Democratising the Filmmaking Process Volume 1
DIY Distribution : How to Get Your Short or Feature onto Amazon Prime – For Free
There's surprisingly little information available on how to get your films onto Amazon.
Many streaming services such as Netflix and iTunes give the impression of being a closed shop regarding streaming genuine Indie films – i.e. Your Film.
Streaming on these platforms can be done, but not very easily for individual films or filmmakers sadly.
To even stand a chance of your film becoming available on Netflix you are required to submit it together with another 49 features, all requiring very strict deliverables (some platforms even require 200 films). Clearly this is not a realistic option for DIY filmmaking.
Little has changed from the Digital Revolution, and Sales Agents or Traditional Distributors are still running the show.
Recently though, half-way houses – Aggregators such as Distribber (https://www.distribber.com) have stepped in to assist in the path from DIY to Netflix. And unsurprisingly this is not a free service. For a fee they will submit your film, along with those from many others Filmmakers to meet the VOD minimum submission requirements. They will also organise your deliverables - again for a charge.
This is actually a nice way to potentially have your movie available on Netflix but it has upfront costs of around $1599, and potentially more depending on which other platforms you'd like them to submit your film to. You may end up paying thousands to have your movie streamed outside of Vimeo and YouTube.
One of the other platforms they also can assist with is Amazon Prime...again for a fee...
We believe that every filmmaker can, and should start on an even playing field. Amazon is a great tool for DIY distribution and it's actually very simple to make your films available there. What is even better is they accept individual films.
Information should be free so we'll show you how you can, without any cost make your movie available to sell on Amazon.
Step One: Click on the following link:
You will be presented with the above screen. It's fairly self explanatory. You set up an account and enter banking and tax details - for collecting your payment!
Step Two: Prepare Your Deliverables:
Your movie will need to be prepared in the correct format to be accepted by Amazon - they are strict.
We use Davinci Resolve as it is simple and free.
MP4 is the container and H264 is the codec. For a 90 minute feature 3GB is a good size for quality. Resolve offers options for reducing the bitrate in order to keep the movie within a reasonable size.
Step Three: Prepare the MetaData.
When adding a new title you are presented with 4 boxes:
Catalog Listing, Cast + Crew, Video Assets and Availability.
We'll get onto Video Assetts on Section 5. Catalog and Cast+Crew are very straight forward. Key Art is slightly awkward.
Key Art 1 - Usually should be the Title as it appears on screen, although you can use a poster. It will need to be exactly 16:9 (1920x1080) to be accepted. If you're movie was shot in 2.39:1 it will not accept the letterboxing , they refer to this as extra padding.
Key Art 2 - Based on an A1 Poster. This will be how your film is presented to the world, so use a good and strong poster with a clear title. This will likely need to be trimmed to 1200x1600.
We use Apple Preview to make any sizing changes. Ideally all should be .jpg file format.
When PUBLISHING, which will be covered later, Key Art will be the most likely error you will encounter. And it can be very frustrating.
Step Four: Closed Captions
In order for your movie to be accepted onto Amazon you will need to create a closed caption file.
We use Rev.com as they are relatively cheap (£50-75 for a feature) but you can do it yourself using free tools, even Apple TextEdit is possible, just change the extension to '.srt'.
A closed caption document will look something like this:
Step Five : Upload
The final steps are also very simple and self explanatory.
Point the Mezzanine File to your .mp4 movie
Make sure to select the appropriate language.
Point the Captions to your .srt file. Make sure you select the correct frame rate and language.
If you have a trailer, add that.
Hit Save and you are ready for the final stage.
Step Six: Availability and Publish
This is slightly more compicated, but relatively straight forward.
Here is where you select your pricing, which countries it is available in and whether you allow it to be rented, downloaded or given away free.
Including it as a free Amazon Prime option will limit your sales but increase your audience. You should decide carefully how you would like to market your hard work. You can change your options at any time, and individually for different countries.
FINALLY - click 'PUBLISH'. If you have managed this without any errors your film will be ready to stream on Amazon Prime in 2-4 days!
Amazon Prime is a fantastic resource for all filmmakers to have their work screened to a large, international audience. For anyone interested in the DIY Process, or Truly Independent Filmmaking Amazon is a must. It should be free, and access to it should be freely and easily available. This is how revolutions start.
However, this is only part of the DIY Distribution Process:
In 'Democratising the Filmmaking Process Volume 2' we will show you how to market your film: Press Releases and Getting your movie watched, reviewed and written about.