Monthly Archives: February 2011

PMD and the Oscar’s

We are so excited to announce the Oscar success of “God of Love” (in the category of live action short film), which, our good friend and former assistant here at TOTBO, Stephen Dypiango, acted as PMD. Stephen, now working on several projects as PMD, was given a special shout-out by director, Luke Matheny‘s Oscar acceptance speech.

Congratulations Stephen and to the rest of the “God of Love” production!

Check out, a short interview of Stephen when he found out about the films Oscar nomination and Luke Matheny’s acceptance speech and below:

Think Outside the Box Office Workshop

Guest Post: How to Maximize Revenue Selling on Amazon

Today’s guest post comes from filmmaker Jed Riffe who I met this year at Slamdance. He told me that he was surprised at how little money filmmakers make selling their films through Amazon and that he had a system that maximized return from Amazon sales at 80%. I of course immediately asked him to write a post to tell other filmmakers how to do it – and he has generously obliged:

How independent filmmakers can maximize their profits selling and fulfilling DVDs on by Jed Riffe

There are two main options that I use to sell DVDs: 1) Self fulfillment for the orders from my websites. 2) Self fulfillment for the orders from my Amazon. I don’t use Fulfillment by Amazon and I will tell you why:

Self Fulfillment from sales on my websites:
I have three documentary film websites that sell DVDs directly to customers ( and a consumer can go online to my websites, read about each film, see one or more trailers or clips and if interested, purchase a DVD. On my websites I sell DVDs of my seven, nationally broadcast documentaries for $24.95 plus $10 Shipping and Handling and any applicable state sales tax. I use Paypal as my shopping cart and pay them a fee of $1.31 or approximately 3.75% for each sale. It is easy to fulfill these orders myself. I drop the DVD and a list of all the films in the Jed Riffe Films Collection in the mail and it is done. I spend .25 cents for the mailing envelope and $1.92 in postage and pocket the rest $31.47.
Continue reading →

Guest Post: Fulfilment Options from Breakthrough Distribution

First off – the next Totbo workshop is in Vancouver in just 2 weeks: February 26 and 27th being organized by DOC BC with support from the NFB and British Columbia Film.   If you are in the Vancouver area – I hope to see you there!

Today’s guest post is from Jeff Rosen from Breakthrough Distribution who helps clients replicate their DVDs and  connect with fulfillment companies.  For those of you who have bought the book from my store – you’ll perhaps remember one of the bonus gifts when you buy the book is a discount on replication provided by Breakthrough Distribution for purchasers of the book.   In the aftermath of the Neoflix debacle, Jeff has taken the time to outline a few fulfillment options for filmmakers:

E-Commerce & Fulfillment Suggestions

DIY: If your sales volume is low and/or you want to maximize the amount you make per sale, fulfilling from your office or home is the most cost-effective option. You can set up PayPal (or other shopping cart/payment account) and ship orders as they come in. This allows you to control the funds, manage the relationship with clients, and ensure your products are sent out on time.

Amazon Fulfillment Services: Amazon provides several options, ranging from simply storing and shipping your items to providing payment processing, customer service, and listing products on These options range from fulfillment fees of $3.50 for a single DVD to 55% of the total sale amount. You can see these options at (Jon’s note – On Thursday I’ll have another post about how to maximize fulfillment through Amazon.

Transit Media (TM): If you are seeking to have a reliable third party handle all aspects of fulfillment, we recommend Transit Media, TM has been in business over 30 years and provides e-commerce/fulfillment services to 100+ film distributors and independent producers; this includes Women Make Movies and New Day Films. We have been working with TM for approximately 18 months and have 35+ clients there that are happy with their services.

TM sets up your shopping cart at no cost, provides an integrated payment processing- fulfillment-customer service platform that enables filmmakers to simply and easily sell any merchandise (DVDs, CDs, t-shirts, hats, posters, etc.) quickly and easily from their websites. When a customer purchases a DVD/merchandise from your site, TM processes the payment and ships the products(s) domestically or internationally. Transit manages all customer service questions/issues related to the purchase. Accounts are reconciled on a bi-monthly basis = you get paid every 2 weeks. There is no set up fees, monthly minimums, or hidden charges. TM takes phone orders and purchase orders and provides unlimited customer service.

Handling Fees + Actual Postage:

You can charge any amount you want to the customer for shipping and handling. For example, you charge:

o   $25 for your DVD + $7 for shipping/handling = $32 total revenue to you

o   Transit charges you $7

o   Postage is $2

o   Transaction fee of 5% = $1.35

o   $21.65 net revenue to you

TM processes phone, Internet, fax and purchase orders at no additional charge.

Transaction Fee: In addition to shipping/handling fees, there’s a fee of 5% on the total transaction/sale. This covers the cost of processing payments, order processing, reporting, accounting and customer service.

Expedited Service: additional fee for overnight (FedEx), international orders, and other premium shipping services.

The contact person at TM is Jim Knox

Jim Knox
Transit Media
Box 1084
190 Route 17M
Harriman, N.Y. 10926

(P) 845-774-7335

To obtain special rate of $7 (normally $8.10), please mention to Jim that you were referred by Jon Reiss/Jeff Rosen/Breakthrough Distribution

If you have questions about Transit Media or have other needs (e.g.,
DVD replication, authoring or outreach) please call (310.425.2312) or email Jeff Rosen @

DVD Replication

Includes glass master, replication, full-color on-disc printing, full-color cover printing, black DVD case, assembly and overwrap. Shipping and freight charges are additional.

• 1,000 units: $1.09/unit

• 2,500 units: $0.95/unit

• 5,000 units: $0.92/unit

• 10,000 units: $0.82/unit

• 25,000 units: $0.68/unit

Turnaround: 10 days from approval of check discs and artwork. Continue reading →

PMDs In Action

As you know, Sheri Candlerand I have been reaching out to working Producer’s of Marketing and Distribution (PMDs) and a few have contacted me with some festival and awards news:

Stephen Dypiangco who is currently working as a PMD on “How to Live Forever” by Mark Wexler is also working as a PMD on a short film  “God of Love” which was just nominated for an Oscar.   Pretty exciting for Stephen and his team – and the first Oscar nom for a film with a PMD.   Perhaps next year there will be a feature nominated with a PMD!

Sally Hogsdon who is based in England is working as a PMD for “Sound It Out” was just announced as part of the SXSW lineup.  She is working with James Collie of “Beyond Biba” fame who is working as the distribution consultant on the film.    I had the pleasure of meeting when I was in London last spring for the first TOTBO workshop.

Kinyarwanda which was one of the IFP Filmmaker Lab films in 2010 won the World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic at Sundance.  Tommy Oliver started off on Kinyarwanda as the PMD but then got so involved in the film he now has full producer credit (and I am hoping he still claims PMD credit as well).

Congrats to all.  If you are a PMD and have some exciting news and/or want to be in the loop for a PMD tips, news etc – drop me an email through this blog!

Troubles at Neoflix – What Fulfillment Alternatives are There for Filmmakers Part 1

Troubles at Neoflix – What Fulfillment Alternatives are There for Filmmakers Part 1

For those of you who have read my book Think Outside the Box Office and my Filmmaker Magazine article on fulfillment from last winter, know that I thought highly of the shopping cart and fulfillment company Neoflix. I used them for Bomb It and had a good experience with them. I also liked what seemed to be an honest commitment to independent film and DIY solutions for filmmakers. The head of the company JC seemed genuinely interested in helping filmmakers.

I am deeply saddened and disturbed that this has turned sour. I have received reports from a number of filmmakers that they have not been paid by Neoflix for months. Some filmmakers are owed hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. When I discussed the situation with JC he indicated that in fact they were having financial problems, were trying to make payment plans with filmmakers and that they had not taken on new clients since September. Most importantly he was trying to raise a round of capital for a new venture that would help them pay back filmmakers. I have not heard that they have yet raised that money. I asked JC this week as to what the status was – he indicated that they are weighing their options and will make an announcement soon.

Today I received a report that the company that Neoflix actually subcontracted out to do the fulfillment of goods, I-Pak has also had financial difficulties with Neoflix and has requested that any filmmaker who has used Neoflix remove their goods from their warehouse by March 1st. If you use Neoflix – you can either contact Patrick Barry – Neoflix’s VP and GM at or you can contact I Pak customer service directly at: (I Pak is still a fulfillment company and some filmmakers might want to switch to their services to save the cost of shipping their goods back to them – however considering the circumstances I find this unlikely).

Secondly, one of the filmmakers affected adversely by the Neoflix situation, Matthew Arnold (director of “The Long Green Line”) has started a survey of filmmakers who have used Neoflix – asking them how much money they lost, when they last got paid, if customers received their orders and other questions. You can find the survey here.

Finally is the task of finding a new fulfillment companies for filmmakers to use – not just those who are leaving Neoflix but for all filmmakers. I have continued to hear good things about Transmit Media ( who I included in the Filmmaker Magazine article. Breakthrough Distribution is another company to work with (they work directly with Transmit) concerning replication and fulfillment needs.I did have a very good experience with 4th Way Fulfillment who I also wrote about in that article, but I would still say that 4th Way is mainly an option if you are going to sell lots of merchandise. I recently met a filmmaker who has had great success with Fulfillment by Amazon. He has promised me a guest blog post so stay tuned for that. Topspin is opening their doors in March and they have some technology that looks very exciting. Topspin is probably best used in advance of a films release and then through the release as opposed to the end of a release. (I switched Bomb It and Think Outside the Box Office over to Topspin in August of 2010 in order to do a test run on that new platform – I will be writing more about Topspin in the near future.) Sheri Candler has wrote a good intro review of Topspin last fall in Microfilmmaker Magazine.

Finally, I have also spoken to many filmmakers who do their own fulfillment. They take orders through PayPal and then pick pack and ship themselves. If you are not selling that many DVDs a month (and perhaps only selling DVDs) this might be the best option for you.

I am going to investigate more fulfillment options in the coming month. I would love to hear what other companies you might be using and what your experiences have been so as to build out a better list of companies. If you have suggestions or would like more information on the Neoflix situation please contact me through my blog or at