Here! TV has used short films as interstitials (content that
appears between longer programs) and on their website since they began, but
they are now putting the two together in a new program called Hot Pink Shorts, scheduled to premiere
in early 2009.
The parent company for Here! is Regent Releasing, a full-service
distribution company that works with both straight and LGBT films. Reinhart
says, "We work with independent filmmakers in a wide variety of ways, in
any way you can imagine, from developing original programming that will be
produced and shot by Regent Studios for the (Here! TV) network, or from
acquiring finished films to acquiring films-in-progress that need finishing
Logo provides a variety of distribution and licensing services
to filmmakers. The company has also entered into an unprecedented arrangement
with Netflix to make Logo’s content available online.
Joanne Jacobson, vice president of business development and operations
at Logo, explains, "Our goal is to make our programming available as
widely as possible. And this [deal with Netflix] is another way to do that. We
also want people to enjoy our programming in the way that they want to enjoy
it. Some people like to watch it online, some want to rent a DVD, some want to
watch it on air. Like the rest of MTV Networks, we’re committed to letting our
fans choose the way they want to consume our products."
Logo has a marketing partnership with Netflix, in which Logo enjoys special positioning in Netflix’s gay and lesbian channel as well as their on page with
all of their programming on it. In addition, Logo has provided Netflix with content from Logo’s library that is
not otherwise available on DVD.
One example of this content is Curl Girls, "a series that was successful for us,"
Jacobson says, “but that we did not put onto DVD, and there are a number of
strategic reasons why, including that reality doesn’t tend to sell well on DVD.
But it was very popular for us, and we knew there was a fan base. You can now
access Curl Girls if you are a
Netflix user. You can see every single episode — you can watch it
electronically or rent a DVD."
Jacobson notes that, "The lesbian programming has done
the best on Netflix. [There are] a lot of reasons why that could be. As a
lesbian myself, I suspect it’s because of the dearth of programming for
lesbians, and they’re really hungry for it."
Netflix and Logo also have a co-acquisition agreement,
probably for a few titles each year, where, for instance, Logo will acquire the
on-air rights and Netflix the rental rights. Jacobson says, "What that
means is that there are some deals made that otherwise couldn’t be made because
we have two companies coming together. And the filmmakers are going to get more
exposure, because they’ll be on the Logo page [on Netflix]. We’re excited about
giving a bigger voice to independent filmmakers."
With both conventional distribution companies like Wolfe and
Frameline to consider, and new markets like Logo and Here! providing
distribution services, how does a filmmaker decide: self-distribution or sign a
distribution deal — and with which company?
Ellen Huang, founder of Queer Lounge, says, "The film
industry is tough already, so I recommend filmmakers continue to plug away and
never, ever put all eggs into one basket."
Power Up’s Codikow agrees. "The best way to make money
is to hold your rights and sell them piece by piece by piece. That’s not always
possible in the gay community, because there’s only four people who are buying
movies, and they all know who each other is, and they’re all working together,
and it may not always work that way for you.
"The difference could be from getting, say, $50,000 for
your movie and that’s it, and maybe getting $350,000 if you sell it
yourself," she said. "I mean you hold your rights and selling one to
home video, and one to TV, you sell Europe all by yourself, but you can’t
necessarily do that as a filmmaker."
Filmmakers need to consider their goals and how much time
and energy they want to expend on the post-filmmaking process. If you don your
business hat, go shopping for licensing deals with DVD distributors, broadcast
and cable television stations, and streaming channels like iTunes, Movielink
and CinemaNow, you’re not able to spend time and energy on more creative
pursuits like making your next film.
And making that next film is important. There is an audience out there that’s hungry
for more images of lesbian and bi women’s lives on screen, be it in a theater,
on a television or computer, or on a iPhone. With the increase in distribution
channels available to filmmakers, we viewers can look forward to seeing even
more aspects of our lives reflected in film.