Film site aims to help promotion
Prime Minister John Key's faith in the Hollywood elite may be misplaced if a new Kiwi start-up company's fix for the "broken" film distribution model gets traction.
Hamilton-based web developer David White's IndieReign.com website is designed to allow independent film-makers to promote and distribute their films themselves, rather than hoping Warner Brothers might come knocking.
The one-year-old start up has had about $500,000 in funding from Kiwi investor Phil McCaw (one of the original investors in Trade Me) and his investment company Movac.
IndieReign will list independent films for online streaming "rental" or download purchase, and allows film-makers to set their own minimum prices and customers to pay as much as they like.
The website already has about 70 films available and is constantly uploading more from a recently-secured 1000 film back-catalogue from international film distribution companies Vanguard Cinema and Cinify.
The website hopes to benefit from the availability of low cost film-making technology as well as the increased viewing of online content on tablets, laptops and home flatscreens, as opposed to movie theatres.
White said he was supportive of Key's recent trip to Hollywood to visit executives from the major film studios, but there were huge changes coming in the film industry.
The likes of Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop had broken ground for Kiwi companies in the American film industry and made it much easier for companies like his to get noticed, said White.
But he believed Silicon Valley's open, sharing and constructive attitude would eventually win out over Hollywood's "locked-down" industry structure which effectively stifled innovation and encouraged piracy to some degree.
"The big dream [for film-makers] is to be up in a theatre, but it's just not going to happen," said White, quoting the statistic that only 1 per cent of films made around the globe will get theatrical distribution deals.
"Technology enables anyone to make a film with a $3000 camera and a computer, and now crowd-funding enables them to get the budget to make a fairly decent film, and hopefully Indie Reign fulfils that last piece of the puzzle which is selling the film."
For example, Indie Reign uses Facebook to enable its film-makers to link their social media promotional activity to an all-in-one e-commerce site for their finished movie product.
An Indie Reign film trailer posted to Facebook has a transactional link embedded in it which means anyone who watches can immediately and easily purchase the full version.
And they might pay as little as $1.99 for it, or if they're more inclined to show they're support for independent films they can throw in a few extra dollars over the asking price.
White and his Indie Reign team clip the ticket on the way through.
Kiwi independent film producer Michael McLachlan knows how difficult it is to get a distribution deal. His first feature film Hidden wasn't released until five years after it was shot.
He then took it to 12 international festivals where it won four top awards, only to be passed over by international distributors.
McLachlan realised there must be a better way and when he heard about Indie reign he jumped on board as its film acquisition manager.
He said the distribution model was "broken", but believed Indie Reign would make it much easier for 'indie' film makers to find their niche in the world and make a living from film.
White has been developing the website and testing its market for a year and is now ready to unleash its business model, with capacity to up-scale quickly if the idea takes off.
McCaw, who is chairman of the start up, said he would be providing another half a million dollars in the next funding round and was looking for another investor to match it.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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