Distrify Blog

The future of online film distribution and marketing


Distrify is a suite of online tools that empowers all stakeholders in the film production & distribution value chain, enabling more effective sharing and easier monetisation of content.

MJFF is launching its own new VOD website mjff.muvies.com. The platform is powered by Distrify, and it’s another addition to our growing list of renowned film festivals To offer festival content to audiences year-round. The list includes IDFA, UK Jewish Film Festival,  Sheffield Doc / Fest, and Raindance Film Festival.

"We are thrilled to offer film fans yet another way to experience the best international films year-round," says MJFF festival director Igor Shteyrenberg. And that’s exactly what he, the festival, and the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education are doing: bringing the movies directly to you.

"The launch of our VOD platform is a defining moment in the Miami Jewish Film Festival’s 18 year history, as it will unlock the past, present, and future of Jewish film, and most importantly, offers an unprecedented opportunity to connect with a passionate online audience of film lovers," he explains. Even though the website is brand new, there’s already a solid selection available for anyone interested. On the front page alone, a flurry of works are shown, many of which have been included in the festival in the past.

If you’re not interested in looking through pages of films, the site conveniently offers multiple categories to choose from in a sidebar; comedies, documentaries, short works, and queer films among others. Just to list a few of the varied choices available for interested parties, there’s This Must Be the Place, Let’s Dance, Eyes Wide Open, Thérèse Desqueyroux, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Berlin ‘36, and Paris Manhattan.

While the selection isn’t nearly as vast as what some of those huge services might offer, the prices are reasonable: Average rental price is between $3.50-$5, and to buy the film it’s around $8-$12. (Discounts will be available for MJFF members.) Compare that to dropping $20 on tickets for a night out (and that’s not even including the parking, food, and drinks).

But what’s best of all about this project, outside of the convenience of it all, is that it’s another excellent reminder of just how dedicated the Miami Jewish Film Festival is to providing audiences with diverse films. We can only hope to see what else they bring us this year.


We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Respekt a weekly newsmagazine in the Czech Republic, and Aerofilm VOD arm Aerovod. We are enabling streaming rentals of top films direct from Respekt’s website so readers can watch the films from their connected devices.

Aerofilms, is a Czech film distribution company that extends the activities of the three largest art-house cinemas in Prague, Bio Oko,Aero and Svetozor. Aerofilms are a distributor with a focus on high quality and attractive films, including documentaries. The exploit theatrical, video (including Video on Demand) and TV rights in the territories of the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Our first offering is 'Ida', a film by polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski. The film follows Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, who is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. The film won many awards including TIFF prize of the international critics. 

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Distrify lets filmmaker to set their own pricing for their films. Filmmakers can even set different prices for different territories by using our multiple currency options or combining these with our geo-location tools.

The question how to set your price for video on demand is a question we get quite a lot from filmmakers.  Our advice is to not set your prices too high to put you out of competition and more important, to not set your prices so low that it cheapens the product.

We recommend the following price ranges for new releases:

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Unfortunately we see a lot of cases where filmmakers are setting their price as low as $2.99 for rental, and $5.00 for download, that is a mistake we advise to avoid. One of our top selling films started with a price tag of $1.99 for rental and $5.99 for download , then gradually they updated to $4.99, and $19.99 their sales were the same. Our data suggests that your fans will be willing to pay up to $4.99 for rental and $19.99 for download as long as the film is worth watching. 

The internet market is fragmented and divided to those who prefer to download films illegally for free, and those who prefer to pay for content. Consumers who are willing to pay for your content will not make their buying decision according to a low price, if they actually had gone to your film page, and click through Distrify’s pay wall, that means that they are engaged and would be willing to pay the “iTunes” price, which is set at $4.99 and $19.99 accordingly. 

If the film is older you might consider a lower price. If you are offering extras, you can sell them separately or as part of a “Deluxe Package” or both.


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For years now film industry professionals have been discussing the changing face of distribution. Most of the conversation has to do with the way the internet is changing consumption habits and breaking down communication barriers. Now it’s time to get the numbers to the people and help indie filmmakers, and distributors to finally understand the numbers that internet VOD is actually offering to your films. 

Distrify.com, is a service designed to help filmmakers and distributors sell their films through online communities and social networks, we meet a lot of filmmakers working on fantastic films and trying to build strategies for digital distribution. In this article we’re going to run through some stats that we pulled from our data and offer some general advice on how to deal with your digital distribution.

38% of VOD sales are referred by affiliates.

Distrify makes it easy for people to start talking about your film online when they watch your trailer - our sharing tools ensure that when people talk about your film they are also sharing a link back to your trailer and online shop. The VOD affiliate program revenue system was made to incentivise sharing and maximize profits for the rights holders. The minimum commission for fans who share and sell the film is 10%. Affiliate revenue share can be conveyed as a “share this and make $$” or as a “here’s a little thanks from the filmmaker for helping get the film out there”. Distrify makes it easy for people to embed your content on their site, blog or Facebook page, or email it to their contacts. And everywhere the film is shared, so is the point of sale. Every time it sells, the person sharing it earns a commission and the rights holder increases profits.

This was a controversial move – but the stats prove that it makes sense to pay the ‘file sharing experts’ (those who have previously resorted to piracy) for spreading movies legally. 38% of our sales are generated by affiliates.

Social Media Great For Engagement - Not So Great for VOD

Gallup says 62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. 

Our data suggests that social media is doing very little converting impressions into sales. In fact only 15% of VOD sales are coming from social media. 

We encourage to connect with influencers on social media that might have direct interest in your film to “latch on” their followers and get them to discuss and share your films. (Read the post on social influencers here)

You should also identify organisations who might want to help promote the film. They usually have large mailing lists and extra influence within the community. Further associating yourself with a respected organisation is a great way to gain extra trust from potential buyers.

How When and Where People Are Watching VOD On The Internet?

According to our cross-platform report, over the last five years, people watch on average an hour and five minutes of full feature films on demand. Tablets and smartphones are driving 39% of trailers views converting 5.2% of views to purchases, and 2.2% sales are coming from impressions referred from your film’s website. 

The dominant device for VOD is Android! 44% of trailer views are generated from Android browsers and OS. Iphone and apple devices ared driving 24% of VOD traffic. 

People are watching movies mostly on the weekend 8:00pm EST - 3:00am EST. That’s when they have time to watch full movies. So if you’re working on your marketing and distribution campaigns, aim your efforts toward Saturday and Sunday. 

Overall English speaking countries are leading VOD consumption placing the US at the top, followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada. Czech Republic has a very strong VOD market followed by Germany, India, France and Italy. If you’re thinking about subtitles, spend your money on those countries. 

Distrify is designed to make it easier to market and sell your film through the web. To find out more about how Distrify’s tools work, visit http://distrify.com and feel free to get in touch via the Help section if you have any questions.


People want to see your movie, some just don’t know it yet.

Drive valuable traffic by getting top blogs, publications and Facebook pages recommending your movie. Reach audiece that are targeted, engaged, and interested to watch your movie.

Distrify player allows bloggers, publishers and social media users to easily discover and include high quality movies on their sites.

It is essential to maximize the use of the Distrify player to increase conversion and engagement. Presentation is key and we must attempt to replicate a consistency across blogs/sites/Social Media.  

The blogger may not understand the concept of affiliate sales - we need to help them.

The following is a step-by-step instruction guide on how to get best results from Distrify affiliate player.

Bloggers, Publications: Placement and Clear Message

Post the player at the top of the page - the first thing the audience should see at the header is:

WATCH “X MOVIE” NOW!

Right under the header add how to watch films on demand description:

The HD stream is available to watch on a pay-per-view basis for $4.99 The film will be available to watch immediately. The streaming version can be accessed five times within 30 days of purchase.

 See how the Distrify player is embedded on The Guardian:

The player should be embedded underneath this and at an optimum size of 640x392. The article should start directly Underneath the player.

Facebook - Placement and Clear Message
The goal on Facebook is to distract users from other tasks and entice potential visitors to click on your video. However it’s better to place a “movie ad” and a clever hook with a direct link to where the Distrify player is embedded, than simply copy paste a video on your wall. Distrify has developed a proven and successful way to engage potential fans to watch your trailer and buy your film. We call it FEMA “Facebook Engaging Movie Ad” A great way to increase your visibility in an organic way.

The following is a step-by-step instruction guide on how to get best results from the Distrify affiliate player on Facebook.

1. Choose a compelling image from your film, and add a catchy and creative slogan. A slogan is an advertising tag-line or phrase that advertisers create to visually expresses the importance and benefits of their product, it has the ability to loan people’s time and attention. The same idea applies to your film.
Here are a few samples of how FEMA would look like:

2. At the text box insert CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW > your movie link - http.muvi.com/1234/12334  Right underneath add your short log movie description

3. Define the content, and search where your movie fans are in the Facebook space. Typecast pages you’d want to get and connect them with your movie. Search for the page’s admin, and reach out with an offer to host your FEMA and cross promote. 

Facebook audience are on numerous community pages with large followers. 
We recommend offering 10% - 25% affiliate share to large Faebook community pages.  The suggested rental price is no more than $4.99 (iTunes rate)


Our friends at The Film Collaborative have published an excellent free e-book Selling Your Film Outside the U.S (Click here to download the book for free) It takes a deep dive into distribution in Europe.  It offer marketing and crowdfunding strategies, real distribution budgets, community building activities and detailed ancillary and digital distribution revenues for independently produced films. 

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Our chapters are two a case studies, one of them written by Jon Reiss on the Scottish film I Am Breathing and how the release was run by Ben Kempas, the Producer of Marketing and Distribution hired by The Scottish Documentary Institute for all of their films. The chapter not only discusses their outreach and release strategies, but also the Portable Fundraiser technology they developed with Distrify. Here’s an excerpt from the book: 

Through Distrify alone, between October 1 and February 5, the gross VOD income, including top-up donations was $5,303. Between November 1 and February 5, DVD sales (including top-up donations) hit $5,836. 46% of all DVD purchases got topped up. Those who donated gave an average of GBP £16,16, paying on average £28.66 for their DVDs instead of the regular £12.50. 

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Another chapter is an in depth case study dedicated to film director Pawan Kumar’s Lucia and his marketing and distribution strategy. image

Click here to get your free copy.


A few weeks ago, I was invited to do an online marketing workshop in Istanbul. I had the honor to meet some brilliant local filmmaker. One of them was Ozgur Uyanik, I am going to let him tell you about his take on film marketing with a guest post.  Take it away Ozugr:

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Let’s be honest, “marketing” is a dirty word for most artists and that includes filmmakers who view themselves as creative people rather than producers of content for the entertainment of the masses. However, take it from me, it is a sobering experience to find yourself having made a movie to be left wondering how in the hell you’re going to get anyone to watch it– competing as you are with powerful Hollywood studios, streaming content on tablets and smartphones as well as TV, cable and digital platforms all vying for eyeballs and backed up with millions of dollars of marketing clout whereas you are a poor, unloved indie filmmaker who has poured their heart and soul in to a project that may never even get seen! What a nightmare. That’s why I respectfully suggest that we put aside our prejudices and start rehabilitating the art of marketing and see it as a creative tool to raise funds and find an audience for our movies.

The beginnings of any creative endeavour are frought with anxiety and guilt. I will try to ignore those and schlep along, mindful of the balance I need to strike between solitary bouts of writing and socialising/earning a living. My first feature film taught me that making movies is not just about cinema anymore. In fact, I plan to concentrate on how to sell your film rather than how to make it seeing as there are a ton of blogs about how to write a screenplay and how to direct, etc. I have worked as a development executive, sales agent, producer and writer/director in the UK film industry for over 15 years so I know something about how the overall process from pitch to screen actually works.

As filmmakers we are making content. The multiplex or the “art house” screen are only two of many outlets for this product. My debut feature-length film, called ‘Resurrecting the Street Walker’ (RTSW), went straight to DVD after a tour of film festivals and I was grateful even for that. It got seen, reviewed and passed in to obscurity.

The film serves as a good calling card but fell short of my expectations in terms of how far and wide it was distributed and after years of work and financial ruin one should be doing as much as possible to sell the film successfully using the new tools available to us in the internet age. I know that making a film is by itself exhausting, all consuming and expensive so the idea of planning, launching and executing an effective social media blitz on top of that might send many filmmakers in to a tailspin. I’m not sure you can do it completely on your own unless you already have a substantial on-line presence and plenty of fans (followers on Twitter and subscribers to your blog or Youtube channel, for example). I’m assuming you’re not famous like Zach Brath whose Kickstarter campaign exceeded its target.

Is it actually possible to build an audience from scratch using social media for very little cost to draw one’s target audience to your end product (self-distribution) or to your crowd funding campaign? RTSW went the traditional route by being picked up by a UK distributor who then paid some money to a marketing company and put a few ads in the newspapers. The on-line portion of the campaign contributed, frankly, nothing to sales. Not enough people had seen it or been engaged by it. The key part of that sentence are the words “engaged by it”.

We tried all sorts of things for RTSW on-line and I’ll go in to How Not To Do It in later posts but lessons were learnt and I was so unhappy with my experience on the failed internet campaign that I jumped at the chance to attend an on-line marketing course in Istanbul recently. It was organised by the European Women’s Audiovisual (EWA) Network (men are welcome to join too) in conjunction with Turkey’s Production Lab (Yapım Lab) run by Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan. We were very ably and generously tutored in the dark arts of social media, search engine optimisation and crowd funding by Kobi Shely and Andy Green from Distrify as well as receiving valuable contributions from other speakers on subjects such as branding by Cheryl D. Miller.

It is daunting when everything in the digital world of content consumption is changing so fast and a feature film takes typically between three to five years to produce if you’re lucky.  So I have decided to embrace the world of rich media and am going to be taking a– in old world/analogue parlance– a “multi-media” approach to my next project and I am planning to blog about the progress we make or don’t make. You’ll probably learn something either way, as will I.

I have also been part of projects that had incredibly well-planned and successful on-line campaigns so I know, as a keen bystander, how it is supposed to be done and boy is it a lot of hard work! The people behind this particular campaign had the knowledge, tools and dedication to make it work for them. They toiled as a team for many months in the run-up, before the campaign officially launched and it demonstrated for me the importance of doing the groundwork before you start reaching out to potential audiences and the mysterious world of “influencers”, “calls to action” and “ranking pages”.


According to iab study mobile devices play an important role for moviegoers. Fifty-six percent of moviegoers say they use their mobile phones to learn more about movie and entertainment options. For filmmakers there is a tremendous opportunity to engage with their targeted audience with not only mobile but also the latest technologies available to mobile. Doing so would present new possibilities for you to make your film stand out from the rest of the crowd.

The capabilities of mobile applications and cutting-edge platforms are continuing to expand, harnessing ambient data such as location, user movements, schedule, user habits and engagement. Accordingly, filmmakers are presented with the opportunity to create more advanced and targeted marketing campaigns.

Remember not all screens were created equal, we need to think about each screen’s interactivity with our users / audience. 

Learn more about mobile distribution and marketing with this presentation available for you online. 

Subscribe to our newsletter to get more advanced tips for all your digital filmmaking needs.


Our chairman David Wilkinson with some great honest tips for your indie filmmakers

Three years ago in Cannes I met a really charming young filmmaker. He had spent the best part of a week trying to track me down but I was very busy in endless screenings, meetings and on a few panels. He was so persistent but in a pleasant way, so many are not.

We sat in the UK Pavilion and he pitched his project. He had spent a long time producing this and mortgaged his flat or his parents had, I forget which, in order to finish it. I promised I would attend the screening back in London.

It was held in one of the more obscure screening rooms out of the 30 or so the capital offers. This fact but more likely the subject matter meant the only other distributors, out 35-40 companies just 4 of us turned up.

The subject – it was a mockumentary !!

Why oh why oh why do people still make these. Yes a few have worked- MAN BITES DOG, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE IS SPINAL TAP, BOB ROBERTS but there have been thousands of them made over the years and they very, very rarely work. It does not matter how good they are, unless they are by star directors and/ or have well known actors i.e. proper stars not someone who was in a soap or fifth billed in a Hollywood movie of yesteryear. Any of you thinking about one really needs to talk to a number of sales agents and domestic distributors before embarking this type of production. And listen. How many don’t listen.

The trouble is that, by and large, sales agents don’t want them because distributors don’t want them. Distributors don’t want them because broadcasters don’t want them. Broadcasters don’t want them because the public doesn’t want them.

No one wants to buy chicken breasts cooked in Dettol sauce but they will buy chicken breasts cooked in white wine sauce.

I had a meeting over the weekend with a talent filmmaker ( judging by his 6 shorts films), who is hell bent on making a mockumentary even though I and so very many others have said it is a huge mistake.

I said why would be we say it would not work if we did not think that.

“ Because you are wrong and nobody knows anything”

Yes they do. It’s why William Goldman originator of that statement used to be paid $1-2 million per script because he DOES know something. He knows what works and what does not. In today’s market he would not be daft enough to write a mockumentary.

Sales agents and distributors do. They are selling everyday. We are at the coal face. This filmmaker had spoken to 15 companies who have all told him the same thing.

So M&S, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Asda etc, etc, etc. not wanting Dettol cooked chicken would be them not knowing what the market wants ? In this instance this filmmakers logic would have the rejectee produce it himself and selling it over the internet ? NO ONE IS GOING TO BUY IT IN THE SHOPS – NO ONE IS GOING TO BUY IT OVER THE INTERNET.

What happens with so many of these film is that the producers end up being their own domestic distributor and international sales agent.

Then 5 years down the line they go on some panel and blame UK distributors and sales agents for not supporting them.

Its simple really -just make something for which there is a market.

This young man I met three summers ago learnt a very good lesson but far too late and far, far too painfully. Sadly.

I will be seeing him Cannes again soon………


Watch the full presentation on online film marketing here

Marketing strategies serve as the fundamental underpinning of film marketing designed to reach objectives. Plans and objectives are generally tested for measurable results.

It takes 1-3 years to produce a film, it takes another 1-3 years to market. A film, like any other product needs to reach its target audience to be successful, a marketing strategy that we can measure and optimize is a fundamental roadmap to achieve our goals.

A typical online marketing plan includes:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)  
  • Content Creation
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Influencers
  • Video and Visual Marketing
  • Mobile Distribution Tools
  • Data Analysis and optimization

Understand Your Audience and Opportunities
There are a few ways you need to think about how your audience could be looking for your film. Always remember a simple marketing equation:  

Content = Traffic
Traffic = Sales

Here’s the main categories for a typical film marketing strategy:

SEO
When I was marketing my film one of the ways I grew my users to millions was using Google. Specifically via people searching for relevant terms and clicking through to the film’s site. The documentary I produced was about the Apple fanboy culture, so I knew I needed to track my audience like an NSA pro (Without knowing that the NSA is tracking me… it was 2007 me and Angela had no clue) You might imagine that my audience weren’t just documentary diehard fans, there are about five of them, they were also tech enthusiast fans, and there are millions of them all over the digital sphere.

As head of marketing at Distrify, my goal was to reach to millions of potential viewers to watch movies online and pay for them. I wanted to help filmmakers to get their films watched and build their audience.  It was clear that we needed to get creative and we set out to increase traffic by generating “leads”, people who will watch trailers and convert to paying viewers.

You keep hearing about building an audience, if it’s for a Kickstarter campaign, or for your film. But how do you do that with a limited budget? Well you need to start thinking as a marketing person, you need to know your customers, where they live, how to reach them, what pages they are visiting and how to get them to your site.

If you didn’t reserve third of your budget for marketing than you’ll need to work full time with limited resources. But that’s okay, that’s why we have our time and creative talents at our disposal. 

Content Creation
Creating content is simple, creating engaging content is much difficult. What kind of content should filmmakers create? Behind the scenes, outtakes, and free music tracks? Nobody cares. I usually get a lot of questions if adding behind the scene stuff and other DVD type bonus, can get the film selling more copies, the answer is no, DVD is pretty much dead, and the bonus features went to the grave with it. So what type of organic content should we be creating?
 
Just writing blog posts won’t help, the content truly has to help or teach your ideal audience.  Let’s think what is valuable for our audience, but let’s also think what is valuable for your influencers. Influencers are those who generate traffic by the thousands, you’ll find them in forms of popular blogs, social media leaders and big publishers. I’ll talk about influencers, but keep that in mind.

Leveraging Social Media
Filmmakers that attended different distribution seminars and conferences, likely have heard they need to build a huge followers list on all social media platforms like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. While numbers are important, the reality is that only 10% of your page or profile followers will be exposed to your posts. Marketers estimate that the number will drop to 1% in 2014. Building a huge social followers, may be important for prestige, but we need to be leveraging social media to our advantage by thinking outside the box. Social media marketing decisively impacts how trailers are seen and shared.

Content creation and marketing have direct implications for your SEO performance — especially in light of Google’s latest algorithm updates. It’s important that we think of the three pillars of online marketing — SEO, content and social media — as a system that works synergistically to increase visibility, build our brand and ultimately garner viewers and sales.

Influencers
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 
Filmmakers could have the most brilliant content on the net, but it’ll never translate into traffic if they you don’t distribute and leverage that content properly. The best way you to maximize exposure and value: Reaching out to influencers. In my next post I’ll go over these:

  • Who is an influencer and what’s his value?
  • Access the followings of others
  • How to build relationships with influencers
  • How to work with niche forums
  • Outbound guest blogging
  • Publication Content to generate high exposure and traffic
  • Organizations outreach

Video and Visual Marketing
An estimated 63% of social media comprises imagery. As such, visual platforms are playing an increasing role in social media for businesses. One study found that 29 percent of Pinterest users bought an item after posting or re-pinning it on the network.

Video content is also hotter than ever, with the addition of networks like Vine and Instagram featuring microvideos. Infographics are another effective promotion tool for film with stories to tell. When you think about visual marketing, take into consideration:

  • Visual images to attract attention to your trailers
  • Youtube ads, fan finder, short content channels
  • Call to action, encourage sharing and engagement
  • Viewers are more receptive to authentic, personal messages. Think about ways to bring your film’s message to life, and show how your film makes a difference.
  • New Interactive videos techniques to encourage influencers sharing
  • Reach mass audience with the Distrify trailer and call for actions

Mobile Distribution
For filmmakers there is a tremendous opportunity to engage with their targeted audience with not only mobile but also the latest technologies available to mobile. Doing so would present new possibilities for you to make your film stand out from the rest of the crowd. The capabilities of mobile applications and cutting-edge platforms are continuing to expand, harnessing ambient data such as location, user movements, schedule, user habits and engagement. Accordingly, we are presented with the opportunity to create more advanced and targeted marketing campaigns. 

Data Analysis and optimization
In the end our marketing strategy translate to analytics—related to your revenue, website, traffic, and audience. Tracking metrics such as video views, traffic, affiliate referrals, geographic performance is pretty much a given. But how do we sort out the noise and get a clear understanding how to optimize results and understand our data?

I’ll be sure to share a lot of  valuable data from the course in my next post.