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March 19 at 8:30am

Diary of a Film Startup: Post # 23: Countdown to Launch

By Ted Hope

By Roger Jackson

Previously: Outlet Soup

Countdown to Launch

We’re getting close to the launch of KinoNation, when we’ll remove the beta login requirement, open the service to all filmmakers, announce to the press, etc. Probably early April. Yesterday we released to our 100+ beta testers the latest version of the film uploader and metadata capture. It’s now much slicker and easier to upload, and we can capture a huge amount of essential metadata that’s required by the video-on-demand outlets. For example, we need four hi-resolution poster images in various sizes and aspect ratios, in order to meet the different delivery specs of iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, et al. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record: if you want people to discover and watch your film, you should be prepared to invest time (and maybe cash) on really great poster art. And it must be highly readable. That’s easy when it’s a full size poster on the side of a bus shelter. More difficult when it’s this size. Even tougher when it’s this size. Think big title, bold & arresting art — an image and title so compelling that consumers just HAVE to click.

DOS Delivered

So we’ve been using the film DOS as our delivery test for Amazon, Viewster, iTunes, Hulu. It’s a great test case, since it’s a Greek film set in Barcelona, with dialog in both Spanish and Greek. So for Amazon we had to automatically burn-in the English subtitles. Whereas Hulu need the video “clean” with the subtitles as a .srt file. And for Viewster (which is in 120 countries) we delivered three subtitle files — English, Spanish and Greek. We’ve built KinoNation to make it super-simple for filmmakers to create and upload subtitles or audio dubs, so their valuable asset can be sold in multiple countries and languages. DOS is now live on ad-supported Viewster and getting watched and reviewed already…and generating revenue. Yesterday we heard from Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime that the custom encode and metadata for DOS passed their 14 day Quality Control (QC) process. So now we start delivering the next batch of films to them — 10 at a time until all our beta films are live! And we just re-delivered a new Hulu custom transcode of DOS after we failed their QC process last week. Of course, once our transcode, metadata, image and delivery “presets” are correct for each platform, then the system can endlessly deliver films that should almost always pass — that’s what computers do so well. And that’s the reason we’re so rigid about our film upload specs and metadata requirements — we can only package & distribute high quality films when we get tip-top inputs to begin with. Meanwhile, thanks to DOS filmmaker Stathis Athanasiou. While we’ve been using his film as a guinea pig, he’s been busy raising money for his new film “Alpha.” He just blew through his 60,000 Euros goal on IndieGoGo. Making Alpha the first fully funded crowd-funding campaign for a feature film in Greece — and only the second (after the epic Cosmonaut) in Europe.Well done, Stathis and team!

More Deals

We’ve been busy negotiating deals with more VoD outlets. SnagFilms. The new Technicolor-Dreamworks platform, M-GO. MySkreen in France. Virgin and HMV-on-Demand in the UK. There’s a couple hundred outlets globally, so it’ll be an on-going process. So far no one has turned us down. We were delighted to see the launch last week of a very promising VoD outlet — Vimeo on Demand. I suspect many filmmakers will pay the $200 a year to participate, and upload their films directly, but if we can figure out a deal we’ll also offer distribution to them as an option on the KinoNation outlets menu.

Press, Parnerships, etc.

What else has been happening? We had some nice media coverage after a press release by Swiss-based Viewster. And a series of meetings with mini-major Relativity Media to discuss the possibility of a strategic partnership. We now have an online help forum powered by UserVoice, so filmmakers can ask questions and get answers from the KinoNation community as well as from the KN team. And I scheduled a trip to San Francisco in May to participate in the SF Film Festival as one of the distribution consultants at the innovative 3 day “Artists to Entrepreneurs” program. Followed immediately by a trip to London to meet with LOVEFiLM, Netflix UK, BlinkBox and others.

Keep submitting feature films and docs — the private beta invite is here.

Next Up: Post # 24: Comparison Shopping

Roger Jackson is a producer and the co-founder of film distribution start-up KinoNation. He was Vice President, Content for digital film pioneer iFilm.com and has produced short films in Los Angeles, documentaries in Darfur, Palestine and Bangladesh, a reality series for VH1 and one rather bad movie for FuelTV. You can reach him at roger@kinonation.com.

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86 Comments

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