Is VOD a Good Idea For Your Indie Film?

What is VOD? Video-On-Demand. This means that a film is released online instead of in theaters. There is also something called Day-and-Date release, which means a film is released on VOD and in theaters simultaneously. So as an indie filmmaker, this raises the question, “Is VOD a good idea for your film’s release?” The answer? Yes, and no…

So why is VOD a good idea? If you are an independent filmmaker and you want to get your film out there and noticed, why wouldn’t it be a good idea? It’s a lot cheaper than a theatrical release deal and viewers can watch your film from the comfort of their homes. Some filmmakers believe that this is the future of film distribution. There are even numbers to back it up. MarketsAndMarkets.com reported that the VOD market will be worth over $61 Billion by 2019. All good things. So why would it be a bad idea to release your film via VOD? Well for starters, theater owners hate it.

John Fithian, president/CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners mentioned in an interview with Deadline that VOD services like Netflix will destroy cinema like they have with the DVD industry. In theater owners’ minds, if a consumer has a choice to watch a recently released film in a theater or at home, their obvious choice would be to watch at home. So what does all this mean for you? It means that many theaters will not do a deal with you if you plan on carrying out a Day-and-Date release for your film. I know it’s bad news, but there may be hope…

AlamoDrafthouseMost independently owned and operated theaters will indeed support you. Founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Tim League, recently told Indiewire “I do wish more theaters would be open to supporting day and date releases for indie films”. League also mentions, “I am open to this for small movies by small distributors who don’t have the budget for a massive national P&A spend. We have proven that model can work for the right film.”

So this distribution method Has been proven to work, but for the “right” film. So what exactly determines if your film is “right” or not? Film Festivals. If a film is a big hit at a film festival it will typically be a VOD success. Not everyone can attend film festivals, but everyone hears about the great films that pass through. When (and if) a film festival hit gets released in theaters, it’s most likely going to be a limited release in very few theaters for a short time. Adding a VOD to these releases would definitly not be a bad idea at all.

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In conclusion, VOD is a good idea for your indie film in certain conditions. Make sure your film already has a little buzz. Either via film festivals or star power. It also has to be a limited theatrical release. Theater owners will be happy with the exclusivity. This will also attract viewers who want to but cannot attend one of the few theaters.

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