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Opportunity knocks for indie producers

Shifts in windowing may prove beneficial

As studios and content providers grapple with shifts in windowing, independent producers may have an opportunity to benefit from the changing models.

“The producer should get smart and work with the best person in physical, the best person in theatrical and the best person in digital,” said Jason Peterson, CEO of ContentBridge, a company that provides tools for content-centric businesses to internally manage their work and distribute it to global partners.

Peterson and others at the 3rd annual Film Finance Forum West, presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety, agreed that instead of going to one entity to distribute content across theatrical, homevid and digital platforms, producers are better off splitting the rights among different entities.

Digital aggregators like Go Digital Media Group and Gravitas Ventures, for example, are among the handful of companies that negotiate directly with online distributors like Netflix and iTunes. For fee ranging from 15% to 50% of revenue (but averaging 30%), producers can sell content to an aggregator, which will then negotiate to sell the film in a bundle deal to an online provider, which will then charge somewhere around 30%.

Since these content deals are not necessarily exclusive, a producer is free to figure out the best theatrical or homevideo distributor for his or her product.

Amid the rapid evolution of digital distribution and release windows, producers need a strategy tailormade for each venue, panelists suggested. The biggest challenge, however, is in the marketing.

One entity tasked with distributing content across multiple platforms might have a built-in plan for selling the product in each market. Companies that deal exclusively in digital, theatrical or homevideo, however, may only have strategies for their particular area.

It’s therefore up to producers, Peterson said, to have some framework for a marketing plan.

“The producer has to coordinate the marketing efforts,” he said. “If you’re in a split-rights situation, as a producer, you have to be an expert marketer.”

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