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By Roger Jackson
Previously: How to Avoid Rejection
I’m in London talking to most of the UK video-on-demand outlets. Being English myself doesn’t seem to confer any advantages. It may even cause suspicion — the Brit who abandoned ship and washed up in sunny California, and now he wants our business…screw him. That’s still the attitude here, at least among some. LOVEFiLM (yes, that’s how they write the name) just told me that while they’ll happily ingest KinoNation films, they’re much more interested in — and focused on — television content. I like that level of honesty, and I’m not surprised. The lion’s share of VoD revenue on platforms like Netflix, Hulu and LOVEFiLM right now is being generated by TV shows, rather than movies. But movies on demand is still a big — and growing — business. Big enough for us to disrupt! [...]
By Roger Jackson
Previously: Video-on-Demand Sales Tips
Distributing the Betas
We’ve started delivering films to video-on-demand outlets. That may not sound like much — we could have done it 3 months ago by sending them a hard drive. But these are highly complex — and automated — deliveries, with literally hundreds of variables in the transcode presets, the type of poster image, the metadata fields, the trailer, the subtitles or closed captions…an error in any element will get the film rejected by the very rigorous Quality Control (QC) at the outlets. We’re impatient to get the films live so we can share some links with you — but we’re sanguine also. Even after a film gets to Amazon or iTunes or any other outlet it can take up to 90 days to go live — like it or not, that’s the reality we face.
Greek, Spanish & English
We decided to use a foreign film — the stunning Greek drama DOS — as our very first delivery. It looks stunning, every outlet has ordered it, and DOS is a great “use case” since it involves three languages. It’s a Greek film — set in Spain — with English subtitles. [...]
By Roger Jackson
Previously: Searching for Green Card
It’s now exactly 6 months since we started building KinoNation. We’re very close — a month or so — from opening the platform to the world. We now have deals with all the major US video-on-demand outlets, plus several non-US outlets. And doing more deals every week. There are never less than 2 films being uploaded to us at any time, and we have well over 100 movies in the Private Beta. We’ll have a representative at Berlinale and the European Film Market next week, and I’ll be in London in the spring to cement a series of deals with VoD outlets and content owners there. We have big — but also realistic — plans for 2013.
So I now feel moderately qualified to give advice on how to make a film stand out from the crowd — and it’s VERY crowded — in the world of video-on-demand. It’s all too common for filmmakers to pour time and money and passion into making a film, and then fall short on some basic sales elements. Video-on-demand platforms are remarkably similar to video stores. Both are segmented by film genres, and both have lots of titles arranged in some sort of grid — whether online or on-demand TV or on store shelves — that encourage consumers to scan dozens or even hundreds of titles quite rapidly. And then move on. So you have to grab audience attention within a couple of seconds. That’s not much time. [...]
By Roger Jackson
Previously: New Year Update
Less of a diary post this time, more of a rumination on Hollywood, video-on-demand, and long-tail movies. Klaus and I decided to build KinoNation because we want to make it super-easy for indie filmmakers to distribute their films to the medium that is rapidly replacing DVD. Along the way we’ve come to realise there are also many well known films that remain almost impossible to watch “on demand” — fuelling consumer frustration that can often only be solved by breaking the law.
Last week was a big day for Klaus‘s wife — Malona had her final interview with the Feds for her Green Card. It all worked out, green card approved, and she wanted to celebrate that evening with a family viewing of the classic movie Green Card. [...]
Is there a model where both can further film culture, audience development, and overall cinema appreciation? With very few critics left with a mass market soap box, where do we turn for curation? With a global onslaught of 50,000 feature films generated per year, how do we connect with the films that are best for us? When audiences enjoy cinema in any form, they are far more apt to engage with more film soon after? Is there a model that leads to a a win/win for everyone?
MUBI recently announced a partnership with Picturehouse Theaters where members get 90 days free access on MUBI. One wonders if there are similar deals to be done with online aggregators and exhibitors in the US… [...]
Previously: How KinoNation Works
What a difference a year makes. This time in 2012 I was working for an humanitarian assistance NGO, just back from a village solar power project in Tajikistan, and about to fly to West Africa to set up a veterinary aid project in Mauritania. That contract ended in July, and by August I was fully committed to online film distribution and KinoNation. Quite a contrast.
We’ve been on a “coding sprint” throughout the holidays to hit our planned “soft-launch” later this month. Klaus and our software team have been doing what developers in start-ups do — writing code into the early hours. I usually work past midnight, but there’s always a twinge of guilt when I get up and see the emails that have flown back and forth at 4 in the morning. [...]
By Roger Jackson
Previously: Film Marketing Tools
Train to Stockholm
We get amazing indie films submitted to KinoNation almost every day to our Private Beta launch. Here’s one that’s beautifully shot, with a theme of cross-border connectivity that will, I think, appeal to many video-on-demand platforms. Keep submitting movies!
As we close in on year’s end — and 4 months work on KinoNation — I thought I’d share some lessons we’ve learned that really apply, I think, both to startup ventures AND to indie filmmaking. They seem obvious to me with hindsight, but they weren’t obvious when we started just a few months ago. [...]