Independent Film Development, the name itself says a great deal about the methodology and organizing philosophy of the company, but the ingenuity with which IFLM personnel like CEO Jeff Ritchie have embraced the modern film paradigm/market dynamics speaks volumes about where this enterprise, founded by veteran independent filmmakers, is headed.
The basic business model focuses on three primary vectors:
• Sales Agent – license indy produced film to domestic/international markets
• Negative Pickups – grab projects and produce for studios to capture 5-10% margins
• Production – discover/work-up, produce, and, when distribution is secured via sales arm, distribute as owner in perpetuity of great new films (develop co-financing roles, acquiring products in the development stage)
By giving film makers the tools they need and acting as a sales agent with expert management that really knows the industry back-end, IFLM will be unlocking a creative storehouse that today, sadly, remains daunted by the numerous financial problems associated with film production. Digital film is an especially rich venue and the sheer volume of potential production, as well as related demand that can be satisfied by this business model, is an attractive draw for investors who understand how video and a connected world is changing the nature of the industry. There are so many opportunities and unlike most film producers who make large investments, IFLM is able to generate its revenue without the same level of risk, while bringing better funding synergy to the project as well, something that benefits film makers (who generally don’t know the first thing about back-end tasks like distribution and licensing) and the final product itself.
We live in an age of Hollywood blockbusters developed at the studio level which have massive budgets, extensive logistical support for all aspects of the production process, and most importantly, the press, marketing, and direct market access to the some 60 countries worldwide that consume U.S. films. Given that this market accounts for nearly half of all income for U.S. films and there is within the studio film arena a serious lack of the kind of products that independent film can produce, a demand which has allowed the independent space to thrive, IFLM is organized around the opportunity to bring the tools required by independent film makers to the table.
The company unifies the extensive relationships within the industry and the power of an Internet-connected planet, leveraging mechanisms like wholly owned website HollywoodIndy.com, which provides a one-stop-shop for filmmakers to organize, find agencies/production services, sets, props, and even allowing people to social network together the talent with chat and forums.
This methodology is readily extensible and the crowd sourcing ideas it plays off of are immensely powerful for indy film making in general. The rise of crowd-sourced funding, driven in part by entities like Kickstarter, where people can come together and contribute to the production of an idea they would all like to see produced, has led to IFLM’s announcement of their www.Indiebackers.com platform, proving that the idea of social media-enabled, crowd-sourced production can be extended easily.
If we look at the fundamentals of independent film more closely, we see a huge push to make films for which demand is readily perceived to exist (something like 15k films a year get made) and which could satisfy the demand in the market for new and interesting films, but given the sorry state of affairs, most films are a hectic production scramble that never find an audience. IFLM is looking to change all of that and tap into the massive proliferation of end markets created by burgeoning home entertainment and mobile technologies at the same time.
So there is this serious disconnect between a growing global audience and the film makers. There is an obvious lack of new material coming out of the studio system and what does come out often fails to satisfy the insatiable hunger for great new films.
IFLM can act as a sales agent, a production organizer, and an international seller/distributor for the multibillion dollar indy film space, using web platforms to build up momentum and keep the logistics flowing smoothly. This is particularly interesting because other than the limited crowd-sourcing options, there are only a handful of real players in this indy market. By being able to identify winning projects, produce them, and secure distribution for the film, IFLM is stepping in to territory largely abandoned by the big boys like New Line Cinema and LionsGate, who have largely shifted to the bigger independent films (this just show how fast the baseline metrics for film production are growing, spurred on by the proliferation and falling costs of three-chip digital cameras and the like).
Looking to tackle quality projects along the same lines as those profitable, low-budget productions that the company’s principals have under their belts already, IFLM will farm up good targets through its network, and via industry trade shows/film festivals.
Current projections are to handle some 60 or more films over five years with an average gross licensing fee in the $350k-3M range (non-theatrical outlet revenue). Sales agent commissions will be around 10-30% of the licensing over a 7-25 year interval, with a majority of cost outlays ($40-150k per film on average) attributable to associated marketing requirements.
For more information on this incredible company that has developed a lightweight, powerful growth model for its shareholders, head on over to the Independent Film Development Corp. main site at: www.iFilmsInc.com
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