companies. But some smaller players are asking -- just like bigger
Hollywood players have been doing -- if Netflix is friend or foe, CNET
reported. "That's the question everyone is asking," said Orly Ravid, co-executive director of The Film Collaborative, a nonprofit helping filmmakers with distribution strategy.
Ellen Seidler, who made And Then Came Lola, said she likes that Netflix at least pays, but said she wouldn't distribute through the company again.
"There are other outlets that offer more potential for profit," Seidler
said. "Netflix can also undermine sales in other markets where we stand
to make more money." She suggested that Netflix start paying on a
per-view basis instead of offering a flat fee.
How does Netflix fit into traditional film release windows?
"You can't make money on it," Tracy Balsz,
who consults indie filmmakers on distribution, told CNET. "I tell
clients to work through all the channels first and when you reach
saturation then go to Netflix."
Balsz said the most she's seen anybody earn from streaming is $20,000.
According to Balsz, Netflix managers often require indie film companies
to make DVDs available for the company's DVD delivery service before
agreeing to stream them in return for a flat fee if a film performs
Indie film firm Gravitas Ventures has licensed 300 movies to Netflix. And its founder Nolan Gallagher said
Netflix is only one part of a successful distribution strategy. "I
would say Netflix is a friend to the indie filmmaker," Gallagher told
CNET. "But you can't think of just Netflix. Along with them, you have to
work with other important outlets, such as Comcast, iTunes and Time
"We are a bastion for indie films," a Netflix spokesman told CNET. "We are a bastion for accessibility."
He noted that all indie films don't earn the same, emphasizing that
Netflix must ensure there's demand for a movie before paying up.
But Ravid said indie films don't seem as key to Netflix any more.
"Netflix stopped focusing on the little guys and more on the big films
and I think that's why they're growing so fast," he said. "I don't think
there's enough people in this country interested in indie films to make
that much difference."
- Orly Ravid