Los Angeles-based Distribber was launched more than a decade ago as a means of allowing filmmakers to access digital distribution platforms and to monitor their earnings in exchange for an upfront flat fee. Filmmakers would keep 100% of all revenue generated.
GoDigital Inc. bought Distribber in 2015 for a low seven-figure price in cash and stock. At that point, Distribber was acting as a go-between for filmmakers, charging a one-time fee of $1,595 for iTunes placement, then $150 per year for account access, collection and sales stats. Its titles included Tribeca Film Festival film “An Honest Liar,” James Colquhon’s “Food Matters” and Kimberly and Foster Gable’s “Thrive.”
Reports began emerging last month that the companies had closed down without explanation. The web site currently says, “At this time, Distribber is not accepting any new orders. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The companies also recently hired bankruptcy specialist GlassRatner, which describes itself as “a national specialty financial advisory services firm providing solutions to complex business problems and board level agenda items.”
Seth Freeman, a senior managing director at GlassRatner, confirmed the hiring in an email to Variety: “I can confirm that GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group, LLC, a B. Riley Financial Company, has been engaged to assist GoDigital and its Distribber division. The engagement is managed by GlassRatner’s Senior Managing Directors, Seth R. Freeman and George Demos. GlassRatner is one of the country’s leading national specialized financial consulting firms with 120 professional in 14 offices.”
Freeman refused to elaborate any further and would not answer questions about when GlassRatner had been hired and what its plans are.
However, news of Distribber and GoDigital’s difficulties began emerging when producer Alex Ferrari said in his Indie Film Hustle podcast in mid-September that Distribber and GoDigital had closed their physical offices. Ferrari also said Distribber still owed him around $4,000 in back pay. At the same time, he also launched the Facebook group Protect Yourself From Distribber.
“Distribber has been grossly mismanaged,” Ferrari told Variety. “This situation is destroying filmmakers’ lives.”
Ferrari had previously promoted Distribber to his Indie Film Hustle audience but said he became suspicious in recent months when the process of working with the company had bogged down, with the company taking more than four months to respond to an email. An executive told Ferrari that there was no guarantee that the films he had paid for would be placed and referred him to GlassRatner regarding a possible refund. At that point, Ferrari went public with his story.
Linda Nelson, CEO of Los Angeles-based Indie Rights, estimated that there are thousands of Distribber films still up on sites such as Amazon. She said Indie Rights has been able to re-publish several films that were originally published by Distribber — including Ferrari’s 2017 film “This Is Meg.”
“This is encouraging, as many of you have asked if you will be able to get your films back up on platforms, once you have Distribber take them down,” Nelson said in a recent post on “Protect Yourself From Distribber.”
Media-technology entity GoDigital Media Group, which had been affiliated with GoDigital Inc. during its early years, is attempting to distance itself from the companies. In a note on its home page, it says, “You can find Distribber (GoDigital inc) at distribber.com. GDMG is not in any way affiliated with GoDigital inc and Distribber and has not been since 2012.”