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Simple, rough plan for an indie distro & marketing company that could serve 1,000 clients/real indie feature projects in Year 1 & make $500K profit

This was a very long comment written for this post at Truly Free Film blog (also related to this post at this blog), but due to it's length, I couldn't leave it at the TFF blog's comments section, so here it is:

"Hey David from,

I just signed up for your info alert. Good luck with the new venture.

Anyway, to all: would most indie filmmakers pay $1000 a year (that's about $84 a month) to make sure someone promoted & distributed on a regular basis (even passively distributed - made available to interested customers & or free viewers in whatever media) their $10K or so indie feature? Probably, I know I probably would - specially if the distro work being paid for brings in either some useful exposure & or more than $1K in sales (over 100 DVDs at $10 each would do that).

So, let's say 1000 filmmakers buy into such a service (a company promoting their finished real indie features on a regular - daily or weekly - basis all year long for $1K a year), that would mean a $1 million revenue stream for that company.

So the company now has 1000 real indie films to promote & sell. And it would be good for the company if their clients - the indie filmmakers - were able to make more than $1K a year because of their services - 'cause that way the filmmakers are not losing money on retaining this distro & marketing service & would most likely continue their account w/ the company the following year. So who do the company sell the 1,000 films to. I guess they are looking at a possibly significant chunk of the wired population in the US (for web marketing & sales) & anyone with a mail box (for mail order DVDs), & possibly people on the web in other English speaking countries, & possibly other developed countries in general, if the films have subtitles, etc (also possibly non-western countries, but maybe that would take more work, with currency exchange rates & censorship issues, etc. that would probably require a more tweaked model).So, basically, this hypothetical indie distro & marketing company has the challenge of selling/trying to sell copies (digital or physical) of 1,000 movies to perhaps 100 million (in the US) to a half a billion (in the western world) potential customers.

How much might it cost to do such a thing & make a profit?

Who knows? But perhaps $500,000 would be a good start - for year 1. 'cause if a company that has that much $s are able to secure 1,000 clients who pay $1000 each a year for their services & are also (the company is able to) able to accomplish their marketing & distro work for less than $500K for 1 year, then they will not lose money in year 1 but will make $500K that year (i think i am doing the math right here, right? - raise & spend $500K & make $1 million = 100% profit? - i think so).

Anyway, that's just a very rough scenario. I think there is a sufficient amount of money being raised & spent in real indie film production in the US for 1 or several excellent (able to accomplish the task well) indie marketing & distro companies to make money by making as many of those indie movies available for sale as possible. On top of that, they need to widely market the films that they represent/distribute (non-exclusive, this distributor/company that I am thinking of would be like a distributor for hire, they make money from fees paid to them by indie filmmakers/the owners of the films that they represent - this company would just market, facilitate sales, maybe even take care of fulfilment - digital & physical, etc.).

Anyway, lots more details where those came from, if anyone is interested.

Also, such a distro company could also be formed by oh maybe 100 to 500 filmmakers & other interested people coming together - at least for the financing part - each investing $1K each to get the business up & running = $100K - $500K start up $s. The actual running of the company will need to be done by competent people who are very enthusiastic about the work, not necessarily the filmmaker/investors (though, being the owners & funders of the company, they will have the ultimate say in things).

So that's just one possible way to go to solve the real indie distro & marketing problem by using a for-profit (& relatively) small company approach.

Oh, the marketing done by the company cannot just be web only - it needs to be done through all possible media & methods. Maybe start with web & build up to other media quickly. I don't think the real indie distro options - the few companies who do that kind of work now - advertise & or market enough at this point (probably cause it is expensive or time consuming = expensive, but, that's where a lot of that $500K start up cash would probably come in handy).

So, bottom line, I think it is possible to create a profitable marketing & distribution business with real indie filmmakers as clients and with the success metrics including the clients making a profit from the fee paid to the company (or the company facilitating perhaps 200 sales of $10 each = $2K a year per project, client doubles the $s spent) & or other measurable indicators such as press coverage, getting work for hire gigs due to work done on behalf of the filmmaker client by the company, etc.

The numbers involved for this model are: 1000 filmmaker clients pay $1000 each a year for the company's services (being marketing & selling 1 feature film per client) = $1 million in revenue for the company, & the company, in turn, attempt to market & sell the 1000 projects to a potential customer base of 100 million + people (in the US & elsewhere), in an attempt to secure at least 200 sales of $10 each for each of their clients = clients get $2000, or they double their money, and if the company can accomplish this service for $500K a year, they would make a profit of $500K. Everyone wins :)

There can be many different approaches to how the above mentioned company does its work & makes $s for the clients - the above mentioned approach is just one simple one.
And, most importantly, to make sure the customers win, the 1,000 projects selected for year 1 of the company would each have to be considered interesting or entertaining or good or something along those lines by at least a few thousand people who are willing to pay $s to see it.
Let me stop here before Ted kicks me out for taking up too much comment space :)"

- Sujewa




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