Vimeo offers filmmakers $10,000 for first-run digital rights

Filmmakers turning up at this week’s Toronto International Film Festival with new work in hand could score $10,000 from Vimeo if they give the video-sharing site first-run rights to show it exclusively on its Vimeo on Demand platform for a period of one month.

Kerry Trainor, chief executive of the streaming site, told the Wall Street Journal this week that the exclusivity rule applies only to distribution via digital platforms (think iTunes, Netflix, etc), so filmmakers would be free to show their work in movie theaters and on cable channels before it appears on Vimeo, or at the same time.

Distribution difficulties

Distribution is one of the biggest challenges for independent filmmakers. Last year, of around 150 movies premiering at the Toronto festival, only about 30 managed to ink a distribution deal for the lucrative US market.

The film festival’s artistic director, Cameron Bailey, said that by teaming up with Vimeo “that small film from Chile or Indonesia, or that low-budget film from the US” will have a much better chance of reaching a wider audience. The $10,000 payout could, after all, be added to the movie’s marketing budget. Or, knowing how strapped for cash many indie filmmakers are, could actually be the marketing budget.

Movies from the festival which come to Vimeo’s site will be priced at $4.99 per stream. If and when Vimeo makes back the $10,000 (that means hitting about 2,000 streams), revenue will be split according to Vimeo on Demand’s usual terms, ie. 90 percent to the filmmaker and 10 percent to Vimeo.

Trainor told GigaOM that if its Toronto film festival funding initiative proves successful, it could be rolled out on a wider scale.

On demand

Vimeo launched its on-demand service in March to offer Vimeo Pro members an easy way to sell their work directly to the audience. So far, around 2,000 movies are available for viewing, though Vimeo will be hoping the Toronto film festival deal will help bring it more high-quality movies. 

Vimeo on Demand allows filmmakers to set a price and viewing period for streaming their work, though downloads can also be offered. The service is available only to Pro members, a package which currently costs $199 a year and includes other benefits such as 50GB of storage, unlimited HD uploading, advanced statistics, and more besides.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: