Toronto: Vimeo Offering New On Demand Service to 150 TIFF Titles

10:15 PM PST 09/02/2013 by Etan Vlessing
Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca International Film Festival

The YouTube competitor's new pay-for-download effort, first implemented with SXSW premiere "Some Girl(s)," allows filmmakers to set the price, format and geographical access of movies.

TORONTO - Vimeo is hoping around 150 high-profile movies follow the lead of Adam Brody and Kristen Bell's recent vehicle Some Girl(s), as the U.S. video sharing site brings its newly-launched self-distribution platform to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Vimeo on Demand, which allows filmmakers to set the price, a streaming or download format and geographical access for their movies, is being extended to 150 world premieres in Toronto. The offer requires filmmakers to give the Vimeo on Demand platform 30 days for online exclusivity -- or until the YouTube competitor recoups a $10,000 advance.

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After that, Vimeo will offer a 90/10 revenue split in favor of the filmmaker, and allow films to pursue traditional distribution channels outside of the 30 day exclusive window.

Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor isn't venturing how many TIFF titles embrace his self-distribution platform, which gained attention when Daisy von Scherler Mayer's Some Girl(s), based on the Neil LaBute stage play, became the first feature to launch day-and-date via the Vimeo on Demand platform.

A host of world bows in Toronto will have distribution plans in place that bar them from taking up the Vimeo on Demand offer, But Trainor insists putting up to $1.5 million in minimum guarantees on the table for 150 world bows in Toronto aims to get the industry talking more about direct distribution. 

"It's a movement that's really growing, and a lot of filmmakers are looking at it (self-distribution) as a component of their distribution plan, or the main component of their distribution plan," Trainor said.

Here he stressed Vimeo on Demand should be viewed as complementary to a traditional theatrical release.

"It's not so much about this or that. There are definitely many permutations," Trainor said, including a day-and-date release with a theatrical run, or going global with direct distribution. He added Video on Demand offers filmmakers more control over how a film earns revenue, and so retains any possible profits.

That includes speed to market, as filmmakers don't wait for traditional theatrical distribution that may come well after a film festival launch, and instead release a picture as soon as possible via Vimeo On Demand.

"They were able to have their film available worldwide within months of it premiering at the festival," Trainor said of Some Girl(s), which debuted at South by Southwest in March 2013, before a release via Vimeo on Demand in late June. The self-distribution platform also allows filmmakers to set their own market price for their content.

In the case of the TIFF offer, Trainor said filmmakers are being asked to set the price at $4.99 or higher, and that the film be available on his platform for at least two years. The offer has the blessing of TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, who sees Vimeo on Demand as a bonus to filmmakers debuting their movies in Toronto.

"For any independent filmmaker trying to connect with an audience -- and who isn't? -- this is a terrific new opportunity," Bailey said in a statement.

And it's not just star-driven titles like those at TIFF that Trainor wants to attract. Indie filmmakers that want to go direct to their audience with their work are welcome as well. Since debuting in March, Vimeo On Demand has grown to a global catalog of nearly 2,000 film titles.

"We really want to emphasize this is a platform for creators of all levels to distribute quality content to their audiences, whether the creator is independent or has access to more traditional paths," Trainor said.

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