Where is the Market?

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User767
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 26 Jun 2013, 07:31

You want to make a "lower middle class living"? And, you want to pay for health care? In the US? I don't think those are mutually compatible.

I don't know if I count in your definition. I've been freelance for about 30 years. I mostly do advertising on my own. I drop in on TV shows and movies for short periods from time to time. Never made a film of my own.

Mostly cel-based animation. Some stop-motion, some visual effects, some 'supervising', some miscellaneous assorted other things. (and, I've been in Los Angeles the whole time)
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Gochris1
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Gochris1 » 26 Jun 2013, 09:45

Thanks for writing. I know of many animators out there who can make a living doing work for clients. I respect that.
But I am looking for examples of animators like Plympton and Hetzfeldt who mainly do their own original films.

One can make 30K in the US, but of course you have to make an extra 10K to pay for health insurance. Though I understand AARP has an affordable plan...

I would hate tho think that I will have to keep my day job forever just because it offers health benefits.

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Paul Fierlinger
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 26 Jun 2013, 10:37

I've been a freelancer my entire adult life, since 1958, the year I made my first film for money, a TV commercial. The hardest years were the child raising ones because I couldn't take any chances with making my own films so most of my life I've worked like User 767. Only my current film, the one about Slocum, is my very first truly independent film, which means self financed with no producers or future distributors. It is also not accurate that I make a living off the Internet alone. Right now we started a 6 minute commissioned children's film for Weston Woods to help offset the out of pocket expenses with Slocum.

But having said that, I agree with you that it is possible to invent your own job using the Internet as your only venue and I'm now ready to say it's the only way to maintain independence while making a middle class living. The ting to keep in mind though is, that you have to think outside of the conventional boxes. I have doubts that making a 5 minute short is the way to start. I have doubts only because I haven't seen your work. If it's a film you're making for festivals then it sounds like a conventional film already. I wouldn't go that way because that's the way to make money for festival organizers, never for yourself.

To make it over the Internet you have to invent something so unconventional that you would never care to enter it into a festival. Keep in mind that the Internet is a venue made of billions of viewers but your work will always be made for an audience of one. Next, it shouldn't be longer than 6 or 8 minutes because anything longer won't fit the Internet venue. It would be unlikely to make one 6 minute film and make $ 30,000 a year off of it (but not impossible). So in my view the most practical approach is to create an installment series of 10 or 15 chapters at the self publishing book rates already in existence of $ 2.00 a chapter.

This means you have to first create the equivalent of a feature length film, but think of it as a program, nevermore a film. For that you need a light day job, which would never pay for health care. And by the way, to stay in a day job just to have health care is a good strategy in my opinion -- without it you may die sooner than you would wish.

If you can put 3 hours a day into your program after you come from your day job (Kafka worked as a clerk for an insurance company) and 24 hours over weekends, you can be ready for your independent release in less than ten years. If you have no children, then congratulations and you can shave at least 4 years off the ten.
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 26 Jun 2013, 15:12

Bill Plympton does commercials. I think he's still at Acme Filmworks. He does a lot of 'for hire' work, and that makes up a fair percentage of his income. There are a LOT of 'feature' people that do advertising (and make a 'fair percentage' of their income from that). If you can make your $30.000 in a few weeks on an advertisement, doesn't that help to 'buffer' what you really want to do 'artistically'? Otherwise, I tend to agree with Paul's idea of 'product'.
>formerly User 767: "It seems your login has been deleted. Your login being a little strange, maybe you have written a strange post and we thought your were a bot."
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 26 Jun 2013, 15:52

If you can make your $30.000 in a few weeks on an advertisement, doesn't that help to 'buffer' what you really want to do 'artistically'?
Certainly, but it's a tenuous existence because this sort of work doesn't come by easily which means you can't count on it. My favorite kind of commissioned work were series, like Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street or a string of children's films for Learning corporation, or Nick Jr, or a series of educational films for US Healthcare or drug companies, a series of self-promos for Oxygen etc. What all these jobs had in common was that they came in clusters. This experience led me to the thought of applying the same principal to our Internet work. BTW, we not that long ago received a series of commercials targeted exclusively for the Internet, again for a drug company.
Otherwise, I tend to agree with Paul's idea of 'product'.
I assume you meant "program" and not "product".
Another way to think of this is that TV programs are already moving to the Internet so the natural step is to join the trend and self-produce your own "TV" program -- for potential subscribers it's all the same. A program is just a collection of short installments. What's promising about thinking in this direction is that once your program has reached a sizable enough audience to bring you some decent income, you can keep on making new installments without having to first create 2 hrs worth of these; you will be able to release one new addition at a time -- say every 4 or 5 months for two bucks each.
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by artfx » 05 Jul 2013, 11:22

I am really happy to see this thread still alive. I thought it was long gone and haven't checked it in a long time. Paul, you're scaring me with the lines about the child raising years, seeing as I am a month away from starting those.

I have continued to research this topic, which we know is a constantly evolving field, and here are some of my latest thoughts:

Our products last forever. I recently read an article where Stephen Spielberg lamented how E.T. spent a year and four months in the cinema, but the opening weekend alone will make or break a modern movie. DVDs have an extremely short shelf life. Retailers are interested in getting the next hot new thing on the shelves. Internet products, though, are there forever. If someone discovers you ten years later, according to the successful Kindle author Hugh Howie, they can easily, and likely will, check out your entire back catalog. It's all right there. If, on the other hand, you discover you like Paul W.S. Anderson, try finding his older movies on the shelf at Best Buy. Because of this, as internet creators grow their fan base, their income can grow exponentially. When Howie exploded, he exploded big because he already had ten or more titles in his library.

Movies and cinema are near dead. The indie who thinks they will make a feature film, find their way into cinemas and get a big paycheck is deluding themselves. Guys with last names like Spielberg, Lucas and Jackson have trouble getting films made and into cinema in today's market. Lincoln came "this close" to being on TV, according to Spielberg. Indies should drop all notions of feature films and cinema. Actually, they likely should drop notions of television as well. It was not many years ago that a famous network executive spoke at MIPCOM saying that the chances of an indie getting anything on television are slim to none.

Japan is not much better off. It was only ten years ago that I was there, demoing my stuff and I witnessed the rise of Makoto Shinkai. It seemed at the time to be the indie heaven. There will never be another Shinkai unfortunately. In that short space of time, the indie opportunities have plummeted into the gutter. Japan's harrowed industry has become as stifled and bottled up as the west. When studios on the level of Production I.G. have to resort to Kickstarter, that is saying something. In fact, Japan has started a new anime-only crowd sourcing platform because the market is keenly aware that the mainstream has lost its direction. If you thought all anime looked the same before, you don't even want to see it now.

New services are popping up offering new opportunities. Vimeo has stared a pay-on-demand service where the creator can charge pretty much whatever they want per download and keep the lion's share of the revenue. Don Hertzfeld, who has been very protective of his content and managing his online presence, has gone this route. He, of course, already has the fan base in place to make something like this viable. Can the same be said for the indie starting out?

I believe that the Amazon Kindle model is the one to watch. I suppose iBooks on the iPad can be included as pretty much the same model. Comics on these devices are "getting away with" selling a 25 page chapter for $2 - $4 and people are paying it. Of course, Batman and X-Men are riding the top of the list, but the indies are on there, and while we can't get sales numbers we can at least surmise, from the number of reviews a product has, that it is, in fact, selling. Could the same be done with short, chapter-based, animated content?

SHOULD INDIES COMPETE FOR THE BARGAIN BASEMENT?

Many creators starting out have a tendency to want to price their stuff extremely cheap or even free. I see nothing wrong with the creation of free content for the purpose of building an audience, but if you spent three years of 12-16 hour days creating your content, do you really want to do that? Only someone doing cheap Flash cartoons that take a day or two to produce could even consider this route. The rest should consider charging something.

Indies have a tendency to heavily underprice their work. We see a lot of this in the Kindle market now as well, with many entire novels at $0.99. There is plenty of content out there on the internet that is totally free and no one is watching it. Do you think pricing your hard won product extremely cheap is going to make it enticing to people? You would be better off pricing it high so that when you do get the occasional sale, you can maybe buy something to eat. Don't worry about what iTunes is charging for TV shows. Those shows have already made their money through advertisements and merchandizing. An indie product is special. It is special because it is not one of those TV shows. It is not the same ol', same ol', mainstream stuff people can get anywhere. Remember what Paul said about unique and unconventional. Charge accordingly.

This is one area where I think the old Japanese market had a leg up on the rest of the indie world. Makoto Shinkai and Comix Wave were charging $50 - $70 bucks for a single 25 minute film on DVD, when his first project came out, because they knew it was special. They knew it was different, and they knew there would be enough fans who consider it worth it. Actually something like 50,000 fans considered it worth it in the first couple of weeks on release. Such a feat is likely not possible in today's Japanese market, but the lesson should still apply to indie creation and how to charge for it.

Right now I am in complete agreement with Paul on the idea that installment series are the way to go in this new market. As far as the best place to release them, Amazon, iTunes, Android, Vimeo, it is quite possible you want to format them to be released everywhere. There is still a lot of research to do. Eventually, someone is just going to have to take the plunge and do it.
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User767
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 06 Jul 2013, 06:01

Paul Fierlinger wrote:
I assume you meant "program" and not "product".
Not really. If people are buying it, it's a product, isn't it? (even if the product is a program)

Amazon DVD and streaming 'on demand' don't pay out much for indie stuff. The 'author' doesn't get a very good percentage (it's a strange scale for sales calculations, but it ends up being less than a dollar earned for a ten dollar priced film). I think it's the same for iTunes. Price it low, make it up in volume? I don't think so.

A proper PR/advertising campaign should be part of whatever you do though. Treat it as a business venture, and you're closer to being profitable in the end. A business agent, a producer/partner, or some other variety of money-grubbing fiend helps profits a lot in the end. If you're doing this to make money, then you might as well behave like you're in it for the money (even with doing everything else 'your' way). People are conditioned for that. Billions are spent every year teaching people how to be proper consumers. Might as well take advantage of that 'education'. It's to everyone's advantage in the end, anyway.
>formerly User 767: "It seems your login has been deleted. Your login being a little strange, maybe you have written a strange post and we thought your were a bot."
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Paul Fierlinger
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 06 Jul 2013, 09:54

So what sort of experience and knowledge can the businessman provide that I couldn't provide for myself? Is it mostly marketing and understanding something about advertising that I wouldn't? That 1:10 ratio horrifies me? Are you absolutely certain it is a valid figure? Where should I research this information?
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by artfx » 06 Jul 2013, 13:01

I would be curious where you're getting your numbers also, because from everything I read, both Amazon and iTunes allow the author to set their own price and the author gets 70%. (with Amazon the 70% rate is on prices $2.97 and above)
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User767
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 06 Jul 2013, 19:47

Sorry, it's not that bad. On Amazon, anyway. I don't know what it is on iTunes. You do get to set your own price. (prior information based on an overly dramatic producer) 70%? I suppose if you publish and ship the DVD yourself? I only saw a cost, plus 'selling fees' listed.

https://www.createspace.com/Products/DVD/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.createspace.com/Products/VideoDownload/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Amazon Instant Video: you get 50% of the rental or purchase

Amazon DVD (on demand):

Royalty summary
Amount earned on sales =
Your list price minus our share (shown below)
Our Share
Fixed Charge $4.95 / unit
Share for sales on eStore +15% / sale
Share for sales on Amazon.com +45% / sale
>formerly User 767: "It seems your login has been deleted. Your login being a little strange, maybe you have written a strange post and we thought your were a bot."
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User767
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 06 Jul 2013, 20:07

Paul Fierlinger wrote:So what sort of experience and knowledge can the businessman provide that I couldn't provide for myself? Is it mostly marketing and understanding something about advertising that I wouldn't?
I think the 'businessman' is more about having the time and drive to devote to selling your stuff. I don't see any reason it couldn't all be self-done. I guess it depends on how greedy you are. But, a business manager is devoted full time to profit. The animator can be devoted to craft. I'm personalizing this. My agent has a vested interest in me being profitable. I don't even think it comes down to expertise, but more to having someone else 'sell their soul' to make money off of your 'program'. Of all of the people (and businesses) I know, the profitable ones all have someone devoted to selling. (I definitely work more, and make more, because of my agent). So, certainly, if you can pull that off yourself, then you might as well.
>formerly User 767: "It seems your login has been deleted. Your login being a little strange, maybe you have written a strange post and we thought your were a bot."
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 06 Jul 2013, 20:45

I have about a year left before I'll be ready for distribution (about 15 minutes). It will be interesting to negotiate , let's say with Amazon, because I am billing this as an animated graphic novel in 15 eight minute chapters, obviously never done before (I wish it weren't so). The look and format is clearly and obviously on first site a graphic novel and not a film or video -- yet the animation is fully produced in two's at least 80% of the time, the remaining 20% being still illustrations as backdrop to text. No VO, only music and SFX with cartoon style speech bubbles. Self publishing book rates are lower than videos. There is a service offered for installation novels at Amazon, which is sold at $ 2.00 per chapter -- that's the category I would like to place myself into. As far as I can figure, Amazon keeps about 30% but I'm not too clear on this.

It's easy to predict that books and videos are going to crossbreed in the foreseeable future and I am counting on this as one of the attractions; it'll be a novelty and curio. The story has a sizable built-in target (sailing people world wide) based on a 150 year old favorite, "Sailing Alone Around the World". There is hardly a sailboat afloat today without that book aboard. This is all the advance publicity I need: "Slocum's all time favorite 'Sailing Alone' is now available as an animated installment graphic novel"; ads strategically placed in the few popular sailing magazines and blogs. If I would attract just 1% of the owners of the Slocum book in the U.S. alone, I would make over a million dollars before royalty fees. It's not preposterous to expect that more than just 1% of the target would become subscribers and that there will be a sizable interest of potential subscribers beyond just the sailing public.
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 11 Jul 2013, 17:01

I just now stumbled upon this mediocre Canadian 1 hr TV documentary, about Slocum’s life.

If we got as many subscriptions as this got hits (56,307) we would gross 1.8 million dollars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... J8#at=1327" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I am quite sure this documentary got very little marketing, and if any at all, it would have been only a localized campaign, so I think this validates my predictions.
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by User767 » 12 Jul 2013, 02:39

Paul, I certainly hope you profit even more than you would hope for. (maybe there's a merchandising deal you could make too...)
>formerly User 767: "It seems your login has been deleted. Your login being a little strange, maybe you have written a strange post and we thought your were a bot."
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Re: Where is the Market?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 12 Jul 2013, 11:41

More than that, the point I'm trying to make here is to answer the question this thread brought up, which is, where is the market? What I am doing can be done by anyone who can animate and draw well. But in my opinion, a short isn't going to do it, unless it will be the first short of a series of shorts; like a book made of short stories all on a single theme. Actually, the paradigm to success is more in the book publishing field, rather than film or video. This is what the Internet is good for because it's a new venue; a fresh way to tell stories that people will be eager to pay a small fee to spend an evening with.

I think the largest problem to first solve is how to create a situation where an animator would have three or four years of free time to research, write, and animate the book. If I would be in my thirties, married and without children, I'd try to make a deal with my wife that she would be the sole breadwinner for that period so that I could concentrate on the long haul -- not unlike relationships where one of the pair studies medicine or law, or geography, while the other goes to a day job. Then they can reverse the setup. I would even be willing to let her go first, because of course, she would be an animator too.

Hell, I'd probably think of making a series of stories about that relationship; relationship stories, once well done, have become the evergreens of literature, which brings up another important condition in the hunt for the market: read books; lots and lots of books. That is where the secrets of success are all hidden and ready to be uncovered by anyone who is serious about creating their own markets. I recommend you start with any well established anthology of short stories, such as The Best American Shorts or the British literary journal, Granta (especially older editions) or any other equivalent versions of these books, because the lessons are condensed: how to start a story and how to end one.
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