2014 has been a year of massive change within the Independent Film Industry on the marketing and distribution front. DIY Filmmaking has been a reality for the past 10 plus years. However, we’ve been lulled into a false belief that distribution via the emerging Internet and Digital platforms for Indies is the Holy Grail. In the early stages of growth, these platforms had to stock the shelves, yet didn’t have the critical mass to garner studio level titles. Thus, they turned to the least expensive and easiest to acquire content… Indie Film.
However, they must now satisfy audiences in the tens to hundreds of millions and support multi-billion dollar bottom lines. Films that appeal to tens of thousands don’t warrant the space on their servers much less support marketing. The platforms are declining new acquisitions, slashing thousands of titles from their servers, ending output deals as they’re up for renewal, and moving more and more to TV content, specifically originally produced, exclusive content. Aggregators are exiting the business in droves no longer to even earn back their onboarding costs. Social Networks, which were thought to be the marketing savior for the Independent Filmmaker have also become Studio domain. The day the social networks went public and had to start generating revenue, Algorithms were re-written, positioning the companies with the deepest pocketbooks as the favored competitors. These networks are now little more than digital billboards.
There’s more content being produced than ever before in history, but proportionately not more quality content. We’ve gone from approximately 12,000 films a year being produced to more than 50,000 films per year, not including TV programming and short form internet videos. Instead of 50 respectable film festivals, there are now over 5,000 and growing daily. Thousands of content Apps are appearing and competing for your attention. The noise in the marketplace is overwhelming. To boot, the majority of marketing and promotion is falling to the filmmakers and for the lucky few, boutique distributors. On this unequal battlefield between Indie’s with thousands to spend, and studios with tens of millions to spend, we can guess what the outcome will be in head to head marketing. So, what does this mean for great Independent Films?
It’s time for a parallel universe to emerge… A place where you can discover, engage, watch, and share great Independent Films! Studio films have a place in our lives in the same way Vons or Safeway serve the majority of our dietary needs. They easily satisfy our basic needs, we get what we came for with few surprises, and they serve the masses. However, they rarely provide a special experience, a sense of excitement, or an experience beyond our expectation. In the middle are Trader Joes and Whole Foods, the food equivalent to Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company films (aka Studio Films independently financed for a lower budget, but still with A-listers). On the other hand, the farmer’s market offers a unique experience that’s social, exciting, interactive, and satisfying. The major studios make and market tent pole films better than anyone in the world. But when you want a more intimate, high quality, interactive, and thoughtful experience, come to Film Festival Flix. The grocery store chain and farmer’s market co-exist beautifully side-by-side. Let us be your resource for great films from around the world that you may not be aware of.
We value you. We value your time. We value the artists who devote years of their lives to bring you these great films.
Have a Happy Holidays! Cherish the Independent Thinkers in your life.
We look forward to seeing you in 2015!
Benjamin C. Oberman