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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

400 Producers Talk About Digital Strategies

The Independent Television Service just released the results of a survey, conducted this past spring, of more than 400 producers and indie filmmakers. San Francisco-based ITVS asked them about shooting in HD, distributing via the Internet, online promotion, and selling rights to their work.

The survey, in PDF form, is here -- it offers some great insight into the mind of the documentary filmmaker/producer. (Full disclosure: I'm in the midst of working on a research project with ITVS.)

From the conclusion:

    In short, the survey shows that few producers are profiting from digital distribution today. Most, however, are optimistic about the future impact of technology, although concerns linger about how indies will use brand, niche marketing and flexible partnerships to succeed in the digital age. These trends are in line with the marketplace, where only three to four percent of film revenue is currently generated via online distribution, mostly by commercial blockbusters and viral hits.

    Producers' perceptions of the future may reflect the experience of the music industry -- to which many referred in their comments -- where digital sales rose from almost nothing in 2003 to 15 percent of industry revenues in 2008, with some independent labels reporting up to 40 percent of their revenue flowing via digital distribution. For the independent film producer, however, few clear choices for online distribution have presented themselves to date, and many producers continue to move cautiously as they search and wait for better options.

There are some great quotes sprinkled throughout the report from producers who filled out the survey. Among them:

"Realize that more and more people, and especially young people, will have nothing to do with non-interactive, non-participatory content."


“I am overwhelmed with all the things I should be doing…the promise of the Internet is still at arms length….I’ll have to stop making films and learn a whole new skill set? Rats.”

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