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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coming Soon: SnagFilms, a New Approach to Generating Revenue for Indie Filmmakers

[ This was an early news post from June about SnagFilms...updated news about the launch is here. ]

SnagFilms, a new service that aims to help generate new online revenues for filmmakers, had intended to launch this week at Silverdocs, but the launch has now been delayed until mid-July. I'd hope to talk to some of the SnagFilms team while I was here in Silver Spring, but that didn't happen (the one SnagFilms person I started to chat up at a cocktail party Friday evening literally scampered away when I started asking questions about it.)

I'm eager to find out more about it, but here's what I've been hearing about Snag through the grapevine, from filmmakers, producers, and other industry types.

- Snag's founders are Ted Leonsis, vice chairman emeritus of AOL and producer of the recent doc 'Kicking It,' and media exec Rick Allen. Stephanie Sharis, formerly head of AOL True Stories, is also involved.

- It'll be linked/partnered with the AOL True Stories site, which these days seems to mostly promote docs with which Leonsis has been involved ('Nanking' and 'Kicking It' are prominently featured.)

- Snag isn't going to try to create a destination site for film fans, but is building a video "widget" that can be placed on other sites: a filmmaker's site, a blog run by an advocacy group, a Facebook profile, anywhere. The widget will deliver streaming film clips, trailers, shorts, and in some cases entire features, peppered with advertisements.

- I'm told that Snag will split revenue from these ads with the filmmaker or distributor, 50/50. Snag (or one of its partners) will sell the ads. Video ads can run anywhere from $20 to $50 per thousand impressions. Basically, that means that if your short film is shown 1000 times via the Snag widget, even at the high end of that range, you'd earn $25.

- Snag may also try to "upsell" DVDs to viewers, offering a link to the place where a viewer can purchase the disc. Snag will take about eight percent of that transaction, I'm told. (Update: 8.5 percent) Snag may also partner with digital download sites, too. Eager to hear more about that -- especially if Snag does a deal with iTunes, the main online marketplace for video content today.

- Snag isn't going to require that filmmakers give them exclusive rights for digital distribution/video-on-demand. But one issue that could prevent some more established filmmakers from working with them is that often broadcast/cable/home video deals require that filmmakers grant them exclusive rights to VOD.

- I'm not yet aware of any filmmakers who intend to work with Snag, but if you are, perhaps you'll post a comment. Also not sure if Snag is purely focused on documentaries, or will work with narrative features too.

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