing is certain other than change. What form this change takes has yet to be seen, though, which is why, now more than ever, it's incumbent on indie filmmakers to make every effort to educate themselves about this rapidly changing landscape.       

Your Comment

8 Comments

Nice article, I feel lucky that I found it !

March 6, 2016 at 8:22AM, Edited March 6, 8:22AM

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Can somebody write down exactly what the steps are to put your feature, short or whatever in front of the right people at these places?

Or, do you have to win at Sundance or a major festival to even be considered?

March 6, 2016 at 10:07AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
851

Second that.

March 6, 2016 at 12:36PM

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Edgar More
All
952

Anyone can use an aggregator to get their film on these platforms, which does involve a person to person negotiation (the aggregator is like the middleman but without the traditional fee structure of a distributor). More info: http://nofilmschool.com/2016/02/whats-aggregator-and-why-do-you-need-one...

March 6, 2016 at 2:51PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

I feel very lucky to be an indie filmmaker in this day and age, with VOD and businesses like Netflix. It seems to me that nowadays it's easier to get your original and unique content in front of many eyes - sure, you have to use aggregation services and what not, but the opportunity is there, especially given that Netflix and Amazon both are willing to take much more risk with their content than traditional broadcasting services.

March 7, 2016 at 2:28AM

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Suzanne Borders
Writer / Producer
1

20 Years ago you could sell 10,000 or even 100,000 copies of an indie film to video rentals. You didn't know how many eyes you got on it, but it if you made something people liked, you could recoup the investment in a short time.
On the downside: it wasn't that easy to make a movie as it is now.

I love today's technology :-)
But that same tech is giving dimishing returns as supply is maybe even bigger than demand...
I'm curious how services like Netflix will develop as an economic viable venue for more projects.

March 7, 2016 at 5:12PM, Edited March 7, 5:16PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
7352

The Orchard... that company that puts copyright claims on YouTube videos with paid for licenced music and then don't respond to anything that proofs them wrong.
It's just leaching.

A bit off-topic, but I had to spill it... :-p

March 7, 2016 at 5:06PM, Edited March 7, 5:06PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
7352

One major roadblock to indie films is a lack of rating system, both for quality and content. There are a lot of families fed up with Hollywood who would love alternatives but I've found that even rentals tend to lack ratings, and most unrated films I've seen tend to have adult content (violence, gore, sex and language). If you want the largest demographic (families and children) to see your films, use a rating system. Perhaps the real barrier is the MPAA system and something new is needed that doesn't cost as much for low budget films.

March 12, 2016 at 3:23AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
450