Many filmmaker and even more film consumers just want to know when work will be on Netflix. In recent years, this has become more difficult than it was previously. IT used to be that it was a relatively easy sale to get on Netflix, although the money wasn’t very good. More recently, the bar has been raised substantially, and the money you get for it hasn’t increased as much as we may have liked it to. What follows is an outline of how to get your film on Netflix, both as an original and as an acquisition.
How do I become a Netflix original?
To become a Netflix original, you must be picked up by Netflix early on in development. Generally, you’ll need to have contacts that can get you into meetings with the higher-end development executives at Netflix. You’re also going to need to have a strong script and package already in place. You might even need some money already in place, although that’s less important given the way most of their original deals are structured.
At this point, if they take the project you’ll get a Presale stating that the money will be paid to you once the film is delivered complete. After that, you’ll have to take it to a bank to liquidate the presale so you’ll be able to make the movie on the likely ambitious schedule they’ll put you on.
Generally, the pay for this is pretty good, looking very similar to other high end presales. If it’s well managed, and you focus on financing sources like tax incentives as part of your mix, you’ll make a decent wage and everyone involved will end up much better off. Including your investors.
What Netflix pays for acquisitions is a different matter, as is the process for your film being acquired by Netflix. First, it’s important to note that you can’t approach Netflix yourself. You will need to go through either a local distributor or a sales agent to get to Netflix. I do have contacts in this department, but it’s not something I’ve done a lot of business with.
If I’m completely honest, I also wouldn’t pay some of the better known aggregators to make this approach for you. Given the volume of business that goes through them, it’s generally a very low success rate. Sure, some of them will refund money if unsuccessful, but often there are hidden fees and the money is tied up for a decent amount of time. When those fees are in excess of 10k, that’s not really good for most filmmakers.
It used to be that Netflix would take almost any content that was well made, and they thought they would get a decent amount of views for. In the recent months however, Netflix’s Acquisition strategy has been refocused to only accept films with a domestic theatrical, often demanding 6 figures at the box office to even consider the film. While there are ways around this, it’s inadvisable to much other than work with a reputable distributor who has deep connections to the platform.
In regards to their distribution payments, there’s a lot more that I’d love to say but can’t say publicly due to existing contractual obligations as well as other concerns regarding pending business.
DVDs Through the Mail
Most of the time when people think of Netflix, they think of their Subscription Video on Demand offering. However, there are a surprising number of people who still subscribe to their DVD offering. Generally, they way Netflix gets these DVDs is by simply buying them at wholesale from the manufacturer. They don't tend to buy too many DVDs, so even if you're getting lots of rentals you end up not making a whole lot of sales. Most of the time, they buy fewer than 100 DVDs, which is less money than you probably think it is. You don't see any money per rental beyond the initial purchase price.
That said, since DVDs are almost always non-exclusive rights, the additional revenue does help, although it's nowhere near the amount of money you'd see from something like a Redbox deal.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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