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IDFA International Documentary Festival Amsterdam

The 23rd edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the world's largest and most prestigious film event devoted exclusively to non-fiction film and media, will run from 17 - 28 November in the city of Amsterdam.


Documentaries And The Web: A Date With Destiny

Saturday, December 2----At the "think tank" conference dubbed DocAgora, one of the many parallel events here at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA), the marketing, financing and sales opportunities for documentaries on the web was discussed in a lively debate. One of the most vocal proponents was James Fabricant, the head of marketing and content for MySpace UK. Fabricant was one of several speakers who offered some glimpses into the way that documentary filmmakers can use web portals to promote their wares (as they certainly are already doing on

Hollywood studios are already paying MySpace substantial amounts to create online campaigns for movies like X-MEN 3 and SUPERMAN RETURNS. As important, are the efforts of independent filmmakers to build huge communities on such web portals, creating a marketing interest in their films and in reacting to their films.

Fabricant used as an example an American low budget feature FOUR EYED MONSTERS, directed by Suan Bruce and Arin Crumley. "Those guys not only found MySpace a great way to market the film and build an audience for it, but they have also created an innovative distribution model". Anyone who wanted to go to a public screening of the film simply entered their zip code into a special, on-screen field. If over 300 people entered the same zipcode, then the filmmakers would arrange with local exhibitors to arrange a theatrical screening in that community. Talk about customized marketing.

Peter Broderick of consulting firm Paradigm Consulting, pointed to the success of many of his clients who have sold upwards of 20,000 dvds directly from their site for specific and thematic films. With estimates of a $20 profit per unit, that brings profit revenues to a staggering $400,000. All this without a distributor in place. "The new opportunities available to market and sell works on the web has allowed independent filmmakers the flexibility to say no to bad distribution deals and to find ways of building and staying in touch with a community of interest for current and future films", Broderick concluded.

While undoubtedly the Hollywood studios will take the lead in this development, it is encouraging to already see so many financial opportunities for independent filmmakers that are no longer simply on the horizon, but are already here. In the next few years, when downloading of films will be as seamless and uncomplicated as downloading music, the opportunities of marketing via the web will become extremely varied and dynamic. How the documentary film community will embrace these innovations and take advantage of the current keen interest in the non-fiction form is something exciting to watch.

Sandy Mandelberger
Online Festival Dailies Editor

Comments (2)

They sold 20,000 dvds from

They sold 20,000 dvds from their website? So it's possible? Do you know what kind of publicity they had?
Arizona Payroll Company

Online promotion & distribution

Quite interesting debate indeed. Thanks Sandy. As you know, we really believe on creating new online opportunities for festival films. Let's continue exchanging ideas on this theme to implement them...

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About IDFA International Documentary Festival Amsterdam

Online Dailies of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 


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