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What's the status of internet VOD Jonathan? :: A mini-interview with GreenCine's Jonathan Marlow

There is one up-and-coming field of indie film/film distribution where the no/low-budget filmmaker/distributor may be able to rule (or at least have a fair chance of competing well in), and that is internet VOD (video on demand). Doing D.I.Y. theatrical screenings & tours is a lot of work, & can get expensive, and the range/how many places the film can be delivered to in a short period of time - can be very limited. Same for playing the festival circuit. Even hawking the DVD can get expensive, 'cause you may have to buy a lot of ads in the non-web world to let a lot of people know about the existence of the DVD. Internet VOD should be far less work & far less expensive to use as a distribution method - customers can pay $s through the web & the film can be delivered to them through the web, and blogging & reviews can create free publicity for movies that are available through internet VOD. But what is the current state of internet VOD? Are filmmakers making a significant amount of money through internet VOD yet? I asked Jonathan Marlow, the director of content acquisitions and business development of GreenCine, which is, according to them: "...the #1 online shop and source for film addicts. Boasting one of the largest libraries of independent, international and documentary films in the world, GreenCine offers more than 80,000 titles over 250 genres for download, rent or sale. With a diverse and ever-expanding community of members, GreenCine is the #1 destination for film discovery, debate and information." And they have an awesome blog. Here is my mini-interview with Marlow re: the state of internet VOD:


Sujewa: There is a lot of talk right now on the web about downloading feature films through the web being the future of indie film distribution. But isn't that already here? Hasn't GreenCine been successfully selling indie features through Video-on-Demand, to the customer's computer, for some time now?

Marlow: It depends on how you define "success." While independent filmmakers were certainly able to digitally distribute their films from the moment we launched our VOD service in 2003, the audience still prefers to watch these films in a theatre or, failing that, on television. For the majority of filmmakers here and elsewhere around the world, theatrical distribution opportunities have significantly decreased over the past decade (except for festival screenings). TV has become the most likely avenue to discover these works since, unsurprisingly, watching feature films on a computer monitor hardly registers as a feasible choice for most folks. Until there is a seamless method to bridge the home computer and the living room television, the numbers for VOD will continue to be relatively small compared to video or theatrical royalties. Fortunately, that bridge isn't far off -- "early adopters" crossed the PC-to-TV barrier long ago. We continue to collaborate with our technology partners to make this option easily possible for the rest of the potential audience as well.

But I digress. For a filmmaker to consider on-demand delivery to be a real success, it needs to represent more than a supplemental revenue source for their work. It needs to become the primary source, lucrative enough to allow the person to continue making films. Ideally, within the next eight months, we will finally see a real "hit" in the VOD space.


Thanks Jonathan!

- Sujewa


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