Digital Distribution Strategies from the Director of Macheads
MacHeads (2009) director Kobi Shely has written a blogpost for DocMovies, based on his own recent distribution experience, entitled Can Indie Docs Secure Profits From Digital Distribution? Yes and No. In this guest post, Kobi Shely gives timely and practical advice.
Kobi Shely says, if he had it all to do over again, he would accept the responsibility for his own marketing and first sell DVDs and downloads from his own website. This initial window is key, because the filmmaker can charge true fans a premium for deluxe DVDs and you don't have to split revenue with anyone else.
Then, after that window of distribution, if you can get an aggregator to represent your film, there will still be value in a digital distribution deal with iTunes (US, UK, Canada). iTunes is strong in English speaking North America and the UK but, according to Kobi Shely, you should look into a company like Babelgum for foreign digital distribution.
In addition, Kobi Shely says you can also make as much as 4 figures from Amazon VOD.
Finally, there is also money to be made from selling your DVD on Amazon and other retail stores and through Netflix streaming and "free" platforms like Hulu and Snagfilms.
Basically, Kobi Shely advises you to sell your film to your core fan base from your own website first. That window is key because you'll keep all of that money (you pay your expenses and everything after that is profit). Once the DVD sales and downloads from your website cool off, if you can find a distributor willing to represent your film (Kobi used FilmBuff), there is still money to be made from iTunes, Babelgum, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. But those sums are generally small and the monies are split 3 ways, with 1) the service offering your film to customers, 2) the aggregator (such as FilmBuff) and 3) you.