This is an excerpt from my book The Indian Indie Film (or Make Your Film for rest of the world). It was written from the experience of making my debut feature film on an iPhone for ₹5 lakhs ($7,000). Now available as an eBook on Amazon.
Now that you see marketing and sales of films differently, and understand that sales happen forever, let us look at one of the options of selling your film today, on Amazon Prime. As of writing this, YouTube, Hotstar, Prime and Netflix are the streaming platforms In India with the user base. Of these, Prime is the most accessible because of Amazon Prime Video Direct.
Note: Our film, Munnariv, is being sent to festivals and is not on Prime. What we share here is from our research and not from experience.
What is Amazon Prime Video Direct
It is a platform through which you can sell your film on Amazon. It runs with the tagline, “Helping studios, distributors, and independent filmmakers reach audiences worldwide”.
There are two options of selling through Prime Direct:
- Included With Prime
First of all, please know that there is no upfront payment. You market your film, you bring customers to the Prime page, they watch, you earn a small amount. Prime acts as only a marketplace. There are thousands of other films there and you need good marketing to stand out.
With Rent/Buy you are not selling your film on Prime. But people can rent or buy it on Amazon. You get 50% of what each customer pays. If you are looking for that, Vimeo On Demand might be a better option as you get 90% of a sale.
With ‘Included With Prime’ option, your film is accessible to anyone on Prime. How you get payed is on the hours watched. I could not find the current rate for India, but have attached in the additional resources details of their pricing structure and rate card.
Dependence of Earnings on Viewership
Be aware that the rates have drastically been cut down over the years we’ve been following Prime Direct. Also your payout is highly dependent on a ranking system that keeps track of your content’s performance every year. As stated by Amazon, Customer Engagement Ranking is calculated based on
- Unique members who view your title
- Time each customer spends engaging with your content
- Notable talent, relevant genres, an IMDb presence and rating, and box office performance
- Compelling and high-quality poster art, accurate and representative copy and metadata, localized subtitles and key art
To read more on Customer Engagement Ranking click here.
Possible Earnings in Selling Your Film on Prime
For one person watching your film for an hour, it can be as low as 71 paise and the highest being around ₹ 8.5.
Note: Following is from our studies again. For comparison and education purposes only. Not to be taken as facts.
Let us assume your film is an hour and half long and every month you make 1000 people watch your film on Prime. Then you might get around ₹ 13,000 that year. If you make 15,000 people watch every month, then you get between 12 to 22 lakhs that year.
How do you get 1000 or 15,000 people to watch? You put money into marketing every month.
Let us assume that you put Facebook & Instagram Ads. You need 1000 people to watch every month. Not everyone you bring to your film’s page on Prime is going to watch it. Let us say 10 % of all those who come will watch your film. That means you have to bring 10,000 people to you page each month.
To bring 10,000 people to your page, you need to reach 2,50,000, assuming a modest click rate of 4% on your Ads. To reach 2,50,000 unique people every month you will have to spend around ₹ 3,000 (only an approximation, roughly calculated by our recent Ads for our workshop).
So, for a film with no stars, but good reviews, to get:
- the minimum earning of ₹ 13,000 a year, i.e a low Customer Engagement Ranking, you might have to spend ₹ 40,000 in marketing
- the maximum earning of ₹ 22,00,000 a year, i.e a high Customer Engagement Ranking, you might have to spend ₹ 6,00,000
Based absolutely on a lot of assumptions and no practical experience whatsoever.
How To Sell Your Film on Prime
Putting you film on Prime is a straight forward process that requires some work. Following is a video with detailed explanation on how to go about it.
Why Munnariv is Not on Prime
One of our concerns is that with the increasing number of content, ranking high every year might not be practically possible, without strong marketing or positive word of mouth. But these are all assumptions that we can only know by doing it.
Also once your film is on Prime, or any other online platform for that matter, your film can no longer be sent to any of the major film festivals. These are some of the reasons why we are sending the film to festivals first.
The right path for your film depends on what you are looking for. We are merely presenting our study in hopes that you can verify them for yourselves and make better decisions.