How to Make Money from Your Film!

Digital self-distribution is an option available to independent filmmakers for sharing their finished film with the world when you don’t want to work with a traditional distributor — or when they don’t want to work with you (it might not be the right time yet).

I’ve talked about the many benefits of digital self-distribution in the past. One of the major take-aways is being in control of your your film’s destiny. We live in a digital-social world now, and it’s to our benefit to learn the different avenues available to all independent filmmakers.

Each of the DIY Video on Demand services below will take a cut of your streaming or download revenue, but the math isn’t always simple. PBS recently asked each company direct questions about their business and why an independent filmmaker would want to use their service over all the others.

Amazon Create Space

The roadmap and the opportunity for Amazon Video Direct is rich and huge. They have the ability to become that one distributor who solves the audience and revenue challenges to self-distribution and enables a worldwide platform for all filmmakers. Amazon brings an audience to the table — one that’s ready to consume entertainment content on a variety of platforms including desktop, mobile devices, and OTT devices (Roku). Their offer a low-cost distribution alternative to all filmmakers.

Youtube Partner Program

Youtube is a fantastic platform and option for filmmakers who are currently growing an audience. Casey Neistat is a recent example of some of the amazing advances filmmakers can make when creating a brand. The YouTube Partner Program lets creators monetize content on YouTube in many ways, including advertisements, paid subscriptions, and merchandise. Filmmakers can also use the leverage of an audience to generate an income in a variety of ways by using other third party platforms connected to Youtube (more of that in another video).

Vimeo on Demand

Vimeo is a platform well-known to filmmakers. It’s the place where most artists showcase their portfolios,film reels, short films, and feature productions. Vimeo also allows audiences to purchase films directly from the people who made them and creates an environment of support to creators. In addition, Vimeo is the only platform to date that offers creators 90% of the revenue after transaction fees. Millions of people use Vimeo as a platform for entertainment and it’s worth trying.


IndieReign is an independent film marketplace where filmmakers connect directly with their audience, and film fans discover a world of rewarding cinematic experiences (very similar to Vimeo). The filmmaker cut is 70% not counting Paypal fees.

Fetch App

FetchApp integrates with a variety of popular ecommerce systems to deliver a seamless sales experience. It allows you to sell and digitally deliver downloadable goods. They help automate delivery for customers with no need to install or download anything. This distribution option is for filmmakers who might have a decent budget to self-distribute without having to pay any commision to a platform or company. FetchApp is used by authors, musicians, filmmakers, etc. Some known artists that use the app include Robbie Williams, Ryan Adams, and David Blaine. The key benefit, in my opinion, is being able to distribute by only paying a low monthly fee and taking 100% of the cut.

There are other platforms that can help you self-distribute your film including ReelHouse, PivotShare, Top Spin, etc. The companies or platforms I mentioned are ones I found to have the better reputation and more success stories from filmmakers around the world.

Note: The list mentioned is limited to services with no curation process, which means it does not include Netflix, Vodo, Indieflix, Indiepix and many others that require approvals (I’ll talk about some of those at a later time.) The options I provided will allow you to start distributing your film right away vs. going through a process that could take an extra few weeks or months to start.