A Cautionary Story from a Filmmaker Who Was Making Revenue Online

In searching for stories about filmmakers who support themselves simply by distributing their films online (scarce), I found this unhappy report from Dylan Winter, a freelance journalist and filmmaker from England, about the danger of relying on Google AdSense. Dylan Winter's story (how one filmmaker had his income shut-off) opens the door to a discussion of several of the big problems confronting all online filmmakers: 1) Real money from online independent films is rare, 2) If you're lucky enough to generate revenue, access to that revenue can depend on how the big Internet companies choose to exercise their power and 3) Many of the filmmakers who are making money online are apparently working in genres that are not traditional feature-length narratives.

The sad truth (as reported by producer Jon Williams in his post on Ted Hope's blog about how Dylan Winter has been cut off from a primary source of revenue from his filmmaking) is that most of the writing about profitable online film distribution comes from "someone who makes a living as an internet marketing consultant, or someone who made a DIY-distributed documentary with a clear niche-market target who’s found that writing internet marketing manuals and doing speaking engagements is a much better and more reliable way of making a living."

Do you know a filmmaker making enough to live AND to support their filmmaking from online distribution of their films alone? Is Jon Williams correct? Do most of the "experts" about online filmmaking currently support themselves as educators and consultants? What kind of films really make money online?

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