Indie Black Film

How Do I Get My Film or Documentary On Netflix

Over  my years of working with indie filmmakers there is one question that I get asked over and over again. It is the famous “How do I get my film or documentary On Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime”? As much as I hate to become the “bearer of bad news”, I have to be brutally honest with whoever I am speaking with. It takes a well planned and thought out strategy to achieve this goal. Short of being accepted and winning one of the bigger film festivals(Sundance) you as a independent filmmaker has no chance of directly contacting Netflix’s acquisitions team. They do not accept unsolicited submissions. With so many films being submitted every year to each of these major festivals, the chance of even being picked is slim to none let alone winning the festival. With the so called indie film label being given to films from 100 dollars all the way up to a couple million dollars, how can your film compete on a shoe string budget ? I mean think about it allot of the “indie filmmakers” have connections with most of the bigger studios. Most of the time the are fully funded by them. It almost seems unfair. “How can your no name indie film compete with films from these larger production house’s who have A-list stars in them like Tom Cruise”?  For 98 percent of independent there is no chance of connecting directly to Netflix.

“Another more likely way for your film or documentary to make it into the Netflix catalog is to go thru an aggregator.”

.An aggregator is like a middle man in which their main value is built from getting your film on all major platforms. With  Itunes, Google play, and Amazon Direct these companies can pretty much guarantee your film to make on the these platforms. As long as specs for the film is correct, your film will definitely make these platforms. They offer Netflix and Hulu as an option also.

How aggregators work

  • You will pay a fee(covers packaging,encoding,closed caption, ect)
  • If you are rejected you will receive your money back (minus processing fees)
  • Netflix will offer 1- 2 year licensing deal (Amazon, Hulu Pays buy watched time)
  • Closed Caption Required

 

To be honest most films they pitch to Netflix will be rejected. Unless there is some reason (Buzz, Publicity, Famous Cast) for the aggregator to make an extra effort, believe me they will not. They get paid to “pitch” your film to these streaming platforms. Even though like i said before, most submission will be rejected for the same reasons the filmmaker cannot contact Netflix directly(No Following). Also with the things going on with some of the aggregators(which I wont mention any names) I am not sure if an aggregator is the way to go these days. Sure Itunes and Google Play forces filmmakers to go thru a 3rd party to submit and collect revenues. But for now Amazon still allows filmmakers to directly upload their film to its  platform for sale or rent. For most indie directors I would advise this option. Some of the aggregators are going thru some hard times, so I have been hearing allot of horror stories lately. Everything from Bad reporting to missed payments have given this industry a black eye.

“Some of my past clients have went with companies like these.”

  I’ve seen these situations first hand. I myself can verify some of these shady practices taking place. Running paid social media campaigns for one of my clients, I remember looking at the reports thinking to myself “something is just not adding up”. My analytics showed a hell of allot of traffic sent to the platforms, but the numbers where not matching. The film even reflected the boost in traffic on the film’s IMDB ranking. So once the allegations came out on some of these distributors, I def was not surprised. With so many sharks in the water looking to take advantage of the independent filmmakers, you have to be very careful. Honestly the only real way to get your film onto Neflix is to build a buzz or following for your film. At that point you won’t have to submit your film, they will come to find you.