Advances in technology may transform the way the industry does business, as a new generation of websites tries to lure producers, distributors, sales companies, financiers and film-makers online. But can an industry built on personal contacts and face-to-face time change that much?
What a difference a decade makes. At the height of dotcom euphoria, all manner of overfunded start-ups made grandiose claims about transforming the operational backbone of Hollywood and shaking up the industrial foundations of global cinema. Creative Planet, for one, had visions of a vertically integrated web community of media professionals that mimicked the traditional studio system — but without all the physical baggage. InternetStudios sought nothing less than to re-invent the financing, sales and distribution ecosystem with a digital marketplace for film and TV rights. Both companies flamed out.
Some 12 years later and web technology is only now starting to catch up with such disruptive thinking. Some of those same ideas have gained currency again, albeit couched in more modest language and with rather more concrete ambitions that come tied to identifiable industry needs.
Screen spotlights 16 business-to-business web companies in the following pages, but to that list could be added any number of others.
Evolution, not revolution
There are still hurdles. Proprietary data systems, for example still have difficulty talking to one another; and broadband access, as anyone on the festival circuit can attest, is by no means as universal or as free as all those cloud-based, always-on visions might suggest. Nonetheless, at every point along the film-making process and distribution food-chain, old ways are being rendered obsolete.
“Looking back five years, we underestimated the complacency of film and TV buyers and therefore overestimated their readiness for an efficient online B2B marketplace for audiovisual content,” says Mediapeers’ co-chief Moritz Viehweger. “Meanwhile our attitude changed from revolution to evolution, as we support the market participants to interact more efficiently rather than change the rules of the game.”
“I don’t see Cinando’s core audience, film production and indie distribution, eager for dramatic changes in their ways to conduct business,” says the Cannes Marché du Film’s executive director, Jerome Paillard. “While developing a service such as Cinando, we’re always straddling that borderline between thinking in advance what could be useful for the industry and listening to their comments. They can express needs but we can’t really expect them to describe what should be done.”
Like it or not, the industry has been thrust into the digital age through the magnetic force of social media, smartphones and web-search dependency.
“The hopes we all had from a decade ago are now being realised in more concrete ways, primarily due to the lower cost of technology and because we are all now connected and more empowered by technology,” says Ian Hierons, who is spearheading a nascent film music marketplace, Score Revolution.
“Five years ago, our primary challenge was creating a product that didn’t intimidate less technically proficient users,” recalls Baseline’s Kevin Wyatt. “Now the challenge is keeping pace with an ever more sophisticated user base.”
An informal poll of executives, conducted appropriately enough through LinkedIn, found only one, a French-based producer, who continues to shun the web completely in favour of information provided the old-fashioned way by partners and distributors. The rest drew on a combination of sites, with Cinando, IMDb, Baseline’s Studio System and Festival Scope repeatedly mentioned as useful, even invaluable.
While these new B2B web services introduce much-needed layers of efficiency, simplicity and even transparency to the movie business, no-one talks any more of supplanting the status quo. Eventival’s Tomas Prasek says he is “driven by the desire to help change the film festival industry from within”.
Jason Kassin, whose budding Rights-Trade platform comes closest to achieving what proved beyond the reach of InternetStudios, uses similarly circumspect language. “The world of film licensing and distribution is a highly complex business model that requires software solutions built from years of industry knowledge.” With RightsTrade “we want to provide business efficiency enhancements and leading-edge technology within the existing industry structure — as opposed to disruption for disruption’s sake”.
Even Slated, a newcomer that aims to flatten the landscape for independent film financing by replicating some of the systems that have worked in other industries, recognises the behavioural codes that govern movie deal-making.
“Most film business is conducted offline, over the phone, at festivals and via e-mail,” says Slated’s CEO Duncan Cork. “There is a lot of inefficiency and cost associated with doing business this way. Technology can improve that process, but it’s not exactly disruptive.
“We have to remember the film industry is built on relationships. It’s about who you know and who you can trust. To create real disruption through technology, the industry needs to use it with people they know and trust. It starts there.”
The websites you need
Screen spotlights 16 online services which aim to assist with financing, rights management, box-office information, screenings and networking. Profiles by Colin Brown
Having paid $35m to acquire Baseline’s movie and TV industry database in 2006, The New York Times promptly sold it back to the original owners, Mitchell Rubenstein and Laurie Silvers, this October. That duo already controls a stable of internet properties including Hollywood.com, Spill.com and Hollywood Wiretap.
Baseline is principally known for its high-end flagship subscription service, The Studio System, which offers an expanding array of directory search, tracking and competitive intelligence services. “The feedback we hear most often is the market’s desire for one-stop shopping — a solution that eliminates the infinite white noise of the internet — and that’s what we strive to deliver,” says Kevin Wyatt, Baseline’s director of syndication sales, who has been with the company since 2002.
Baseline sees international growth prospects ahead, particularly in its data-licensing business: theoretically, the demand for localised entertainment can only increase as the world’s video delivery infrastructure transitions to digital. There is also an opportunity for localised versions of The Studio System that speak to the business priorities of each territory. The challenge will come in understanding what data and business intelligence has value in the different markets. Countries with film industries that are largely state-sponsored have little interest in the competitive development information that is Baseline’s bread and butter in the US.
Launch date 1985.
Key executives Amer Saleem, director of technology; Salvatore Capone, manager, sales team.
Cost to users Service tiers and pricing vary from $5 a day to thousands per year.
Ownership structure Privately held by Project Hollywood, LLC.
Business model Subscription sales, a la carte information products, data licensing and syndication.
A natural outgrowth of all the registration details that are collected by the Cannes Film Festival every year, Cinando’s online database has grown to encompass 35,000 contacts, 20,000 films and projects and 1,600 online screeners. Cinando has made strenuous efforts to become a year-round reference and networking tool, one that is used at other major film events, including Berlin’s European Film Market, Hong Kong’s Filmart, the American Film Market (AFM) and Toronto.
“Cinando is an extension of the services provided by the Marché du Film, a real, actual… film market,” says executive director Jerome Paillard, distinguishing himself from internet wannabes. “We have shared it with other film markets around the word and the industry loves that. Another key factor is that only reputable organisations can be trusted by the industry to handle their films.”
Such trust will be essential if Cinando is to fulfil future ambitions. “Mobile is the most promising evolution, and definitely a challenging one,” says Paillard. “Cinando is already available on the iPhone. The coming version will include iPad and we’re working on a mobile offline — but still secure — screening room. Instead of simply transposing the web version to these new devices, we are now developing solutions to answer the new needs born of mobility.
“As a service created and run by the Festival de Cannes, we are driven by serving the industry and the film-makers, rather than building a business. But I definitively see the possible emergence of the direct distribution concept as a potential growth area for Cinando.”
Launch date Born as cannesmarket.com in 1999, the site became a year-round service as Cinando in 2007.
Key executives Jerome Paillard, executive director, David Capaldi, project manager.
Cost to users $115 (€85) per year, but is included with the registration at the Cannes Marché and with such film market partners as AFM, EFM, Filmart.
Ownership structure Owned by the Festival de Cannes AFFIF.
Business model Advertising and subscriptions. Cinando is supported by the EU’s MEDIA programme.
This Czech-based outfit markets a web-based data management and festival production software system, Eventival 2.0, that does everything from streamlining submissions to printing out bar-coded accreditation cards and simplifying travel logistics and internal communications.
When unveiled in February during the Berlinale, 10 festivals were using it as their virtual back-office. Now more than 40 film festivals and other organisations have deployed the system to prepare, organise and archive their events.
“On average, two new festivals begin to use Eventival every month,” says CEO Tomas Prasek. “We are experiencing growth both in terms of new territories and business segments. Currently with clients in 24 countries in Europe, the US, Asia and Africa, we see new requests for collaboration coming from the whole world.
“The plan is clear and simple — to become every festival’s first choice of software to manage the event. While this may be more complicated with the several largest film festivals — because there are often too many decision makers which decreases their ability to make decisions purely in the benefit of greater efficiency — we think it is definitely doable with smaller to medium size festivals.”
Launch date Founded in November 2008 as a UK company; in 2009 it was registered in Prague, its current HQ.
Key executives Tomas Prasek, co-founder and CEO (Prague), Dawna Cha, co-founder and director of business development (Seoul).
Cost to users Approximately $4,000 (€3,000) per year for the flagship service.
Ownership structure Privately owned limited liability company (Ltd) with one investor from outside the film industry.
Business model Core product is provided as software as a service (SaaS) with an annual subscription. Other consulting and advisory services to festivals and film-makers are charged based on the project.
While working in sales and acquisitions — she at MK2, he at Celluloid Dreams — Mathilde Henrot and Alessandro Raja spotted the need for a professionals-only film platform for on-demand viewing of festival films.
“We felt there was a missing link,” say the co-founders. “We came up with… a tool to help new talent emerge, programmers and film critics screen, buyers acquire and sales agents sell.”
Festival Scope currently presents films from more than 65 international film festivals.
“We watch the films we show and highlight the ones we think need highlighting,” the partners explain. “In our newsletter, Festival Scope Selects, there are five films plus one ‘talent to watch’ every week. We also keep track of all the films all year round in terms of awards, selections, releases, reviews and so on.
“We emphasise our assets — our technology that makes viewing films on Festival Scope the best option in terms of security and user friendliness, our complete independence and our curated approach. We have learned that in a world of overabundance, our — and our partner festivals’ — curated and selective approach are of great value.”
Festival Scope developed its own specific video player that allows only one screening per film, at the highest standard in streaming quality, with the ability to restart the viewing exactly where the user has left off, even days later. Streaming features are designed to ensure additional security for rights holders.
Launch date September 2010.
Key executives Alessandro Raja, CEO and founder; Mathilde Henrot, founding partner.
Cost to users Free.
Ownership structure Privately owned.
Business model The plan is to launch a yearly subscription fee per user. The price has not been announced though the founders are keen to keep it “very affordable” in order to grant access to any film professionals who may need it.
This online portal for the UK film industry chose this year’s launch date — December 5 — quite deliberately. It is the same day, in 1958, which saw the opening of the UK’s first motorway, the Preston bypass now known as the M6. Co-founded by film enthusiast and admitted road geek Scott Barber, FilmNav’s design is also based around UK road signs and icons. The intended message: this is the online highway for UK film-makers, helping them with funding, hiring people and kit, and post-production services.
“Competition to FilmNav in the UK is not that great,” suggests Barber. He has recently spent two years in Delhi and his eyes are set on expansion into the Indian market. “My aim is to have FilmNav established in the Big Five film-making areas globally — India, Hong Kong (covering Asia), Egypt (covering the Middle East), Nigeria and obviously the US. There are always language and cultural issues, particularly across APAC, Africa and the Middle East markets, so it’s very important to employ local talent in key areas. Each of these regions will have their own challenges and different business opportunities.”
Launch date December 2011.
Key executives Scott Barber, Nick Pye, Gita Azizi, co-founders.
Cost to users Free.
Ownership structure Private.
Business model Advertising and sponsorship.
FILMTRACK SOFTWARE (RightsTrade)
FilmTrack bills itself as the world’s leading provider of rights management and contract administration services with significant penetration in the film and television markets. FilmTrack was initially positioned as an efficiency tool that effectively aped the existing mechanisms for the IP lifecycle. Quite a bit has changed.
“As we’ve migrated our software solution itself into a browser-based model, we have evolved into an online back-office storage and delivery mechanism,” says CEO Jason Kassin. “Our core business still revolves around contract administration and rights management. The emergent property of that data is the availabilities. This is the Holy Grail — what is available to be licensed to whom and when?
“By making such information available in a secure context, the potential for an evolved — and potentially disruptive — business transaction becomes more real.”
RightsTrade, a new initiative the company is participating in that will launch at Cannes 2012, contemplates just such a paradigm shift by creating a secure marketplace where buyers and sellers can view inventory ‘avails’ in real time on any mobile device and effectuate agreements on an instantaneous and paperless basis. Users can sync data seamlessly between their internal systems and the marketplace, much as they are doing now with their own corporate sites.
“The idea is to provide the same level of access as a Cannes or an AFM in the comfort of the user’s own home, office or hotel suite at the end of a lucrative day at the market,” says Kassin.
Launch date FilmTrack was founded in March 2000. RightsTrade LLC founded in May 2011 and will launch in May 2012 at Cannes.
Key executives Jason Kassin, CEO; Stephen Kassin, president; Thomas Coleman, chief technological officer.
Cost to users FilmTrack offers a standard entertainment licence model as well as a software-as-a-service model for smaller companies. RightsTrade offers free usage; commission will be charged for completed licences and fees will be charged for special services such as digital delivery.
Ownership structure FilmTrack is privately owned. RightsTrade is owned by FilmTrack’s principals, together with Jado Holdings and Matilda Media Group.
Business model Software licensing, maintenance, support, software-as-a-service, and pro services.
IMDb (IMDb Pro, Box Office Mojo, Withoutabox, CreateSpace)
With more than 110 million worldwide unique users per month, not to mention 27 million mobile app installations, IMDb is the consumer world’s leading movie website with versions available in eight languages including Chinese.
With Amazon’s backing, it has also become a habitual information source for industry professionals, happy to take free advantage of Box Office Mojo or be among the 350,000 claimed film-makers that use Withoutabox to submit films to festivals around the globe. Add in IMDb Pro’s contact listings for 80,000 professionals and 30,000 entertainment companies and it is small wonder executives often gripe about their credits — this website matters.
And IMDb is not done yet. “Our aim is to cover every movie and every TV show from every country in the world and every time period,” says IMDb founder and CEO Col Needham. And then to find a way to make sure that work is seen.
A first step came with the 2005 acquisition of CreateSpace, which allows film-makers to sell movies to a worldwide audience through DVDs-on-demand or video downloads via Amazon VoD. But Amazon’s own acquisition of Lovefilm suggests bigger plans are afoot.
“We see the whole industry still ripe for innovation and disruption,” says Needham. “The biggest area for IMDb is in connecting film-makers with their audience. The internet offers incredible opportunities to reach what in the past might have been considered fragmented audiences, and to build a closer and on-going relationship between film-makers, distributors and viewers.”
Launch date October 1990. IMDb Pro launched in 2002; Withoutabox and Box Office Mojo acquired in 2008.
Key executives Col Needham, founder and CEO; HB Siegel, chief technology officer; Toni Reid, head of consumer products; Jack Bernstein, head of professional services.
Cost to users IMDb’s consumer website and mobile apps are free, as is Box Office Mojo. IMDb Pro is $125 per year. Withoutabox, which is free for film-makers, takes a cut from submission fees.
Ownership structure A wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.
Business model Advertising and subscriptions.
This Netherlands-headquartered company’s Movie Accounting System — or MACCS — sees approximately 35% of international box office processed through its systems — a percentage CEO Bert Huls expects to grow 50%-55% in the next three to five years.
MACCS software covers everything from rights management, theatrical distribution, p&a and virtual print fees to sub-licensing and royalty statements.
Other services include MaccsBox, a web-based data-exchange platform, and D-Cinema Hub, a one-stop-global-shop for online ordering, post-production and delivery of digital cinema in which it is partnered with XDC.
“MACCS enables customers to conduct business more efficiently and effectively through operational cost reductions and additional insights that increase business and revenues,” says Huls. “Our facilities provide clients with the opportunity to switch their focus from operations to marketing.
“Theatrical is key in the distribution process in regards to awareness and marketing of a film across its full life cycle. We’ve been approached by many producers about getting their product on the web but the question is, who’s going to buy it? Especially if nobody’s heard of the product. How do they create awareness? As long these questions are not answered, we’re not interested in administratively supporting the numerous initiatives in this market.”
Launch date Founded in 1994. Product launched in Germany, UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Australia from 2000.
Key executives Bert Huls, CEO; Mathieu van As, chief technology officer.
Cost to users From $13,400 a year.
Ownership structure Privately owned with start-up funding from a venture-capital company.
Business model Fixed monthly fee or per transaction.
This Berlin-based company operates the Mediapeers Exchange, which claims to be the world’s largest business-to-business marketplace for audiovisual content.
By pushing sales and distribution into the cloud, MPX reduces transactions costs and liberates buyers from the costly handling of screeners and broadcast tapes, not to mention billing runs with a multitude of suppliers.
“We underwent a metamorphosis from marketplace to software-as-a-service provider as we initially underestimated the personal touch in acquisition decisions,” explains co-CEO Moritz Viehweger. “We were fortunate that our clients ultimately pushed us to reformulate our vision to become the Leatherman for content distributors.”
Not that everything will be cloud-based. “Once our customers entrust their entire media archive and vital business data to us or rely on our technology for their core business processes, they want the reassurance of a local face. Thus we have team members in London, Los Angeles and Madrid, while our product development remains centralised in Berlin.”
This year, Mediapeers’ revenues jumped 70% on 2010, with expectations of further growth in 2012 on the back of US demand. An iPad tablet version of MPX is also in the works that may answer executive grumblings about spotty wi-fi.
“I am convinced in 2012 we will launch a dedicated app for iOS devices that will support offline use cases, such as researching and screening at a market without relying on the typically poor internet connectivity,” says Viehweger.
Launch date January 2008.
Key executives Moritz Viehweger, founder and co-CEO; Holger Hendel, founder and co-CEO; Torsten Graf-Oettel, founder and chief technology officer.
Cost to users Software-as-a-service (SaaS) fees are based on the number of users and catalogue size. They range between $200-$10,000.
Ownership structure Founding investors are T-Venture (Deutsche Telekom),Telepool and Fintage House.
Business model Monthly software-as-a-service fee for cloud-based services; technical service fees; customisation and development of client-specific functionality, charged as a per diem for software development.
OLFFI (Online Film Financing)
A web platform designed to alleviate the headache of sifting through Europe’s 150 film funds and initiatives, Olffi is itself a French-Irish co-production with development being done in Paris and all sales, marketing and technical support undertaken from Dublin. A Beta version is set to be unveiled at Cannes 2012, followed by a launch at the International Rome Film Festival next October.
“Olffi will also be positioned as a clearing house for distributors and equity financiers,” says one of its three co-founders, Ilann Girard, a financial adviser and producer. “By outlining the viability and financial soundness of a project, Olffi should be in a position to facilitate and encourage private investment in film production.”
The online toolbox will enable producers to assess the rules, eligibility and compatibility of EU funding programmes — research they would otherwise perform manually or pay a consultant some $6,700-$8,000 (€5,000-€6,000) to conduct.
“Olffi will provide a different perspective on funding potentialities in Europe,” claims Girard. “More transparency and better understanding will create a different environment and lead to more specialisation among European production centres.” Users will also be able to apply online to the various applicable funds.
Olffi has struck partnerships with the various MEDIA-supported databases and news agencies. “We are also working in sharing data with private sources and professional organisations such as producers’ unions and training programmes,” Girard explains.
This constant updating of all transnational, national and regional funding programmes, plus the expense of developing the requisite search engine and budget tools, is seen as an entry barrier for would-be competitors.
Launch date End of 2012.
Key executives Joelle Levie, CEO and president; Francois Farrugia, managing director; Ilann Girard, director of development.
Cost to users Consultation on funding rules, newsfeed and market data is free. Applications, budget tools and financing scenarios will be charged a licence fee.
Ownership structure Owned by three founders and a private-equity fund.
Business model Revenues derived from licence fees (paid by users), promotional and consulting services (paid by film funds and services providers) and public support from the MEDIA programme (likely to decrease over time).
This Cologne-based short-film portal has spent the last several years packaging festival submissions into a shorter, more professionalised process. Film-makers register online, complete the form, provide a synopsis and film stills and then upload their films as digital files. With more than 70 international festivals conducting their submissions this way, Reelport claims it has saved on the production and shipping of some 320,000 DVDs.
Reelport also operates the video library for six events: Cannes’ Short Film Corner, Tampere Film Festival, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Ventana Sur in Buenos Aires, Abu Dhabi’s Industry Centre and Tallinn’s Black Market Industry Screenings.
Only verified industry representatives are given an access code and their names are overlaid when the film is played back, so illegal copies can be traced. Reelport’s white-label solution, PicturePipe, is the customisable technology behind a joint initiative from Stuttgart’s public library and film festival to launch an online animation library. The aim is to create a permanently accessible film archive that can also be used as a sales platform for professionals.
More than 10,000 archived films will be gradually digitised and added to the collection.
Reelport sales executive Sebastian Nase believes film distribution and screening are ripe for innovation “because of the streaming technologies and increasing processing power of computers worldwide. Why shouldn’t a cinema down-load and play-out a theatrical version of any film on the day they need it?”
Nase is wary of competition from BRIC countries. “In the near future, pricing will definitely be an issue. Because the wages are so low in these countries, it will be difficult to compete on this level. Therefore we have to keep ahead in terms of being familiar and having in-depth knowledge about the special characteristics of our market.”
Launch date 2004-05.
Key executives Tilman Scheel, founder and managing director.
Cost to users Various as products are customised for every user.
Ownership structure Private.
Business model Rather than take a cut of festival submission fees — something European festivals do not tend to charge — Reelport relies on a small ‘transmission fee’ for each film submitted.
RENTRAK (International Box Office Essentials)
For more than two decades from its headquarters in Portland, Oregon, Rentrak has kept refining its measurement technologies in a bid to provide customers with near-real-time, actionable insights into how content performs across every commercial media platform. Its systems process nearly 1 billion pieces of information every day — that is more daily transactions than most credit-card companies handle.
A major part of that business is the tracking of box-office returns, spurred in part by the acquisition of Nielsen EDI and Cine Chiffres in France.
“We help the industry both strategically and tactically,” says CEO Bill Livek. “We keep track of the entire film industry. Who’s going to the movie and how much they are spending at each screen as well as every commercial activity on the small screen including video-on-demand and digital downloads. We are the census company for the entertainment industry.”
And not just in the US. Rentrak is a global company with offices in 15 cities and 11 countries. The international footprint of its Box Office Essentials service has grown with the recent addition of the Portugal market, the expansion of its management team in Russia and the commencement of collecting film information in mainland China.
“We cover 90% of the global box office,” says theatrical chief Ron Giambra. “We were also the first to offer a mobile service. We did this six or seven years ago and now we have apps for BlackBerries, iPhones and iPads.”
Launch date Founded in 1977 as National Video Inc.
Key executives Bill Livek, CEO; Cathy Hetzel, president of Advanced Media Information division; Ron Giambra, president, theatrical worldwide.
Cost to users Subscription fees.
Ownership structure Public company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Business model Rentrak is split between two core businesses: media measurement and analytical research; and a home-entertainment distribution division that acts as a revenue-sharing middleman between video retailers and their content suppliers. The box-office data business generated $18.3m in fiscal 2011.
RightsLine is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that enables content distribution companies to track the deals, contracts and contractual rights for all of their assets.
“We are the only web-based solution that does this, providing distributors real-time visibility into what they can do what with where,” claims CEO Rob Delf. “Our solution enables companies to track where they have assets and the deals associated with them.”
Founded before the first dotcom bubble burst, RightsLine says it has provided web-based asset and rights management for longer than any other site. Time enough to restructure and change tack somewhat. “Our business has evolved by listening to what our users want. As a result, we have changed our focus to specific markets and client types,” says Delf. “We see our growth coming from small content distributors that are either creating or aggregating content in a specific niche [Hindi content for example], and then distributing that content on VoD channels.”
“Distribution is the biggest area for innovation — connected devices that enable non-linear distribution on a global basis — both ad-supported and traditional.”
Launch date Founded in 1999, restructured in 2007, relaunched in 2009.
Key executives Rob Delf, CEO.
Cost to users Initial set-up fee, monthly cost per user.
Ownership structure Private CA C-Corp.
Business model Software delivered to support end users on a monthly cost basis.
Business customers around the world license music every day — but great film music can be difficult to find and difficult to license. This is the rationale behind Score Revolution.
“By launching the first film music marketplace, we are providing customers with straightforward access to the film music they value and want to license for use in other films, television, advertising, film trailers, interactive games and other media. Our revenue model is based on a split of licence fees with music rights holders,” explains co-founder Ian Hierons, himself a soundtrack producer.
“Any new media platform that uses music — for advertising, promotion or as part of its creative content — will be a market we can penetrate. For example, I can see that the emergence of legitimate media channels on YouTube will provide us with additional revenue.”
Score’s pre-launch/private beta outreach has been well received by both independent film-makers and film-music owners, as well as some major US and European film companies. But the industry still faces a learning curve.
“Our innovations can only serve independent film-makers when they are fully aware of the opportunities that are open to them. We’ve been surprised that some sectors of the film business have a limited understanding of what a great asset film music can be after it has already served the film.”
Launch date Set for the first quarter of 2012. Presently in private beta.
Key executives Ian Hierons, Christine Russell, Seth Kaplan, co-founders.
Cost to users For film-music owners, there is no registration or submission cost; licensing fees are split. Licensing customers pay a negotiated fee for each piece of film music used, the size of which is dependent on media use, territories and the music they have requested.
Ownership structure The company is owned by its three founders and a group of US-based private investors.
Business model Based on a split of licence fees with music rights holders.
Founded 12 years ago as a way to connect just 60 film-maker friends, Shooting People now boasts 38,000 members and an indie community that grows by 200 new crew and cast every week. During that time, a phenomenon known as Facebook erupted and threatened to engulf all online communities — or potentially enliven them.
“At one point we were nervous about having a presence on Facebook because we worried people would just use that instead,” recalls Shooting People’s New York-based editor-in-chief Ingrid Kopp.
“One of the lessons we’ve learned is to really understand how different platforms work, and how communities evolve based on user experience and effective community management. Facebook is a completely different ecosystem from Shooting People and has been a fantastic way to introduce new people to what we do and to tell different kinds of stories. But it has certainly not replaced what we offer — a niche and passionate community dedicated to making films together.
“It’s not really about having the most resources or the flashiest technology, but about being an organisation that connects an active community of film-makers in a really authentic way.”
Adds UK-based co-founder Cath Le Couteur: “One measure of success for us, is that film-makers continue to support our subscription model, which suggests they are still getting key value and benefit from belonging to the organisation. Our view, is that the small subscription fee alleviates much of the noise you tend to see in free networks. The atmosphere is very collegiate.”
In the last two years, Shooting People has been approached by entertainment companies looking to commission content from its network of film-makers.
“This is an interesting area of new growth for us,” says Le Couteur. “Advertising agencies are being cut out and we are seeing clients coming to us for content directly. We predict ongoing growth for this relatively new revenue stream.”
Launch date November 1998.
Key executives Cath Le Couteur, founder; Jess Search, founder; Stuart Tily, technical director.
Cost to users £35/$40 per year.
Ownership structure Owned equally by the three top executives.
Business model Membership subscription and content commissioning.
Now being tested out on 100 users, Slated is a socially vetted online film investment marketplace — the movie equivalent of Silicon Valley’s matchmaking platforms that hitch budding start-ups with angel investors.
Slated’s users will be able to track professionals across their peer-group, and reach out to film-makers who are raising funds for projects. Slated uses a web platform to aggregate user-generated content about the community and the films seeking funding, and an e-mail system to keep users updated without having to go online too frequently.
“Unlike many crowd-funding platforms that cater to all project types, and at much lower budgets, we decided to exclusively focus on film finance, and cater to established film-makers and financiers looking to raise tens of millions,” explains chairman Stephan Paternot. “We decided this would be an investment platform only, not a donation platform. As such, all our investors are accredited investors with about 50% of our investor community representing institutions, distributors, sales companies and so on.”
Adds CEO Duncan Cork: “We supplement existing fundraising efforts by aggregating and educating a ‘new’ investor, and increase fundraising efficiencies through standardisation and transparency. This will expand reach beyond what any individual is capable of doing by being on the phone, attending festivals and knocking on the same doors.”
Launch date Founded in 2009, a public beta launch is earmarked for January 2012.
Key executives Stephan Paternot, chairman and co-founder; Duncan Cork, CEO and co-founder.
Cost to users free.
Ownership structure Sub Chapter C Corporation. Investors include Stephan Paternot, general partner of the Actarus Funds; Barry Silbert, CEO of SecondMarket; and Autumn Partners.
Business mode Eventually, Slated might become a registered broker and take a handling fee.
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