Indie Movie Distribution 2.0?

I haven't found too many other success-ish stories like this one, but I'm really glad it seems to be working. I found this via the WSJ.

In short, these guys made a film. They went well over a $100k in debt and couldn't find a distributor. So they put their film up on YouTube and ended up striking a deal with film-review/social networking site, Spout (they sell themselves as MySpace meets NetFlix). Spout gives them $1 for every person that signs up with the site after being referred by them.

Hopefully, the $1 price has been carefully set, so that even though there'll be a lot of people who sign up just because they want to help out these guys and may never go to the Spout site again, the percentage of users who do come back are worth it eventual revenue. The conversion ratio may be higher than usual though given that the users who find this movie will be really into movies anyway (Spout's target customer.) The Spout design on first look doesn't seem bad, so maybe they have a shot. Looks like Spout could do with the bump in traffic too. They're starting to dip (Compete data below) and we do live in an age where valuations are done by user count and they're probably looking for more than 50K users. (TechCrunch spiel on the site)

Update: I just saw the first 5 mins of the movie; not bad I guess, but I doubt I'll make it much further today.:)


steve w said…
Enjoyed your post. Not sure you were aware of the other player in the mix on the 4 eyed monsters promotion -- b-side. we're the company that is providing all of the distribution infrastructure for that they can sell not only DVDs but DRM-free downloads of the film.

Spout is definitely cool...but is really focused on the mainstream film audience and studio released films. That is a really crowded space... 4EM is probably the least known film on their site.

b-side is actually a social community and self-distribution platform for independent festival-quality films that are ignored or underserved by traditional distribution. Whereas the $1 per member promotion was a cool stunt...even if it works for them, it is not broadly applicable to other indie filmmakers struggling to monetize their films.

this is opposed to the substantial cut they receive from every DVD sale and digital download on the b-side site.

you should check it out and see what you think of the model. the site is we're giving away a free movie download to everyone who registers. I'd be really interested to hear your opinion.

Steve Waters
VP Marketing & Acquisitions

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