Gary Delfiner is the senior vice president of digital distribution for Screen Media Ventures, the largest indie distributor taking film to television platforms as well and creator of the fantastic web distribution service, Popcornflix. With an app available, you can now watch your favorite films anywhere!
Much is made in our culture of the filmmaking process. Your career is about what happens when that gets finished. What does it take to broker deals with companies and production studios on all levels?
The short answer is understanding the changing face of the distribution model. With the rapid deployment of digital distribution and the effect that digital has had on the way films are distributed, making ANY deal is contingent on a working knowledge of the various platforms and revenue deals. Distribution is now “King.” “Content is, obviously, important but the deals are dictated by the windows. The windows are rapidly changing.
What, in your definition, makes a film jump out at you enough to distribute it?
Is it well made and is there a market for that film on ANY or all of the old and new platforms?
In your experience, what does it require after taking on a film for it to succeed at festivals and in theaters? Do you also study things so they will succeed across all platforms, so say, a film may do well in theaters but you see it being perfection for HBO ratings?
Screen Media Ventures, LLC, focuses on the distribution aspect rather than film-producing. It is a leading global independent motion picture distribution company with a broad distribution network that includes US and international theatrical, home video, television, cable and new media distribution, with one of the largest independently owned motion picture libraries.
What about international moviegoers? Have you found that their taste differs any? What do they like and dislike?
I don’t really know about international movie goers but I do know about digital platform movie viewers. They are no different than the viewers in the USA. They want to watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it. That is the “mantra” of the new digital model.
How do you market a film for success overseas?
The concept of marketing is changing. With so many digital outlets, it is dependent on the device or platform. If it is a connected TV platform, for example, the marketing needs to be coordinated with the specific set top box or TV manufacturer through their content marketing team.
When you see something like ticket sale numbers are down – the stock market equivalent for film companies – how do you get people back in to watch more movies? How do you scramble to analyze what works and what doesn’t?
I am not an expert in this area as Popcornflix provides free streaming content.
With your side project, Popcornflix, why are you giving away movies for free when other companies like Netflix charge a monthly membership fee?
Popocornflix is key initiative for this company. It is among the fastest growing ad supported free movie streaming sites worldwide. The movies are “free” to the viewer but generate revenue through advertising revenue which is shared with the film owners. It is an entirely different model then Netflix.
The problem with home movie services of all sizes is often, they don’t carry every single movie someone may want to watch. You may find that only HBO holds the rights to it, and you need to subscribe to HBO on your home plan if you have Netflix, while Netflix doesn’t have what you’re looking for elsewhere but some things another service may not have. How are you trying to solve this issue with Popcornflix now and in the near future so everyone will have everything they might want to watch?
There is pragmatically no way that one platform can have all choices. That is probably the “good news.” For Popcornflix, our goal is to provide quality feature length films that will appeal to viewers and LOTS of it. We currently have approximately 600 films and add more each day and month. I think that viewers, including myself, will have a myriad of platforms from which they get the majority of their movies. It is no different than my watching Downton Abbey on PBS and Madmen on AMC. I think choice is a good thing.
What are you working on right now in terms of deals? What can people expect from your companies this year?
In the near future, viewers will see Popcornflix available on their Android phones and tablets, and on more connected TV platforms. In addition, we just launched Frightpix which is all Horror films. That is another trend that we are looking at developing. More niche channels which will have different films than Popcornflix.