So, I flipped the switch and my feature length documentary is now available on SVOD. Right now that’s Amazon Prime, but hopefully some other platforms will pick it up.
I worked a year an a half on this movie, and now people can see it for basically free. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever produced. It’s not perfect. But it ain’t bad either. In the target audience, it has been well received.
But entering SVOD is scary…
Why is it scary?
Most people don’t think much about his much the indie films they watch cost to make. They don’t care if a studio make their investment back. They don’t think about whether an indie film might make it back. It just doesn’t enter their mind.
But as a filmmaker who both raised and invested his own money, I think about it. A lot.
In an ideal world, my film would make back enough to fund the next one. in a realistic world, I’d like to break even. That means it as to earn enough revenues to recoup everything it cost of get it out there. That’s where windowing comes in.
Big movies launch in theaters, then go to digital TVOD for a while, then physical media, then later it hits SVOD. Self distributed movies may have physical copies, but some, like mine, are only available via digital. So there’s a TVOD window and then an SVOD window.
it’s a balancing act to decide when to switch windows. It’s hard to get people spend money to see an indie film. It’s easier to get them to try one on a subscription service. But the royalty difference between TVOD and SVOD shows just how much easier it is.
I thought long and hard about this issue. I don’t know if it will ever make the money it cost to create back. (That stinks) I do know that I found a really good audience to advertise too. But none of them were tipped into spending cash when I ran the “funnel.” And industry people say that SVOD is where the views are, not TVOD. My own unscientific survey also showed that people my spend money on indie film, but would prefer to watch on a subscription service.
So it makes sense to move it here.
But based on the Amazon royalty for my film right now means that it takes 12 Prime views to equal one $1.99 rental. So to make more money, I have to find 12 people interested enough to watch the film for every person I would have found who would have rented it. This audience better be a good one. Preliminary results are good, but I’m also running ads to drive viewers to the site.
It’s easier to make more movies if you have a track record of success and funds from that success to launch you. SVOD has a long tail, but it’s also the last window… (lumping Advertiser supported VOD in)
Comments and odd reviews
SVOD attracts weird reviews and comments.
When a film is in TVOD a viewer has to really want to see it. Unless it’s just terrible, they probably won’t leave an odd review. They were really interested in it, so much so that they paid money to watch it as a rental or purchase.
However, SVOD users don’t have to be interested to try out a film. I have often clicked and tried films i would never pay money for. Just to see. That also means people who are not your target audience, or who are just trolls who have wandered out from under their bridge might watch and comment or review your film.
i know it’s hard to believe the internet could engender such behavior. I actually stopped making tutorial videos on Youtube partially because the comments were so toxic. There were other reasons, but that environment played into it.
Places like Amazon aren’t quite that bad, but you do get your fair share of weirdness. The comedy short “Carjacked” that I wrote and directed got a 1-star review simply because it was a short comedy. I mean, it’s not a secret. What did the viewer expect? Long drama?
Luckily, a few people have reviewed the film on Amazon (3 as of now) and it’s still at 5 stars. I expect that to change. And frankly, even bad reviews help drive the algorithm.
It’s scary to be in SVOD. I don’t know what will happen. its like releasing the movie all over again. What if people hate it? What if they don’t?
Well, I like it. I’m proud of it, even with its flaws.
If you want to watch on Amazon, check it out here: amzn.to/2mu5msO
If you like it, leave a review. If you don’t, send me a message telling me how much you hate it.