What do you do after you've collected just about every movie available and have it up for rent? Start making your own movies. Internet warehouse Netflix, the largest and most popular Internet rental site, is looking to begin producing it's own indie films. When independent directors can't find funding or interest in their films for the theater, some have turned to Netflix and found them more than willing:
. The company also has quietly become the exclusive distributor of more than 100 indie films, and it's even starting to produce original movies. Netflix will make The Puffy Chair available to its subscribers, and it helped the Duplass brothers get a nonexclusive DVD distribution deal so the movie will be offered at Blockbuster and other rental chains, too. The company even teamed with Roadside Attractions to fund a theatrical release.
Not only does this let independent directors have their works shown around the world with ease, it gives them a much cheaper way to do it than traditional marketing. It can even be a saving grace for some films that do dismally in the theaters but find a great niche on the Internet as a Netflix title. Of course, it's all marketing – and Netflix doesn't deny that they see this as just another tool:
Hastings says Red Envelope is something of a mission for Sarandos. "For him, it's as much about giving back to the film community as it is about growing the Netflix content base," he says. But, Sarandos insists, "this isn't philanthropy. We're not 'supporting the arts.' This is a market-based solution using technology."
Ever year, more and more people become interested in independent films, especially as theater attendance is on the decline. Sometimes it helps to team up with a giant.