Indie Cinema: Internet Use to Make and Sell Films

Indie filmmakers are using the Internet to sell their movies. They don’t have to spend much money on prints and theatrical distribution; they sell their movies online directly to their target audience, and pocket a hefty cut of the revenues.

Linda Nelson’s crime drama “Shifted” is available as a video download, a DVD or rental at Nelson co-wrote “Shifted,” a minimal thriller about a homeless man, with her business and life partner Michael Madison, who directed.

Nelson wants to get filmmakers away from established distribution. Nelson Madison Films has launched Indie Co-op, a subsidiary, to help filmmakers self-distribute their films on the Internet.

Filmed under a SAG indie contract with deferred actors’ salaries, “Shifted” cost about $100,000 to make. Unable to raise funding after two years, she and Madison shot “Shifted,” a picture they couldself-finance and control.

Unlike other DVD distribs, Amazon Unbox and CustomFlix offers a 50/50 deal: Half of the revenue goes to the filmmaker. On the Amazon Unbox “Shifted” Web page, the film is available to rent for $2.99 for 30 days, for video download for $8.99, or for DVD sale for $14.95. The “studio” is listed as CustomFlix. is another business-to-business application for buyers and sellers of film rights and a digital marketplace. Via inDplay, filmmakers can create, edit and approve contract offers, and list their film libraries. Nelson hopes that inDplay will soon work with CustomFlix to stream movies for free for distributors, doing away with mailing clunky DVD screeners.