The recent news that IFC was cutting back on its feature distribution and sticking to its First Take day-and-date VOD program is generating a healthy amount of debate on indieWIRE and the blogs (namely Brian Newman's provocative post).
Whether day-and-date is the future of ultra-indie distribution and is financially beneficial to filmmakers is still largely an open question, I believe, but last fall, I investigated the day-and-date programs of HDNet and IFC First Take for this Filmmaker Magazine article and found a wide range of opinions from filmmakers who took part.
Caveh Zahedi, for example, who had a number of outspoken troubles with the release of "I Am a Sex Addict," saw his film gross only $115,000 theatrically on a $100,000 marketing budget.
But Caveh told me he’d do the same thing again. He even sold IFC the DVD and TV rights to his entire back catalogue for the same deal points: No money up front and a 50/50 split after the company recoups its costs.
“My sense is that the movie was seen by more people than it ever would have been otherwise,” Zahedi said. While he hadn't yet received numbers from Comcast on how many people watched his movies on demand, he believed it was enough to offset theatrical costs. If Caveh's out there reading this, maybe he's gotten the numbers by now and can share them with us.
I have to wonder if the program ends up not being so beneficial to filmmakers, why would they keep signing up for it?