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Jul 7, 2016

 

Linda Nelson from Indie Rights discusses what's hot in digital distribution and how Amazon Prime fits into your overall strategy.
 

Indie Rights, Inc. is an American distributor of independent films, based in Los Angeles, California. Indie Rights is a subsidiary of Nelson Madison Films and was incorporated in 2007 to act as distributor for other independent filmmakers.[1] The corporation began as a private MySpace group where the makers of independent films could get information about the changing face of film distribution; founders Linda Nelson and Michael Madison created Indie Rights so that distribution contracts could be signed by a legal entity. The corporation distributes films largely through video on demand services, though more recently it has overseen suchtheatrical releases as We Are Kings and Fray, both in 2014.

Nelson Madison Films has produced three features: Bigger Than Live (2002), Shifted (2006) and Delivered (2011).[2][3]

 

Background[edit]

Linda Nelson is a former investment banker and computer systems analyst based in Los Angeles since 1980;[2] Michael Madison moved there in 1999 from Duncanville, Texas, to work as an actor and film producer.[4] They first partnered in 2000 to create and distribute the NSYNC concert film Bigger Than Live for IMAX theaters. In 2003, they formed their own company[1] with the goal of making independent features using local talent. Madison acts and handles writing, producing and directing duties; Nelson writes and produces[4] while developing distribution plans for other filmmakers.

Lawsuit and recovery[edit]

Bigger Than Live broke even during its theatrical run, but Nelson and Madison "failed to tie up the necessary rights in our initial contract" and lost home video distribution in a lawsuit that shut down their production office. They moved into "more humble digs" and tried again with the crime thriller Shifted, learning the ins and outs of distribution while attending film festivals.[3] Nelson soon discovered that the chances of getting a film seen at a major festival such as Sundance or Cannes without having connections in the industry "are slim to nothing."[5] The company began a private group on MySpace called Indie Co-op, where filmmakers could get details on self-distribution, including attendance at smaller festivals where films are likely to benefit from local coverage and reviews.[6]

Nelson believed that film distributors didn't have any systems for accountability in place[2] and that they tended to buy the rights to entire catalogs rather than individual films,[7] so she and Madison decided to do it themselves. Since they needed a legal entity to make distribution contracts valid,[3] they incorporated Indie Rights in 2007.[8] Nelson said doing both film production and distribution gives them a greater understanding of the challenges that filmmakers face than would a company that focuses only on distribution.[9]

Film distribution[edit]

By 2013, Indie Rights had built up enough name recognition that video on demand providers began approaching the corporation for information on available independent films rather than waiting to be contacted.[10] Those features are steered mostly to such platforms as Amazon Unbox, Google Play, Hulu and iTunes,[11] where the filmmakers can earn up to 50 percent of the revenue.[12] Innovations include searchable film rentals on YouTube and through video game consoles, allowing filmmakers new sources of income—in 2011, Indie Rights had "little films making five grand a month on PlayStation".[13] In 2014, the company was the first independent studio included on M–GO, a subscription service supported by "all six of the major studios" that offers films for home viewing that are still playing in theaters.[14]

Filmmaker and Baylor University professor Christopher Hansen turned to Indie Rights in 2015 when his film Where We Started failed to make the major festival circuit. After a short run at the Arena Cinema Hollywood led to favorable reviews, the film was released via digital platforms.[15] Theatrical releases by Indie Rights also include 9 Full Moons (2013), featuring Amy Seimetz and Harry Dean Stanton;[16] We Are Kings, the feature-film debut of America's Got Talent winner Bianca Ryan;[17] and Druid Peak, starring Spencer Treat Clark and winner of Best Feature Film at the 2014 Omaha Film Festival.[18]

Indie Rights became part of the Independent Online Distribution Alliance in 2008.[19] Nelson and Madison also conduct seminars for independent filmmakers looking to build an audience through social networking.[20] DocumentaryTelevision.com said Nelson "really gets what it takes to win with Facebook."[21]

Filmmaking[edit]

Starting in 2010, the budgetary constraints of independent film-making required that Nelson Madison Films go tapeless. Delivered, their second "crime thriller", was their first to utilize Red Digital Cinema cameras and Adobe CS5 production software.[22] Madison directed, and played the lead role in an "uneven performance" where "at times he's spot-on".[23]

 

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