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 email@example.com or you can contact I Pak customer service directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (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 (http://www.transitmedia.net/) 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 email@example.com.