The Art of: Distribution
It’s fair to say the world of filmmaking has changed. The digital revolution has ushered in an era where the technology to make high quality surf films has become more accessible, yet the route of progression and distribution has become less clear. So what is the next step once you have filmed, edited, scored and premiered your beloved project? How do you share your work once it’s done the surf film festival circuit, and more importantly how do you monetise your output?
In the first in a series of articles on the world of filmmaking, we decided to sit down X-treme Video to find out more about distribution, who they are and what they offer a filmmaker.
LS/FF: Can you tell me a little bit about X-treme Video – the back ground of the company, the ethos and the inspiration behind it.
Edouard: Since 1994, X-treme Video is the leading independent distributor of action sports content worldwide. Starting in Biarritz (France) with VHS film distribution then DVD, we now distribute action sports content on multi-platforms. From surfing to snowboarding, mountain biking and base-jumping, we offer the largest existing library of high quality content through our website. Since 2006 we manage the largest extreme sport muti-channel network on Youtube with 140 channels and over 1.4 million fans. Today, X-treme Video develops its own community, capitalising on Youriding.com (The best action sport video games and soon available on mobile devices) and Surfersvillage.com (The worldwide surfing news website), the two other media platform within the group.
LS/FF: What is the role of X-treme Video and how do you go about finding new films?
Nathalie: X-treme Video’s creed has always been to represent producer’s best interests. We take their films to an audience that filmmakers often don’t know about or don’t know how to reach. We find our films by following festivals and on the web through delicate curation process. There’s also a lot of word-of-mouth, since we have been in this industry for 20 years. Besides, most of the producers that have worked with us are likely to make other action sports projects and we continuously represent their movies over the years.
LS/FF: So, if I’ve made a film and it’s successful in the film festivals, what is the next step in bringing my film to the marketplace?
Nathalie: Festivals are good to let everyone know about your film. Now that you’re popular, the next step is to get your film distributed and start earning money. As an aggregator, we deliver movies from our catalogue to about 15 Video On Demand platforms worldwide, from the big ones ie itunes and Google Play, to the core action sports platforms in each country such as Garage Entertainment in Australia or The Surf Network in the USA. Also, a distributor will syndicate your videos on content market place to the right TV channels, airlines and mobile operators.
LS/FF: Do you only focus on feature length films or do you see a market for short films also?
Nathalie: Both. Today, there’s definitely a market for all formats. Smartphone users for example are likely to watch shorter videos, and even though the user thinks he’s watching it for free, content owners can still get remunerated from advertising.
YouTube is the best example, they allow us to get revenues from advertising displayed before, during or around the video. That’s why we have developed our X-treme Video Youtube Network in 2006.
LS/FF: What aspects do you handle?
Nathalie: We handle TV distribution and VOD platforms aggregation for movies and TV series. Another important part of our activity is our YouTube Multi-Channel Network where we curate video content, develop audience and manage monetisation of channels that join our network.
Besides, we promote our films by organizing premieres around the world and submitting them to the accurate film festivals.
LS/FF: In a changing market place what are the various benefits and draw back or DVD vs download releases?
Nathalie: We can say that the technology has been seen as a threat for the media industry but it’s now something we work out in using the best of the new technologies. With Download releases we can deliver our content faster to the market, promote it though all the different VOD platforms worldwide. Today people can watch their new film on multi-devices, from a click on Facebook they can have it on TV or smartphone in the train back to work. The download releases offer new opportunities to distribute and watch contents.
LS/FF: Some filmmakers elect to release their own films. What are the benefits of working with an established distribution company like X-treme Video?
Nathalie:. Filmmaking is a job, selling them is another one. The media world is getting more and more complex. When you license your content, one needs to have a full understanding about what rights he’s giving away, and have enough experience to know whether the deal is worth it or not. Rights can be tricky to allocate. Also, most TV channels and VOD platforms prefer to license a lot of content with a one-off negotiation, rather that having a discussion with every single producer, no matter how passionate they can be. The good thing is, we are passionate too!
LS/FF: As an aspiring filmmaker is there anything else I should know about the business of bringing a film to market?
Joe Nilsson (Director of Sales): Its not an overnight process unfortunately and assets are everything: These days bringing content to market no longer means a couple of verticals, DVD and TV. To distribute content properly many different channels, verticals, routes and tools are needed; this is were assets come in. Those things that may seem menial aren’t, photos from on set, extracts that didn’t make the final cut, editable artwork and insight into the shoot all help to give you the edge when bringing a film to market.