Fresh off the announcement of Seed&Spark’s partnership with FiOS TV, founder of the crowdfunding platform, Emily Best sat down with Verizon to shared details about the new collaboration and revealed her thoughts about the always evolving indie film industry.
During the interview, Best discussed the platform’s history, including its successes:
“Seed&Spark is the world’s leading crowdfunding platform made just for independent film. Every time an audience member supports the making of a moving picture project (funding, following, sharing) they earn “Sparks,” which can be redeemed to watch movies on Seed&Spark’s built-in streaming platform. Supporting films lets you watch more films.
“It’s, in essence, the new ecosystem for filmmakers and audiences. With the highest crowdfunding success rate in the business (84 percent) and distribution pipelines out to iTunes, Verizon FiOS, and independent cinemas across the U.S., Seed&Spark provides an unprecedented pipeline for independent filmmakers. Seed&Spark also published a semi-annual print magazine for film audiences, Bright Ideas, featuring the new and dangerous voices of truly independent cinema.”
While chatting about the indie film category, Best noted:
“Even in the very best- case scenario — a filmmaker makes an exceptional independent film that gets into Sundance and gets picked up by a big traditional distributor — the deals are such that the filmmaker very rarely makes money. The investors need to get paid back; the distributor recoups marketing plus their percentage; and the exhibitors typically take up to half. That best-case scenario for classic distribution happens for 0.1 percent of independent films made just in the U.S. alone each year.
“That said, we all have unprecedented access to the authoring tools available to the most famous people, the biggest brands, the biggest distributors. Beyoncé has Instagram and so do I. POTUS [the president of the United States] makes YouTube videos, and so can you.
“Filmmakers no longer have to pray they get into a great festival in order to get a distribution deal and catapult their career forward. They can use crowdfunding not just to fund their films, but also to prove to investors there is demand. They can distribute at very low cost through the kinds of deals we’re building with iTunes, Verizon and Emerging Pictures; control their fate; and participate in the recoupment from dollar one.
“Don’t get us wrong. The technology is easy to use but building an audience is a lot of hard work (to say nothing of actually making a great film). The payoff is that you get to create the film you set out to make, the way you wanted to make it—collaborating and shifting along the way as many times as you feel necessary to create the film you want to share.
“It’s about time we redefined independent filmmaking for the masses: It is not about a budget level. It’s about control. Let’s say you are making a feature film for $50,000, but in order to get that money you gave away your ownership of the film and control over the final cut, where and how it’s distributed. That’s not independent. If you raise $50,000 or $5 million from your supporters because they love what you make and trust you to make the best decisions for the film, then you have independence.”
In regards to the new FiOS TV partnership, Best added:
“Verizon provides a huge platform for these filmmakers and their diverse voices to reach people they would never otherwise be able to reach.
“Our dream has always been to give rise to a sustaining creative middle class of creative entrepreneurs. In order to do that, we have to not only teach them how to use the tools for audience building (which we do with our nationwide #stayindietour), but we have to provide them with meaningful pipelines to monetize those audiences. And from an audience perspective, we want to deliver the exceptional, diverse voices of these phenomenal independent creators right into people’s homes. We believe this is about expanding empathy. The greater access audiences have to more, different kinds of stories, the better we understand each other over time.”