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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More from the IFP Filmmaker Conference

Lance Weiler moderated a great panel yesterday afternoon that was supposed to be about "Consumer Viewing Habits" but wound up being more about the economics of supporting one's creative work, whether it involves full-length features (Arin and Susan from 'Four Eyed Monsters' were there), short-form funny videos (Andrew Baron from Rocketboom), or documentary (Brett Gaylor of Open Source Cinema).

Some very random notes:

Arin mentioned to Brett how important it is to collect ZIP codes from people interested in your project. That way, when you're doing theatrical screenings or events (or trying to figure out where you should do these events), you have a sense of the geography of your fan base: do people love you in Madison, Wisconsin, while they couldn't care less in Portland, Oregon?

Brett showed the trailer for his doc, which garnered applause -- a good sign. It should be finished next year, he says.

Andrew said that Rocketboom is one of YouTube's advertising partners, and that YouTube will share revenue from the ads it places on Rocketboom. But none of the ads have started showing up yet. Lance suggested that one reason why is that someone created a hack for Firefox that allows you to strip the ads off YouTube's videos. I suspect there may be other reasons, too. Afterward, Baron told me that the ad payments are based on impressions (not click-throughs), and that YouTube would be splitting the revenue roughly down the middle with its creators.

Arin and Susan shared a lot of financial info about 'Four Eyed Monsters.' They've grossed about $135,000 from the movie so far (but are still trying to erase some credit card debt.) About 69 percent of that has come from selling DVDs, movie tickets, and downloads, and 31 percent has come from selling t-shirts, posters, and other merch.

Afterward, Hunter Weeks (director of the doc '10 MPH') came up and we talked about distribution a bit. He said he hasn't really been selling many downloads on Amazon Unbox, even though an Amazon PR rep told me recently that his films was among the best-selling indie downloads on that site. (They had 12 downloads in the month of August through Unbox...and yet a representative for Amazon's CreateSpace division, which handles the indie content on Unbox, told me that month that they were "in the top 20 Unbox titles." What does that say about how well Unbox is doing?) Hunter said he also sells digital versions of the movie on his own site using a service called E-Junkie, which charges $80 a month to host the movie -- and nothing per transaction.

Then there was some hanging around in the lobby...I spoke with a couple knowledgeable folks about when, if ever, indie movies will appear on iTunes. The smart money is on 2008 -- not this year. iTunes is supposedly still more focused on trying to get more studio content. (It is now almost two years since I wrote this opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that Apple is being hypocritical by not allowing independent creators to sell their film and video on iTunes.)

Then there was a dinner that Slava Rubin of IndieGoGo organized....which brought together the 'Four Eyed Monsters' team, Lance, Brett, and M dot Strange...basically, an incredible about of DIY filmmaking smarts gathered around one long table.

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