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Online Indie Distribution

1 Jan , 2000  

Written by Tiffany Patrick | Posted by:

A report of three companies who have pioneered independent film distribution online: AtomFilms, BuyIndies and Films4Auction.

Q: How do independent filmmakers get their films seen?
A: Any way they can.

There’s a new way of getting independent films out there that is looking more and more promising: online distribution. The next Academy Award-winning short could be coming to a computer screen near you, and the film could be yours.

The prospect of a film winning Hollywood’s most distinguished honor without ever having screened at a theater is closer than you might think. A few Internet-based companies have recently taken up the challenge of offering independent filmmakers access to a worldwide audience for distribution, altering the way we access and sell films. Moreover, as the number of households and businesses with high-speed or broadband Internet access increases, the prominence of movie theaters or even television as the place to watch movies is being relegated to the occasional Friday night or first date. In the near future, filmmakers will log on to check hit rates and commission earnings the way day traders check the stock market. How so, you say? Log on to these sites and take a look.

Summary: AtomFilms acquires exclusive licenses to the world’s best short films, animations, and digital media, and secures distribution via television networks, airlines, theaters, home video and DVD, the Internet, broadband services, and more.

Details: Seattle-based AtomFilms is quickly emerging as the preeminent showcase and distribution channel for short films and animations. Given the huge success the company has seen since its launch in late 1998, it looks like it may live up to its self-declared title "the Miramax of the Internet." The site hosted five times the expected number of hits during its first month online alone. In its short life as an online short film and animation distribution and entertainment company, AtomFilms has raced to the top of its class, signing more than 80 world-class short films to its catalog, including the 1999 short film Academy Award nominee "Holiday Romance."

While focusing on traditional distribution outlets such as television, theater, and home video, the company’s primary focus is its Internet presence. Providing film content in the form of video streaming is proving to be very lucrative for Atom, and not just on its own interactive Web site. The company is also distributing films to entertainment Web sites such as the GO network, @Home, and Warner Bros. Online.

In its quest to become the leader in what it calls next-generation entertainment, AtomFilms recently acquired PixelWave, an Internet-based content development group. With this acquisition, the company plans to launch a "next-generation entertainment studio." For filmmakers with shorts in the can, on the shelf, or in the works, this spells opportunity. Filmmakers who films get picked up actually get stock in the company. 

More Info: Visit to see short films from around the world or to learn more about submitting your short.

Summary: is an online community to buy and sell independent films. handles the secure online payment and customer service, while filmmakers & small distributors can sell any or all titles on VHS, DVD, 16mm, etc.

Details: Engineered by co-founders Michele LaMura and Geoffry Meek, the start-up opens its virtual doors on January 15 with approximately 50,000 titles in its online catalog. In addition, BuyIndies will offer filmmakers the ability to add their own titles to the catalog, track orders, and receive payment from buyers, all online. BuyIndies brings distribution to the fingertips of filmmakers via the Internet, and is an idea whose time has come.

" is the first company to look at the particular needs of the independent film market and implement specific solutions that make sense," says LaMura. "Essentially, is doing for independent film what did for independent music and eBay did for auctions–bringing a huge, fragmented market into a centralized community of buyers and sellers." handles the secure online ordering and processing of credit cards, and then forwards orders to sellers for shipment. Using a completely automated system, will be able to offer buyers access to a wider selection of indie titles in a central location and offer sellers the opportunity to reach a worldwide audience 24/7. All filmmakers are invited to sign up to start selling their films through the catalog. 

More Info: Visit for more info.

Summary: is a live auction of 20 pre-selected films to take place on March 3, 2000 in Los Angeles.

Details: Going once, going twice, sold. Or so says the William Doyle Galleries of New York about the handful of feature films being readied for the auction block in a live auction to benefit–you guessed it–independent filmmakers themselves. Films4Auction is hosting the world’s first live film auction on March 3 in Los Angeles, where 20 pre-selected films will be sold as a complete buyout to the highest bidder. The company behind the auction is actually called Art in Motion, a partnership started by an entertainment lawyer from Chicago and two film producers from Mexico. The films will be selected on merit and could fetch up to $1 million if they’re good enough, according to Ricardo Del Rio, a partner in Arts in Motion.

The inspiration for this came from Puerto Vallarta, when Arts in Motion founders Hal Kessler, Ricardo Del Rio, and Ramiro Gonzalez shared similar stories about the tribulations of getting their independent films distributed. Recognizing the bottleneck created by too many films passing through a narrow distribution channel, the three devised a plan whereby worthy films could be presented to buyers in a whole new way: auction.

Preparations for the auction are now under way. Once a panel makes its selections, the 20 chosen films will be screened for potential buyers between February 29 and March 2. According to Arts in Motion, close to 1,500 film buyers from around the world are being invited to the auction. After the March 3 auction, Arts in Motion will select an additional 20 films from its submission pool to represent to distributors. 

More Info: Log on to for more details about Arts in Motion or to find out more about the auction. The deadline to submit films has been extended to January 15, 2000.