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Sunday, October 23, 2005

DVDs burnt on demand, for indie filmmakers

Swell piece in today's NY TImes by John Anderson, headlined, "Once It Was Direct to Video, Now It's Direct to the Web." The piece focuses on IndieFlix, a Seattle company that has Whoopi Goldberg on its advisory board.

Anderson explains how IndieFlix works:

    Directors submit their films, which are then posted on the Web site ( When users log on and click to buy the films that capture their interest, IndieFlix burns them onto a DVD and ships them out. The price for a feature-length film is $9.95.

    [Founder Scilla] Andreen's motto: "Own a movie for less than a movie ticket."

    At a time when audiences are ebbing, piracy is threatening profits and at-home downloading takes gas mileage out of the movie-going equation, a company that helps filmmakers and audiences find each other on the Internet may be as natural a step in the evolution of cinema as portable DVD players or reserved seats. It may also be as close to a no-risk deal as filmmakers are likely to find: all they need provide is proof that the rights to their film have been cleared, and a master to be copied. And unlike traditional or even online distribution deals, the filmmakers retain all the rights.

Of course, the key to making this business successful, for filmmakers and for IndieFlix, is building up a large audience. A partnership with NetFlix would be a brilliant idea...imagine if NetFlix used its recommendation software to suggest purchasing an IndieFlix movie that had never achieved wide release. "Since you gave four stars to the documentary `Comedian' on NetFlix, you might also like the stand-up documentary `A Documentary' from IndieFlix."

(Those are IndieFlix founders Scilla Andreen and Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi in the pic.)