Filmmakers have always had to find new and innovative ways to make money from their movies. In the digital age, people have become reliant on viewing their media at their convenience with services like Netflix and Hulu – making distribution an evolving beast for the film industry to tackle. And, more importantly, where does that leave the independent filmmaker who has a hard enough time trying to distribute their film and bring in money for the next one? With Vimeo On Demand, they might actually have a chance.
After launching during the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, the creators of the webseries High Maintenance chose to use Vimeo On Demand to distribute their show. Since its debut in 2012, the series has garnered more than 5 million views. According to an article from Vimeo’s staffs, had the webseries launched on Youtube, it would’ve taken them two years to earn the kind of revenue they earned in two days utilizing Vimeo’s On Demand service. Other content that has been successful thanks to this model are shows like Video Game High School along with several features like Beauty is Embarrassing, We are Legion, and Spike Lee’s horror film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.
In order to utilize its service, content creators have to be Vimeo Pro-Users, and they still have to be proactive in their marketing in the film or web series. Trailers must be made. Posters must be created. An attention-grabbing synopsis needs to be on display. Their content site must be slick, eye-catching, and inviting. Even more so, engagement with your audience is key. The principles that apply to most film and television media still apply in this new digital platform.
Once the filmmaker has created a marketable page for their film, content creators maintain control over the price of their content, which ranges from $1 to $500. In addition, creators are given the option of allowing users to purchase or rent their content — allowing for separate pricing. Content creators keep 90% of the revenue gained from the rentals or purchases of the film. To have a good estimate of what they can make off of their film on Vimeo On Demand, Vimeo has introduced a sliding calculator.
More recently, Vimeo has added an additional function: subscriptions. This would allow for users to subscribe to a channel for repeated views as opposed to purchasing specific videos for downloads or renting for one-time viewing.
For content creators just starting out in the business, Vimeo On Demand may be a way to start building an audience, earn revenue, and begin gathering the attention necessary to get the backing you need for future projects.