Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Interview with Scilla Andreen, CEO and Co-Founder of IndieFlix

When we post the interviews with indie horror filmmakers, we hope that we accomplish two things. One, we hope that we give that particular filmmaker a bit of promotion and, hopefully, help him sell a few extra copies of his film. Two, we hope to inspire other filmmakers to get off their asses and go make their films, then give them some promotion once they do... we try to keep the cycle going, as our view is that the world simply needs more indie horror. I mean, you hear a lot of talk about how the market is oversaturated, but fuck that. It's not. I think indie film, especially indie horror, has yet to fully come in to its own and when it does, there's going to be plenty of room to grow. And if you can keep your budget low and you can make a good film, there's no reason you can't make your money back... and some. The problem is that most filmmakers aren't really 100% sure what to do when their film is done. That's why we don't only interview filmmakers, we also try to interview distributors and festival directors... and this interview, with Scilla Andreen, CEO and Co-Founder of IndieFlix is one of those interviews.

Let's just start off by saying that IndieFlix is an awesome service for indie filmmakers and is something you really need to look in to, for sure. They're one of those companies that's pushing the envelope further by delving into new technology, such as VOD and online distribution AND they're on your side. Long and short, we love the service and we're very appreciative of the fact that she took some time to answer our questions. It's great to get a view from the other side of the trench, as she gives you some insight into what distributors and festivals are looking for. So, if you're going to read only one of our interviews this week, maybe it should be this one... but check back, anyhow. You never know.

Please tell us about yourself. Where did you start out and what brought you into the world of indie filmmaking and distribution?

I was at NYU studying political science. I wanted to be a litigator. I fell in love with a Director, Andy Field, 7 years my senior. I helped him out in a pinch when a stylist was a no show on the set – I jumped in and did the job. It came naturally and I made $800 for the day. At 20 yrs old that was awesome money. I left school for a year to work in the industry and never looked back. I quickly moved into doing features and television in LA. My first series was The Wonder Years. I got nominated for an Emmy and proceeded to go to one great show after another working with some of the most talented people in the industry. During my hiatuses I started directing and producing short films which ultimately led me to independent films and finally creating IndieFlix.

Tell us about Indieflix. When was it formed? What’s the mission?

My producing partner, Carlo Scandiuzzi and I founded IndieFlix in 2004 as a distribution solution for filmmakers. We created a company that we wish existed when we were on the festival circuit with our films.

Our Mission: IndieFlix is dedicated to providing a forum for filmmakers and their audience to interact, and to building a community that translates artistic vision into commercial success.

IndieFlix promises to build a fair and open market to empower filmmakers to be the engine of their achievement and audiences to be a vital part of a movie's success. IndieFlix is committed to encourage public opinion and power of choice while reinvesting in the independence of film, the people that craft them, and the organizations that support them.

We believe that every movie has an audience, every filmmaker has a story to tell and each story has the right to be shared. is an online independent film distribution and discovery site offering affordable DVD and streaming to customers all over the world. Founded by 2 Award-Winning Filmmakers in 2005 and headquartered in Seattle, WA IndieFlix has a growing collection of over 1500 award winning features, shorts and documentaries for all ages. Not sure what to watch? Email us and we can help you choose.

“You should be watching movies not looking for them”
Go to: or email at

Talk about your model of distribution and how it differs from the more traditional forms of distribution.

IndieFlix is practically the polar opposite to Hollywood. In fact when we launched everyone thought we were nuts letting filmmakers keep their rights and the lion share of the profits. Over the last 4 years and 1500 films later we have only had about 20 films leave us, most for an exclusive distribution deal. With regard to how we differentiate ourselves from our competition online we are in the process of launching several marketing initiatives. We recognize that filmmakers are the best champions of their own works but they need tools and prodding to work their magic online. We are all, including Hollywood, trying to figure out what is most effective in connecting with our communities online. It’s a rapidly changing time right now. You almost need a cowboy mentality and that takes a lot of energy. We are providing a tool kit.

Our services are non-exclusive. You keep your film rights and we give filmmakers 70% of the net. We are very transparent about all costs and there are no fees whatsoever. We can customize the distribution of your film by delivery method and territory and if you only want to distribute your film digitally, that's not a problem. If you only have the DVD rights, that's okay too. IndieFlix is a "Filmmaker First" marketplace and Distribution Company built to empower Filmmakers to be both Artist & Entrepreneur and to make Film Festival screened work from all over the world available to the broadest online audience. Once you are listed on the site our goal is to help you market your film. Further, IndieFlix has alliances with key online delivery platforms such as iTunes, Hulu, Joost, Snag, Amazon VOD, Netflix and Xbox360. We now provide titles to these outlets offering filmmakers even more revenue opportunities at the same 70/30 split. This link can offer even more info - Filmmakers: How It Works

Do you ever go out and look for films to distribute or do films mostly come to you?

For the most part filmmakers come to us. I thought about doing it like our competitors, getting a Baker & Taylor account and ordering several thousand films from Criterion, Kino or Image to populate the library. But we wanted films that had worldwide rights and the ability to curate content on to multiple platforms. By building our own library in this way we are also able to distinguish ourselves even more so. We have strong word of mouth so word gets around though we have started to do more targeted outreach now that we have more staff. We have about 15 new films sign up per week from all over the world.

Since our 1500+ filmmakers work directly with us we are a VERY hands on company. We answer our phones, we work closely with the filmmakers and we are just now starting to be much more hands on with our customer base. We are growing so fast it’s hard to keep up sometimes!

If you are looking for a film, what do you look for?

Films must have played as an "Official Selection" at a film festival, however, we do make exceptions in special cases so please don’t hesitate to submit your work to us if your film hasn’t yet been accepted to a festival. We do not accept any Pornography or Instructional video submissions. We look for high production value, good story and of course you have to have the legal right to sell the film. Sometimes it is a struggle but we do stick to our mission that every film as an audience and every story has the right to be shared. We try not to make too many judgment calls. There are films on our site that I would not have approved but not for our mission and a few of them sell really well every month. It’s amazing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We remain a fair and open marketplace.

The submission process is very straightforward and free (except the cost of shipping your master to us). Simply go here and set up by clicking on create an account to add information about your film. You’ll then be prompted to print and sign a Filmmaker Agreement and send us the master. Upon receiving and screening your film we will contact you. Release dates are typically slated for two to three weeks after receipt of submissions.

Do you think filmmakers should be thinking about distribution when they’re in pre-production… or even the writing stage? Or, should they simply make the film first, worry about distribution later?

Excellent question! The minute you want to make your film – today’s filmmaker must think about who will watch it and start that dialogue now, the earlier the better.

If they should be thinking about distribution in pre-production… what kinds of things should they be thinking about? What can they do to make their film have a better chance of securing distribution?

Existing in the world means interacting with people. Technology has allowed us to build our own audience and community that supports our efforts as filmmakers. Use it. Hollywood values a film that has a built in audience and marketing campaigns in place. Though the bottom line for Hollywood distribution is you must have a famous, credible name in your movie too. Fortunately the world is your oyster and right now filmmakers have more power than ever before to monetize and self distribute affordably on trust worthy platforms. Hollywood no longer controls the playing field. I suggest that all filmmakers go to Lance Weiler, famed director of Head Trauma and The Last Broadcast shares openly a multitude of ways to get your film out there and how to build an audience. Lance is on our advisory board and he has been hugely instrumental.

Talk about budget. Do you think there’s a minimum budget that a film should have? Is budget an issue?

Budget should not be an issue unless it’s too high. I have seen some unbelievable films made for less than 5K. I have seen films made for 25-50K and many of these films go on to make several hundred thousand dollars. Once again technology has provided us the ability to make first class movies on an economy budget. Big budgets are not cool anymore. The smaller the budget the more one can show their true talents as a filmmaker.

Regardless of budget, what do you think makes one film sell better than another?

Accessibility and marketing. Of course films have to have a good story no matter what but mostly people need to know about it and in these times you can’t just walk around naked one weekend and expect people everywhere to notice. You have to start stripping in pre-production or development.

Talk about the film festivals, particularly the smaller, indie festivals. How should filmmakers approach them?

Filmmakers should strategize their festival play. It’s another expense incurred. Also note that too many festival screenings and awards and standard distribution won’t touch you. Your film becomes damaged goods to Hollywood. They think if no one has scooped you up by the 3rd festival then you’re not worth it. What we are doing is lining up filmmakers to play a festival and after that screening during the Q &A the film is announced that it is available on several platforms. At that point there is press, reviews, heat and attention on the film, In today’s market filmmakers can strategize their distribution and day and date their films. Use the festival like a theatrical. Take advantage of the theater, the audience and the free marketing.

If I’m a filmmaker who’s just finished a film, but hasn’t considered the festivals and hasn’t considered distribution yet, what would you say my next steps are.

Research festivals. You can go to for festival submission service. Be sure to apply to your local film festival your community will want to support you first. You can apply to as many festivals as you want but be choosy about your first 3. Get to know the festival directors and programmers. They all know each other and share their experiences about filmmakers. For God sakes do not be a prima donna, be kind, patient and forgiving to everyone at the festival – it will make a huge difference. Follow the rules don’t create issues for the festival.

How does horror sell on Indieflix? Any thoughts on the the indie-horror scene?

Horror and docs sell well on IndieFlix. I think there is a lot of easy, fun alternative marketing that can be done to monetize and market films in the horror genre. It has such a dedicated fan base.

Talk about the indie film scene… where’s it headed? What’s next? What can indie filmmakers do to prepare for the future?

Filmmakers need to be online and be willing to share themselves with their community. They will support your work from one movie to the next and each time it gets easier and easier. Luddites lose! The filmmakers and the cast and crew should be talking about the film. The film should have it’s own profile pages on sites. Start sharing little pieces of the movie before it is out. Ask for advice from your online community – keep the questions simple and direct. Put trailers and clip on line everywhere – easily done via Keep your rights, keep it non-exclusive, check out references before putting your content up for sale on some cool site. Forget DRM it’s only going to hold you back. If you film is available everywhere and it is affordable there’s no need to pirate. Don’t be too protective. Pick a scene and let people mash up your work and spread it around. It’s free marketing for you. Think of it like letting your kid play with other kids in the playground. Let go and let it grow.

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