Monetizing short film

TheK

Member
People say that you can't make money on a short film. I understand there's not much incentive for a distributor to buy a short film.

However, the articles I've read related to short film distribution never mentioned selling a film on Amazon's on demand platform. They focus on film festivals.

If you're able to run a successful marketing campaign and make a quality short, is it realistic to think people would be willing to pay a dollar to watch it on Amazon?
 

sfoster

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
It doesn't sound realistic to me... people can pay $1 and watch a multi-million dollar feature length blockbuster movie. I don't know anyone that's paid money to watch a short film. Is that the redbox price or has it gone up

Have you ever paid money to watch a short film?
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
If you're able to run a successful marketing campaign and make a quality short, is it realistic to think people would be willing to pay a dollar to watch it on Amazon?
If the marketing campaign is successful I think it's realistic to think
people would be willing to pay a dollar to watch a short film.

In the past six months how many short films have you paid to watch?
What was it that inspired you to pay the money?

A more important question for you to answer: do you know anyone
who has paid to watch a quality short film? Especially a non-filmmaker?
I suspect you don't (I don't) so how do you reach those people with
a marketing campaign? Do you have ideas on how to market to that
demographic?
 

seanmannion

Member
Profiting off of it would be tough. My business partner and I put her horror short film (a long short at around 23 minutes, about the length of a TV episode) and people have bought and rented it and just watched it free streaming (we get a little bit from that) on Amazon Prime and through our VHX account.

Money came in. That's possible.

We didn't profit off of it, though, not with how much it cost to produce and advertise to get the views we did get. It still gets views pretty regularly 2 years later. It will probably still be getting them as long as we keep it up, but I don't think it will ever actually profit.
 

TheK

Member
It doesn't sound realistic to me... people can pay $1 and watch a multi-million dollar feature length blockbuster movie. I don't know anyone that's paid money to watch a short film. Is that the redbox price or has it gone up

Have you ever paid money to watch a short film?
No, I haven't. But I also haven't heard of a short film that interests me and looks professional. People pledge on Kickstarter to support short films and are paying way more than a dollar. So why wouldn't that translate to selling one outside of kickstarter?
 

sfoster

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
No, I haven't. But I also haven't heard of a short film that interests me and looks professional. People pledge on Kickstarter to support short films and are paying way more than a dollar. So why wouldn't that translate to selling one outside of kickstarter?
There's no scarcity of professional short films that are nominated for oscars.
That's amazing that none of them interest you.

You ask why it doesn't translate.. all I can do is repeat what I said before.
For $1 you can go to redbox and get a multimillion dollar blockbuster film and there are more great films than people have time to watch.

It's a full length movie with actors i recognize and great special effects and action scenes.
Why would I take the time to sift through a bunch of short films that are bad and dont interest me when there is a multi-billion dollar feature length industry devoted to bringing me amazing entertainment already in place?

There has to be something more to your short film than a well made movie because there is no shortage of well made movies.
 

TheK

Member
If the marketing campaign is successful I think it's realistic to think
people would be willing to pay a dollar to watch a short film.

In the past six months how many short films have you paid to watch?
What was it that inspired you to pay the money?

A more important question for you to answer: do you know anyone
who has paid to watch a quality short film? Especially a non-filmmaker?
I suspect you don't (I don't) so how do you reach those people with
a marketing campaign? Do you have ideas on how to market to that
demographic?
I know the websites the target audience would visit , so I'd have to make connections with editors of those sites. Possibly put ads on YouTube channels they'd visit if affordable. Conventions would also be a way to draw attention to a short film project. However, that wouldn't guarantee people in that group are the the type to buy a short film.

Personally, I don't know any.
 

TheK

Member
Profiting off of it would be tough. My business partner and I put her horror short film (a long short at around 23 minutes, about the length of a TV episode) and people have bought and rented it and just watched it free streaming (we get a little bit from that) on Amazon Prime and through our VHX account.

Money came in. That's possible.

We didn't profit off of it, though, not with how much it cost to produce and advertise to get the views we did get. It still gets views pretty regularly 2 years later. It will probably still be getting them as long as we keep it up, but I don't think it will ever actually profit.
From your experience, what budget constraints would one need to work within to break even using the same sales strategy?
 

TheK

Member
There's no scarcity of professional short films that are nominated for oscars.
That's amazing that none of them interest you.

You ask why it doesn't translate.. all I can do is repeat what I said before.
For $1 you can go to redbox and get a multimillion dollar blockbuster film and there are more great films than people have time to watch.

It's a full length movie with actors i recognize and great special effects and action scenes.
Why would I take the time to sift through a bunch of short films that are bad and dont interest me when there is a multi-billion dollar feature length industry devoted to bringing me amazing entertainment already in place?

There has to be something more to your short film than a well made movie because there is no shortage of well made movies.
If the fillm was based on content that you were familiar with, like a short story or cartoon strip, would that increase the chances of you paying for it?
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
If you're able to run a successful marketing campaign and make a quality short, is it realistic to think people would be willing to pay a dollar to watch it on Amazon?
Nope sorry not realistic at all.

Most people buying music have already heard the song and plan to listen to it repeatedly across devices, for years to come. Great investment right? Short films don't work like that. Or it would already be a "thing" in this digital age.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
No, I haven't. But I also haven't heard of a short film that interests me and looks professional.
That's extraordinary.

Hundreds of short films nominated for the Academy Award,
some made by experienced, talented directors and none of
them interested you or look professional to you. Including
the winners of the Oscar.

Tens of thousands of short films on Vimeo and YouTube yet
not one interests you or looks professional.

I go to three to five film festivals each year and watch their
short film blocks – often 30 films in each festival. Many are
not to my liking but I have seen hundreds of very professional
looking shorts. Hell, I have seen several amazing, professional
looking short films made for the 48Hour Film Project.

Some skilled, talented, established writers and directors have
made short films, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh,
Mike Judge, Dee Rees, F. Gary Gary, Barry Jenkins, Paul Thomas Anderson,
Tim Burton, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron...

None of them interest you or look professional.

I love short films. I look forward to seeing yours. I'll pay a dollar
as soon as you put it up for viewing.
 

Sweetie

Member
It's possible but unlikely. Here is of the most profitable short that I know about:

Doctor Horrible Sing Along - 3 x 14min shorts.

Joss Whedon funded the project himself (at just over $200,000)

...during an interview with Forbes that "with the movie and the soundtrack and everything we’ve been able to do with it, we made over $3 million with it"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Horrible%27s_Sing-Along_Blog

You have to also take into account those involved were already big names. This was also shot during and shown when the writers strike of 2008 closed down many (if not most) productions in the region. I'm not sure if this storm in a teacup would be easy to replicate but if all you have to do is make three successful tv shows so you can make a profit from a short, there's still hope for us, right?
 

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