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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Jaman CEO Gaurav Dhillon: Building a Marketplace for Indie Movies

I had a chance, just before the holiday, to sit down for a chat with Jaman CEO Gaurav Dhillon; I'd spoken with him the previous week for this Variety piece about the iPhone, and had also written here about a hack that allows AppleTV users to view content purchased from Jaman, even though Apple and Jaman don't have a formal partnership.

I'm posting the video of a portion of our chat here. It is very much geared to filmmakers who might be considering using Jaman for their films. Below the video are some of my notes from the non-recorded part of our conversation.



Some notes:

- Jaman's split is 70/30, with the filmmaker getting the 30 percent. That's a smaller cut than other sites offer, like Brightcove, EZTakes, Lulu and Grapeflix, for example.

- But Gaurav emphasizes that the site has done a lot of high profile marketing at events like the Tribeca Film Festival and Cannes, and that the community they build around their catalog of films will help lead users from one movie download to another.

- One cool feature: allowing viewers to "blog inside a movie," leaving comments and questions that other viewers can read as a movie plays, attached to specific scenes.

- Gaurav says they don't support downloading content to a portable device; they're more interested in getting onto set-top boxes like AppleTV right now.

- They also don't support DVD burning; Gaurav says that "a good percentage don't burn right or just won't play."

- Movies on Jaman aren't quite HD. They've got fewer than 720 horizontal pixels, but they're better than DVD. The file of one movie Gaurav used as a demo, "Agua," was compressed to just 1.3 gigabytes.

- Some of his favorite movies on the service: 'Yank Tanks,' 'An Uzi at the Alamo,' 'Stoned,' and Hirokazu Koreeda's 'After Life.'

- I suggested that one way to get other sites pointing users to Jaman movies (you can already embed links to movie trailers) would be to offer an affiliate program, where those sites would get a cut of any resulting movie rentals or downloads. Gaurav seemed open to that idea -- but it isn't on the near-term radar.

- Jaman's movie files are wrapped in their own flavor of DRM, but Gaurav says that if Apple would license its FairPlay DRM, he'd do that deal in a second. Windows DRM, on the other hand, is "buggy and crash-prone," he says, "and the rules that are imposed are fairly arbitrary."

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