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Home » Podcast Episodes » Intro to VOD Distribution with Linda Nelson | 047

Intro to VOD Distribution with Linda Nelson | 047

by Tommy G. Kendrick

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I hope you have or will listen to the interview with Linda Nelson. This podcast episode is not intended to be nor does it pretend to be an all-inclusive discussion about Video On Demand. But if you’re an indie filmmaker struggling to get a handle on some of the issues involved with a VOD release, I think this will get you started nicely and give you some resources to consider. Be sure to check the ’20 VOD DISTRIBUTION TIPS’ listed further down the page.

Find Nelson Madison Films / Indie Rights:
Nelson Madison Films Web Site
Indie Rights on Facebook
Nelson Madison Films on Facebook
Nelson Madison Films / Indie Rights on YouTube

indie rights on facebook

The following is taken from a wiki article about Linda Nelson and Michael Madison’s company INDIE RIGHTS:

Indie Rights, a subsidiary of Nelson Madison Films, is a technology partner for filmmakers. Based on the experience of its founders, Linda Nelson and Michael Madison, the need for a new type of distribution for independent films is evident. Thousands of great independent films are made each year and never find an audience. They play at film festivals all over the world and are never discovered by the sales agents and distributors that frequent only the top-tier festivals, such as Sundance and Cannes. These festivals used to be filled with fresh original voices from new talent, but now act as advertising vehicles for “classic divisions” of major studios or showcases for already established actors, directors and producers. Film markets, like AFM, are too costly and complex for most independent filmmakers.

Indie Rights offers distribution and technology services to filmmakers who have feature-length films that have not yet found an audience. We also arrange licensing of film content to qualified buyers for broadcast and cable TV. Finding an audience for your independent films has never been easier. New digital distribution platforms exist that will allow you to benefit directly from your work. Indie Rights was formed to help you do this. Much of the work can be done by you, but if you want or need help distributing your film, we can provide that help.

Indie Rights specializes in digital placement of movies and has excellent studio level partnerships and relationships with all the major platforms so that your film can be available to audiences through such popular platforms as MGo, Google Play, Roku, iTunes, Hulu, Playstation, YouTube Movie Rentals, Snagfilms, and Vudu as well as the most popular DTC apps for Facebook. Our services are non-exclusive, we charge no up-front fees and we work with all our filmmakers to educate them about the use of the most innovative marketing and social media tools available for marketing independent film.

My Conversation with Linda Nelson

Working with Indie Rights: The filmmaker gets 80% of all revenue and they don’t charge any expenses. Indie Rights handles encoding which is included in their 20% split.

Since I’m a podcaster myself I suppose it only makes sense that I listen to a LOT of podcasts.

Linda Nelson DistributorStartup Film School, a podcast by Stacey Parkes of Film Specific has become one of my favorites.

In a recent episode of Startup Film School, Parkes’ guest was Linda Nelson of Nelson Madison Films and Indie Rights.

Their conversation really captivated me. And I’m not a filmmaker or a producer. But, as an actor I know that it’s part of my job to be informed about the direction the industry is heading. And in my role as producer and host of Actors Talk I am in contact with a number of low-budget indie filmmakers.

One of the most common situations I have observed and discussed with indie filmmakers concerns what happens when the film is completed. Often, the filmmaker, especially if they are new to the game, is stuck trying to figure out a distribution strategy on the fly. It’s strictly DIY and learn as they go.

Clearly that’s a tough way to go and so often results in failure to either secure distribution at all or failure to secure a distribution deal that is fair to the filmmaker.

The detailed information Stacey Parkes and Linda Nelson were discussing was largely new to me. Again, I’m not a producer or filmmaker. But I knew instantly that this was information that I wanted to present to you filmmakers in the Actors Talk audience.

I think there is good information here not just for the beginning filmmaker but for any filmmaker who finds the changes in distribution strategies difficult to master while simultaneously working to make a movie.

I hope you have or will listen to the interview with Linda Nelson. This podcast episode is not intended to be nor does it pretend to be an all-inclusive resource about Video On Demand. But if you’re looking to get a handle on some of the issues involved with a VOD release, I think this will get you started nicely. I have tried to distill much of our conversation into the ’20 Tips’ format below.

But if you are a screenwriter, director, producer, filmmaker you really should listen to the audio. I think you can get a sense of who Linda Nelson is through this medium, judge her credibility to some extent and get a feeling for her manner of doing business.

I’m not saying the podcast is a ‘truth detector’ but wouldn’t you rather have heard a distributor speak publicly about their company and their philosophies and listen to their advice BEFORE potentially entering into a contractual relationship? I certainly would.

I am grateful to Linda Nelson for being my guest on this episode of Actors Talk. We had a bit of a battle the with Skype during our interview but she was a real trooper and left me with a tremendous amount of information to pass along to you.

So here it is filmmaker, a potential distribution outlet for your film. You’ll make your own judgements and decisions about your distribution strategy, of course, but I hope you’ll let me know if the content in this episode is helpful to you in that regard.

If you have a microphone on your computer you can use the SPEAKPIPE button on the side of this page and leave me a voice mail. Or you can leave a message via my Google Voice number: 512-660-7160. Or you can shoot me an email to:

FINALLY: If you find this episode beneficial, and if you have an iTunes account would you do me the favor of clicking on this link which will take you to iTunes. Please leave me a Star review AND a few words in a written review? That means a lot! Thank you!



The distribution business is all about contracts


There aren’t a lot of good film distribution resources readily available. Two good ones are FILM SPECIFIC and Jerome Courshon’s Film Distribution seminars and DVDs

secrets of film distributionstacey parkes


The goal of all filmmakers is to eliminate as many middle men as they can


You do have to go either through a company like INDIE RIGHTS or another aggregator in order to get your film on the PREMIUM sites. An individual filmmaker cannot get their films on Google Play or iTunes or HULU or Amazon instant Video in HD. So you have to go through at least one company.


You can go through Create Space and sell your physical DVD in the Amazon store. We recommend all filmmakers we work with do this. Every filmmaker should do that. That’s only in standard definition DVD quality. Individual filmmakers cannot put HD films up on Instant or Prime.


One of the best ways to assure that you’ll get distribution and GOOD distribution is to insure that you have an audience. And the best way to do that is to start your social media marketing right while you’re in production so that by the time you finish producing your film you already have a core audience that’s very interested in your film.


You’ve got to participate in social media marketing [to build an audience for your film] primarily Facebook. Facebook is the very place you can do that right now…in five years it might be something else…right now it’s Facebook


Question: When should the filmmaker begin planning for VOD release? Answer: Before they make the movie


The top 20 festivals you can forget about if you’ve got a super low budget film…but you must go to some festivals because that’s how you build a pedigree for your film.


You want to have a Facebook page from the time you have a script. Hopefully by the time you get to festivals you can have a couple of thousand fans. And by the time you finish with festivals you have several thousand fans and you are ready when a distribution company or an aggregator looks at you. They can see you’ve made an effort to connect with your audience.


You should always set aside some budget for your marketing, even if it’s tiny. Because you can do advertising on Facebook very cheaply and very effectively.


It’s always valuable to have a recognizable name in the film.


Don’t rush to get your movie out to direct to audience sites. It’s really important that people have a release strategy and that they release their films first on the premium platforms before the do any of the DIY or direct to audience sites like Vimeo or Distrify…otherwise you won’t go out on those [premium] sites as a new release and you’ll just get buried with all the catalogs.


Netflix: We don’t recommend our filmmakers go on Netflix for several years. Unless you have a big name talent in it they will offer you a flat fee and then they give it away to 23 million people and nobody’s going to pay for it. Stay away from ad supported sites and subscription sites until after you exploit your paid transactional situations.

PAID TRANSACTIONAL DEFINED: That means where a consumer actually pays by credit card for a download (DTO – Download to Own) or stream (DTR – Download to Rent) of your movie like on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, Voodoo, XBox, Playstation, etc.


All movies need to have closed captioning which you can do yourself with software like Movie Captionerbut it’s a tedious job. Otherwise you have to go to a post production house and pay them to do it for you.


It’s really important to have your trailer and your film in ProRes Uncompressed. Do not compress it to H.264 or it will be unusable.


Your Posters are really, really important. You have to think about what’s on your poster [because people are going to be viewing thumbnail size images ] The title has to be readable in postage stamp size. You could have the best movie in the world but if you have a crappy poster nobody’s going to stop [browsing] on it.


You’ve got to have LAYERED Photoshop files for your KEY ART


iTunes and Hulu are curated platforms and distributors pitch films to them for acceptance on those platforms


Do the paperwork that you need to establish clear chain of title. Don’t shy away from going SAG-AFTRA because you think there’s too much paperwork. Using the SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement you can use a combination of SAG-AFTRA and non-SAG-AFTRA talent.

Actors Bonus Content

Character_PosterIndie Rights is distributing the film Char*act*er which features interviews with Harry Dean Stanton, Dabney Coleman, Sydney Pollack, Charles Grodin, Mark Rydell and Peter Falk. I encourage you to check this film out. It is available for free on Hulu.

Del Weston
Del Weston

Loved the program, great informaiton.  As a filmmaker and the founder of the AOF Festival and Del Weston On Film,  I loved hearing what she had to say.

Great stuff, great show!

Del Weston 

Paula ONeal
Paula ONeal

Tommy! This was a great information! Thanks Linda for taking the time out to share your expertise! Looking forward to your future podcasts Tommy!


Thank you so much for the opportunity to share about digital distribution and the importance of social media with your guests.  What you do to help educate actors and filmmakers is critical to their success.


@Paula ONeal  My pleasure.  The more information filmmakers can get about how to plan their distribution, the better for everyone.  These days, it's easy to blow your release strategy with some simple missteps.


  1. […] find more insights from Linda in this excellent blog post at the Actors Talk podcast with Tom Kendrick. Scroll down and check out her 20 VOD Distribution […]

  2. […] […]

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