More Important than YouTube, Canon 5D MkII and Vimeo..? Get Ready For A Film Makers GAMECHANGER in 2011…

Go on, Click the Play Button above… isn’t that a Game Changer?

The last two years have seen more change in Indie film than ever before.

There have been THREE major developments,

First, the DSLR revolution and the Canon 5D MkII. This put high quality, low cost cameras into the hands of film makers. That changed how we could shoot.

Second, there has been proliferation of knowledge through social media, online resources and connectivity through Twitter. Ask on twitter or Google it. Either way, with a little work, you should find the answer to pretty much any film making question.

The third is Vimeo. The ability to upload and share your work, while retaining high quality… that was a major evolution.

But for the entrepreneurs, there has always been a missing link.

How can I effectively sell my film online?

I have the tools now. I have the know how too. Vimeo is great to share work, but I can’t effectively charge for it.

Sure there are other ways monetise.

You can give it away free and harvest advertisements, but that’s SO tricky.

You can give it away for free and use it as a way to foster a ‘tribe’, or perhaps get millions of hits and get ‘noticed’. There are some who would argue this is a great tactic. It may be for some films, but not all.

You can go to iTunes maybe, but there are expensive barriers to entry (aggregators, the new name for distributors who can often do very little and still take a lot).

You can sell it on DVD / BluRay on your own site using PayPal for a payment service. That does work (or it has for me) but it’s limited to ‘buy it now and we will post’. It lacks immediacy.

And form what I can see, there’s very little else to choose from.

This is astonishing given the power of the web. The internet has promised so much but delivered so little when it comes to online commercial film delivery tools. This is even more surprising given the ease of financial transactions (PayPal proves that) and given the thirst for online content (BitTorrent proves that). People use credit cards on the web and regularly download and watch films in great volume.

Recently I became aware of a new technology called DynamoPlayer. And it’s a gamechanger of immense significance.

What is it?

It’s like Vimeo, only you can charge a rental fee to watch your film.

YOU upload your film.
YOU set the price (from 99c to $11.99)
YOU set the rental period (up to 30 days)
YOU then embed the player on your pages and Dynamo does the rest.
YOU PROMOTE YOUR FILM.

THEY supply the player and encoding technology.
THEY supply and pay for all storage and bandwidth
THEY take care of financial transactions.
THEY DO NOT PROMOTE YOUR FILM

When a visitor comes to your site, they will see a big and familiar video play window (the one at the top of this blog is a DynamoPlayer video). When they click play, the window comes up with the rental offer. They can then choose to pay, or watch a preview. That preview could be a trailer or it could be the first five or ten minutes of your film. Either way, they get to sample your film and if they like it, they can rent it and watch it immediately.

The video will play in SD or HD and in a window or full screen.

And here’s the best bit. YOU GET 70% of every sale! That is right. SEVENTY PERCENT. And there are no long accounting periods, you can withdraw your money almost right away.

You see what I mean? It’s a gamechanger.

Of course now we are back to where we have always been. How do I drive traffic to my site? How do I convince people to buy? Effectively, how do I get punters into my store and when they are there, how can I convince them to buy? But the key part here is ‘I’, that’s ME. With DynamoPlayer I am responsible for my success or failure.

I am REALLY excited about this as I am back in charge.

Itunes Compare this to what happened with iTunes for my short film ‘Gone Fishing’ (which only last week appeared in the ‘New and Noteworthy’ section on Apple TV).

Believe it or not, I was expected to drive traffic to the iTunes store myself where Apple could sell my film. Apple would take a cut of every sale, then pass the balance to Shorts International (the aggregator) who would deduct expenses and take a cut too. If there was anything left, they would pass that balance to Network Ireland (my sales agent) who would take a cut and pass on the final balance to me. A familiar story?

After six months I have seen ZERO from Apple regarding ‘Gone Fishing’. No-one has even given me a report (and I know Network Ireland have asked several times). So as far as I know I could have sold one copy, ten, one hundred, a thousand, ten thousand… Whatever the income, it’s either in Apples bank or Shorts Internationals bank. Plus, iTunes does not deliver short films in HD (in the UK), only SD.

(UPDATE, 15 days after I posted this blog, I got the first report from SI – you can view the PDF here – Download Gone Fishing Statement001)

So now consider what would happen with DynamoPlayer…

With DynamoPlayer, if you buy my film from wherever I have embedded it (my sales page, my blog, Facebook, anyone else’s site I can convince to embed it), I get 70% of that sale pretty much right away.

Sure, I don’t have a big and swanky iTunes store, but I do have 100% control. And let’s face it, for me at least, iTunes represents zero income after one year. Maybe it will be better in another year? I wonder if Shorts International will ever report to us? (and as I am reading this back, I am pretty sure I will now get bumped out of iTunes).

OK, so it’s no surprise to find that I have already setup the sales site for ‘Gone Fishing’ over the weekend.

Of course I will leave ‘Gone Fishing’ in iTunes, they have a customer base who may ‘browse’ and find the film. And assuming Apple/SI actually report to me one day, that should represent a revenues stream, no matter how small. It’s also good to be seen in the iTunes store.

PackShotMed I will also continue to sell DVD’s and BluRay disks from my site (I wonder if I will sell more disks now people can see the film for $1.99? This could boost disk sales).

I will also continue to work with Network Ireland who have done terrific work selling the film to broadcasters.

So here is the official site where you can watch Gone Fishing and get all the extras for $1.99…

http://www.buygonefishing.com

That’s less than the price of a coffee, and you will also get over two hours of film making extras thrown in. And you also know that Team Gone Fishing will get 70% of the sale. The balance goes to the DynamoPlayer team (who are themselves film makers who got hacked off with the state of play so built their own system) who will then get funded to develop and improve their service.

DynamoPlayer is still in public Beta phase, so there are some wrinkles, but from my end, it works, and works REALLY well.

There is a cool stats tool inside the player and I will share with you all the results over the coming weeks and days. This will show ‘player loads’, ‘preview views’ and ‘purchases’ etc. It will be fascinating to see just how it performs.

So please, go to the site and rent the film, or rent the film on the blog here, and email all your friends about it… Let’s see just how far we can take this!

http://www.buygonefishing.com

It’s VERY exciting times!

PS – I am also amazed to discover that with 154 votes on IMDB, ‘Gone Fishing’ has a rating of 8.4 which, if it were a feature film, would rank it around the 55th most popular film of all time! That’s crackers! You can see that on the new Gone Fishing page here.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

www.livingspiritgroup.com 
www.ProductionOffice.org
e: mail@livingspirit.com

23 Responses to More Important than YouTube, Canon 5D MkII and Vimeo..? Get Ready For A Film Makers GAMECHANGER in 2011…

  1. Mike Barnes February 21, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Very exciting, we have been waiting for this for so long. Now we just need every filmmaker to adopt this as soon as possible so that it will force the other distributors to change their ways.

    A couple of years ago my feature film was totally ripped off and exploited by a sales agent in LA leaving me exhausted and heartbroken.

    I hope dynamo starts a revolution so that we can’t be exploited again.

  2. Nino Leitner February 21, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks for sharing, Chris. I will be trying this as well with my documentary “Every Step You Take”.

    It looks like a great service, but the basic problem remains: they can change the size of the share at any time … that combined with an obviously small budget to push the service (that is just a guess based on the design of their website) will make it difficult for them to reach a mass market in the long haul.

    What we really need is an open-source marketplace platform for filmmakers, because it needs to be adapted by essentially ANYONE willing to distribute their film on their own. Everybody should be able to charge what they want and keep the entire profits, donating a share of their profits – if they want – to that opens source platform to finance further development if needed. I think this could work and it would indeed bust traditional distribution.

  3. Leigh Hammond February 21, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    This could be the way forward if enough people adopt it! Up-to now I’ve not seen anything that has made me think about this side of filmmaking! I’ve always kept my head down and hoped I’d figure out something when I’d finally finished my film! Now I can see the whole process start to finish which is really exciting!

  4. Ben February 21, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    I bought gone fishing from iTunes. Love it. Hope you get some revenue from that source soon!
    Ben

  5. Anton Russell February 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    It’s always difficult to raise money for the next project so any stream is helpful. This seems to be great at that. If you make the cost pretty nominal and work hard to get an audience then it’s got to be a good compromise. The taster is a fantastic idea as the risk of ‘will I waste my money on this?’ is dramatically reduced by getting a feel for the piece. I’m excited!

  6. Cannes news February 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Excellent. Coming from the music side, what has always galled creators is the lack of choice. Once created, you lost control. If you feel that giving away the material is the way to go – got for it! But if you feel the need to generate income (if you have investors, for example), I would wholeheartedly recommend something like this.

    Both options are OK. I feel the preview above is enough to make a decision.

    But I think it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a new option. I wouldn’t rely on this alone to recoup £10,000, although I could be wrong.

  7. Smutshos February 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Services become game changers only if enough people use them!!! So time will tell.

    Did you know that social networks came into existence in the 70s on the ARPANET!

  8. andrew February 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I am very exited about this! Like the APP store on my Iphone people are making lots of money from $1 apps because the market found a way to the consumer.

    I look forward to getting this going and simply sending people to the websight rather than trying desperately to get a distributer to acknowledged my film.

  9. Gabriel February 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    thanks for sharing. You might also be interested in the system from the Swedish website http://www.flattr.com. It’s more based on a voluntary payment structure, but it makes it very easy for viewers to financially appreciate your web content. – and if you’re an early adopter you get the advantage of getting extra exposure amongst people who are part of the applauding online community.

  10. Michael Craig February 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Very positive news. I’m already working on it as well. Nice and simple as well.Thanks for the info

  11. Chris Jones February 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Lots of great comments and opinions. Mike you are right, if we all use this new tech, it will force others to change their ways, mainly distributors. What Dynamoplayer really offers is a genuine tool that you can build a business plan around. What’s exciting is not ‘what have I made that I can upload’ but ‘what can I make that suits this new platoform?’ And thnanks Gabriel, will check out http://www.flattr.com

  12. Mark February 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    That’s great Chris just what I need!

  13. Simon Cox February 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    My film has been up for about 12 hours now and I’ve already made $5 – and I haven’t told anyone about it yet!! Many thanks for telling me about this Chris, beers are on me!! http://www.alphastarproductions.com

  14. Diana Townsend February 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Wow – this looks fantastic. I’m still in pre-production at the moment and actually selling my film seems a long way off but I can’t wait to try dynamo. If I’m lucky may be all the wrinkles will have been ironed out by then!

  15. Nic February 22, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Great you raised this. There’s a few other services doing this as well, including:

    http://www.videolla.com, who seem the cheapest – they charge 10% plus 10 cents per sale plus $5 a month.

    There’s a couple of British ones – http://www.invideous.com – they charge 10% as well, but you need to host the video yourself and install their plugin around the video player.

    http://www.distrify.com launched at Berlin and they also charge 30% but – like Dynamo – host the video.

  16. Please don’t lump all aggregators into the same bucket. Our filmmakers get quarterly statements and checks and some of them are doing quite well. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great product and I can’t wait to check it out, but you should still have your film on other digital platforms like iTunes, Amazon VOD, HULU, Playstation, YouTube Rental etc. where people can find you. Just be sure that you find an aggregator that will report and pay on time. It’s easy enough to call a few producers and see if they are getting reports and checks.

  17. alex may February 22, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Just wait until YouTube/Facebook/Google copies this. Then we’ll really have lift-off.

  18. dd_opco February 22, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I’d be intrigued to see something like the Dynamoplayer get a shopfront on PS3 / Internet Ready TV

  19. Peter Handford (Writer/Director - Heretic) February 22, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    This is the sort of news I’ve been waiting for; our debut feature shoots in August (check us out here – http://www.modscientists.com) and whilst our current desire is to achieve a cinema release (mainly because newspapers and magazines don’t treat digitally-distributed or straight-to-DVD films with anything like the reverence that they afford cinema releases) the idea of having complete control of our product is hugely provocative. But the key is making access to your film as easy for the customer as possible, which services like Dynamo seem to offer.

    I purchased and downloaded the new Radiohead album at the weekend and , while the website doesn’t have the glamour of itunes, the process was simple and straight-forward; choose your download format, pay and download, it is a wonderfully efficient way of delivering media to your customers and this is the sort of model I would like to see for film. The only current gap that I see (which is steadily being mitigated by the advent of Internet TV’s, games consoles and blue ray players) is the making it easy for someone to buy and watch a film on their TV. Personally I never watch anything on PC and it is far more comfortable to sit back on your sofa with a beer watching a film on an LCD TV rather than hunched over a laptop.

    Nevertheless, being able to digitally distribute your own film is definitely the way forward, as there are too few slots at the cinema and people are now enjoying TV and Film on a variety of other internet-ready devices on which they might purchase your product. In the future, the only people whose jobs are safe (and indeed may even become more important!) are the advertisers; as the trick will be getting your product in front of someone and finding ways to make it rise to the surface.

    Best brush up on those Mad Men box sets!

  20. Alex May February 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Looks like DynamoPlayer couldn’t come too soon after this article appeared on the LA Times website:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-apple-20110219,0,7123994.story

  21. Mike Barnes February 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Check out Kevin smiths ‘Red State’ he is sick of aggregators/sales agents and is self distributing – it took him years to get any money back from the sales agent for ‘Clerks’. Unbelievable!

    This has to change.

    Bring on the revolution!

  22. Nathan Wrann February 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    The real game changer will be when a high quality, user friendly product (Dynamo player maybe) is available on a ubiquitous set-top box. Make the movie available where people want to watch them. It’s why the iTunes market took off (songs available RIGHT on the player) and why the e-book market is flying (books available RIGHT on the reader). Make a dedicated Dynamo player Market app for every connected blu-ray player, roku, TV, iPad out there and let my indie film compete at $.99 in the VOD market against studio films that are priced at $3.99 or higher.

    That would be a game changer. At this point it’s just another good tool in an overcrowded, unorganized on-line video market.

  23. Flowers March 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I disagree that DSLR cameras are high quality. They certainly create what is seemingly a dynamic image but they have major artifact issues. Filmmaking at it’s core is fidelity. In all it’s forms – story, craft, acting, directing, cinematography, editing etc…

    The DSLR concept is ground breaking but the technology isn’t quite there yet. When they get rid of line skipping, rolling shutter, 8bit compressed h264 and so on then it will be a true filmmakers tool. Right now it’s only in it’s infant stages. However, It will become badass in the coming years as the hardware gets better.

    I feel DSLR is a depth of field revolution for sure. It puts nice glass in the hands of filmmakers. But even the VX1000 revolution couldn’t get past poor story telling. It’s no different here.

    Even with all this new point of sale technology we as filmmakers have to make impeccable content. It’s our jobs to create the most professional product possible. Even with no money. No excuses. A pretty picture is only a small part of the battle.

    So it’s good to have all these tools but with out a quality film what does it matter. Even 35mm isn’t immune to poor direction.

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