InDplay and The New Art of Film Distribution

Justin Juul November 20, 2006

The Redwood City-based startup InDplay is like an online dating service for the film industry. Only instead of courting one or two distributors at a time, InDplay makes it possible for a filmmaker or rights holder to seduce them all at once. Now in beta, the company issued some big news in November, when it announced that, with venture capital from William Hearst and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, they’d signed on Allied Artists International library of 20,000-plus classics and obscurities. The InDplay library already features a variety of contemporary docs and art films.

The site is a place where the seller (a filmmaker, producer, sales agent, distributor, etc.) joins with a few button clicks to find buyers (anyone who is interested in licensing or acquiring the rights to film and video properties), who pay a small fee and immediately gain access to the home pages for every film or DVD catalog on the site. The home pages are standardized and include synopsis, actors, a list of available rights, and sometimes even a trailer. As an added bonus, members can take advantage of InDplay’s promotional options and message board, where film industry experts will answer questions regarding distribution, promotion, etc. recently had the chance to speak with Julie Baumgartner, director of marketing and business development at InDplay, regarding the highs and lows of Internet distribution.

SF360: What are some of the benefits of Internet distribution for filmmakers?

Julie Baumgartner: Benefits of Internet distribution for filmmakers include instant access to audiences and speed to market, low barriers to entry — meaning that filmmakers can get their film up and running on any user-generated site as long as they say they have all rights clearances — and low cost of distribution. Internet distribution can also facilitate dialogue between the filmmaker and the audience to validate assumptions or generate user feedback. Many filmmakers still rely on focus groups before a theatrical release, but this is evolving. An example of this evolution is the film “Snakes on a Plane.