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Vimeo is very serious about being a major distribution channel for independent small production films — so much so that it’s offering film makers presenting a movie in the Toronto International Film Festival $10,000 to debut their work on the site before anywhere else.
Under a new partnership, Vimeo will give the $10,000 as an advance to any film that is willing to be released exclusively online through Vimeo. Film makers can set up a pay-per-view price to see the movie through Vimeo, and subsequently use it to make money after its finished at the box office. Since launching in March, Vimeo’s on-demand PPV service has added over 2,000 titles globally.
“Vimeo On Demand can be a great complement to traditional distribution channels,” Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor told VentureBeat. “This is a first-of-its-kind offering.”
Trainor said that he was not sure if the same tactics Vimeo is using at TIFF would be used at future film festivals, but he left the door open that it could potentially happen.
“We’re trying to find the right formula,” Trainor said. “We’ll see how it plays out and what the adoption rate of this offer is.”
As for the program, those that accept the advance money will distribute their film on Vimeo for a period of 30 days — or however long it takes Vimeo to recoup its expenses (e.g. making $10,000 off that particular film). After that, Vimeo will split all future profits from the film 90/10 — with 90 percent of profits going to the film’s creator. And just like with others that set up a pay-per-view movie, the film’s creator wil be able to set the price of the film, enable which regions can watch it, and how long it will stay online.
The move is pretty smart for Vimeo. The site has a chance to really grow as a home for watching new indie movies before everyone else, and might even steal some attention away from the more traditional distribution channels, such as digital rentals (via stores like Amazon or iTunes) and on-demand rentals through cable and satellite TV providers.
Additional reporting by Sean Ludwig.