Vimeo Pledges $10 Million for Creators Using Vimeo On Demand

/ Mar 6, 2014


If you’re an independent filmmaker, Vimeo wants to be your best friend. In the past year, the company has worked hard to court filmmakers at the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance to distribute their projects exclusively on Vimeo. Now, on the eve of South by Southwest, Vimeo is making its biggest pitch to date: $10 million in financial and marketing support.

First, let’s go back to the year 2013:

Last March, Vimeo launched Vimeo On Demand, which allows filmmakers to sell their work directly to fans, with the company only taking a 10% cut of all sales. This was followed by the company’s film festival program, introduced at the Toronto International Film Festival, where filmmakers were offered a $10,000 advance in exchange for putting their films exclusively on Vimeo for a limited time (30 days or until the investment is recouped). Then came Vimeo’s crowdfunding program, which set aside half-a-million dollars to help select filmmakers market their projects, once again in exchange for Vimeo having limited-time exclusive rights to distribute said content.

In addition to all of this, Vimeo On Demand offers filmmakers greater control over how they market and sell their content. Features include geo-blocking, the ability to set pricing, and even in-player transactions.

“The power of distribution is moving closer and closer to the filmmakers themselves,” says Greg Clayman, GM of audience networks at Vimeo. In the past, filmmakers had to rely on selling the rights to their content to someone else and hope that said distributor knew what to do with it, he says. What Vimeo is pitching, is the ability for filmmakers to oversee all aspects of distribution and monetization.

What Vimeo is providing, is assistance where its needed the most: the bank account.

The new $10 million fund is an expansion of the earlier festival and crowdfunding programs. Vimeo has a list of 20 festivals where it plans to be active. It includes staples like Toronto, Sundance, Tribeca, Venice, and Cannes, but also encompasses others from San Francisco to Berlin.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Berlin International Film Festival
  2. Cannes International Film Festival
  3. Edinburgh International Film Festival
  4. Fantastic Fest
  5. Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
  6. Hot Docs
  7. International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
  8. International FIlm Festival Rotterdam
  9. LA Film Fest
  10. Locarno International Film Festival
  11. New York Film Festival
  12. San Francisco International Film Festival
  13. Sheffield Doc/Fest
  14. Sundance Film Festival
  15. SXSW Film Festival
  16. Telluride Film Festival
  17. Toronto International Film Festival
  18. Tribeca Film Festival
  19. True/False Film Fest
  20. Venice International Film Festival

With the crowdfunding program, the requirements are that filmmakers have successfully raised $10,000 for their project. From there, Vimeo selects which ones it wants to lend financial support to.

The deal is the same as before: In exchange for the $10,000 advance, Vimeo retains exclusive distribution rights for a certain period of time — usually 30 days.

But it goes beyond that, too. As Clayman explains it, there are filmmakers Vimeo has been talking to who are more interested in receiving marketing assistance. To meet that need, Vimeo will use part of the fund to help build websites for filmmakers, or provide translation services, again, in exchange for an exclusive window on Vimeo.

Vimeo will also help filmmakers who it doesn’t lend funds to. “If you want to distribute non-exclusively, we will give you a free [Vimeo] Pro account,” says Clayman. The only requirements are that the project premiered at any of the 20 festivals listed above, or raised at least $10,000 on a crowdfunding platform.

Outside of the festival and crowdfunding programs, Vimeo is also interested in acquiring individual titles and catalogs from filmmakers, distributors, brands, and other rights-holders. These deals can be on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis, depending on where a transactional VOD platform like Vimeo fits in the “life-cycle” of that particular film or collection, according to Clayman.

Overall, though, the message is clear: If you’re a talented filmmaker (this includes those creating premium web series, by the way), Vimeo is interested in working with you. And it’s offering a lot to make that happen — including an ad-free platform that topped 168 million unique visitors worldwide (80% year-over-year growth) in January. “We are empowering creators to share and monetize content in the best way possible — via direct/paid relationships with viewers,” says Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor. “We think that’s a very attractive proposition.”

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