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Episode 83 – Self Distribution with Griffin Hammond

A few weeks ago we talked to Lucas Kitchen about his experience releasing his film through Distribber and were sad to hear he did not make much money at all. After poking around on the web, Timothy found another self-distribution story, this time with much better results. Meet Griffin Hammond, the filmmaker behind the Sriracha documentary which you may have seen on Amazon Prime!

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.


Meet Griffin Hammond

Our guest this week is Filmmaker Griffin Hammond who made a 34 minute documentary about the famous hot sauce “Sriracha.” He wrote an article all about how he self-distributed this movie and made money! Read the article

Filmmaker Griffin Hammond

Sriracha the Movie

See the Sriracha Documentary here:

Self Distribution and What it Looks Like

You’ve got your movie done, now what? You could go to festivals, find a distributor, or you can do it yourself. Griffin decided to sell the movie himself. After spending $12,728 on production, and another $27,807 on merch and distribution his film generated $76,677 in revenue in 18 months.

Griffin’s article in a nutshell:

1. Vimeo offers the best profit margin in this business

Vimeo’s 10% cut of revenue beats iTunes’ 30% fee and Amazon’s 50% and YouTube’s ad-based monetization is no match for VOD sales. Although YouTube earned triple the views of Vimeo in a third of the time (41,105 in six months), the payout has totaled $110 — $0.002 per view.

2. Viewers watching your film for free on Hulu and Amazon can actually turn into real money

198,826 views on Hulu yielded $13,263. It’s only $0.05 a view, but that’s 25x better than YouTube, and it adds up.

He received a payment from Amazon Prime for $5,061.84 on May 2015

3. Blu-rays and DVDs are expensive and you lose over half of your physical media revenue to expenses.

4. Film festivals are a fun, expensive vacation

He paid $1,758 to enter 42 festivals, got into 24 of them (57% acceptance rate), and paid $5,026 to travel to nine of them

5. Profitable sure, but maybe it’s not sustainable

Sriracha has turned a $36,141 profit in 18 months, but considering how much he would have made as a freelancer producing/shooting/editing, Griffin turned down a lot to make this film.

Here’s a breakdown of Griffin’s 18 month revenue

First 18 months of revenue (As of June 2015)
First 18 months of revenue (As of June 2015)

$100,000 Self-Distribution Breakdown

So now we have a better handle on how self-distribution breaks down. But how do the numbers add up for a $100k budget?

We learned that Amazon Prime pays 15¢ per hour watched, Hulu pays 8¢ per view and YouTube is a mere 1¢ for every 10 views. And as far as we can tell, Netflix offers $5,000-$10,000 for smaller indie films. VOD has the best margins, which we’ll just call 99¢ Net for now.

  • Armed with this new info, here are the numbers required to making money back on a $100,000
    • $20,000 = 20,000 Rentals @ .99 Net
    • $25,500 = 10,000 Buys @ 2.50 Net
    • $50,000 = 333,000 hours streamed @ .15 each
    • $5,000 = 1 Netflix Purchase @ $5,000
  • But that’s a ton of views. can we really expect that many views on our films? Maybe not. Timothy’s realistic expectations for an unknown feature sold directly to friends and family sit around $7,050
    • $300 = 300 Rentals @ .99 Net
    • $250 = 100 Buys @ 2.50 Net
    • $1,500 = 10,000 hours streamed @ .15 each
    • $5,000 = 1 Netflix Purchase @ $5,000

We ask Griffin for advice on getting our money back and he points out that we need to create a long tail on our films and window their release. He points out that his documentary made more money in the second year than the first.

No matter how you cut it, success is achieved through making something people want to see and Griffin found an audience by tapping into a popular hot sauce. Narrative filmmakers must do the same thing either by using a name actor, tapping into a subject or winning awards and gaining word of mouth.

Getting in Touch with Griffin Hammond

Check out Griffin’s new podcast “Hey Indie Filmmakers”

And find him on his website or on Twitter @Griffin

Contact Us

Thanks for listening!

We want to hear from you. Leave a comment on this episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show you can also leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Finally, you can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb and @mmihpodcast!

Published inCareerDistributionFeature FilmsFilm FestivalsFilmmakingFinancingMarketingSelf-Distribution