Analysis: Kiwi-founded movie-streaming service in hookup with crowd-funding site

Nov 21, 2013: When NBR last caught up with David White a year ago, he had just launched his music streaming service IndieReign.

Film makers can self-distribute through the site, reaching fans directly and getting a cut of the rental action.

So how's it going 12 months later?

Pretty well.

50,000-plus registered users are buying movies through IndieReign.

And while he's not talking financials, White says he's just inked a partnership with Indiegogo, which bills itself as the world’s largest global crowdfunding site for indie films.

Filmmakers that opt in to the partnership gain leverage for their projects with the guarantee of extra support and coverage during their shot at raising funds, White says.

“We are excited about our partnership with IndieReign," says Danae Ringelmann, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of Indiegogo, “IndieReign are one of the leaders in the movement towards a more sustainable independent film industry. With literally thousands of film projects around the globe raising funds each month on Indiegogo, both our organizations are naturally aligned to helping filmmakers succeed."

Already this year IndieReign has supported over 100 crowdfunding projects from all around the world, helping indie artists achieve their fundraising goals and gain worldwide exposure, White says.

One of the many projects that benefited from the partnership was American/Korean film collaboration, Amiss. Raoul Dyssell, co-director/co-producer of Amiss, says "Without IndieReign, Amiss would never have reached the international audience it did, thereby not only reaching our campaign goal, but surpassing it with extra donations, after the campaign had ended, from global supporters who found out about the film on their website".

Dyssell’s Indiegogo campaign, Believe in Amiss, was featured on IndieReign’s blog, promoted over the IndieReign community, won both IndieReign’s Project of the Week and Project of the Month competitions, and will go on to be distributed on the platform when released. 

“Independent filmmakers look to IndieReign for direction and advice which is why we are very careful when it comes to who we partner with” says White, who recently spoke about digital distribution at AFM (American Film Market).

“We chose Indiegogo because they’re not only the world’s largest global crowdfunding platform, but their values align with our own, and this partnership provides a new channel for independent filmmakers to easily make the transition from financing to distribution.”

Oct 13, 2012: IndieReign CEO David White has just hit the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco, looking to push his company’s online movie distribution service.

The Hamilton-based company, backed by investment from Movac, commercially launched its service last week after several months of testing. It has six staff, spread across NZ and India.

IndieReign offers a software video player that can be embedded into any website. It allows a movie to be bought and downloaded, or rented and streamed. .

Full high definition files are supported, though step-down options are also available.

The movie maker sets the price, IndieReign clips the ticket on each download or stream.

White says video on-demand will be a $US16 billion market worldwide by 2016.

That may well be so, but how do you compete with the big boys already established in the market, like Netflix, Apple iTunes, and Amazon Prime?

As its name suggests, Indie Reign is hitting the independent film maker niche.

White’s pitch is that every year, more than 10,000 films are submitted to the Sundance festival alone (many of them shorts) but only around 1% gain a global distribution deal.

 “You spend years of your life raising money, making the film, then six or 12 months on the festival circuit then … nothing,” the CEO says.

ABOVE: This clip is Kordia sponsored, but gives you a good overview of the Kiwi Landing Pad, and a look at the space.

There appears to be a good little gap in the market for Indie Reign to fill.

As NBR has already seen, even a big player by New Zealand standards – South Pacific Pictures – can’t get a foot in the door with Apple iTunes. The video-on-demand services only talk to the big studios, or big content aggregators.

ABOVE: You can follow other members on Indie Reign (which officially launched a week ago), and earn free downloads if you promote films to your social media contacts.

Of course, an indie film maker still has to draw people to a movie’s website, or wherever it hosts Indie Reign’s embedable player.

To this end, White’s company offers several “gamification” elements. If people promote a movie to their social media contacts, they earn points. Score enough points, and you earn a free download. If you like their taste in movies, you can follow other members.

I was recently up at the Kiwi Landing Pad, and it’s a great environment. The ex-light industrial space (which doubles as Australia’s StartUp House), has been refashioned as a light and spacious open-plan office.

Instead of trying to find his way, alone, in a foreign city, White is surrounded by Kiwi (and Aussie) entrepreneurs who already know the lay of the land. They range from the fresh-off-the-boat to more established names like Vend and Xero (who share Sam Morgan as an investor and director, which is no coincidence - the Landing Pad was the Trade Me founder's brainchild.)

ABOVE: Movies can be shown in full-screen, full high definition, or streamed or downloaded at lower resolution options. Indie Reign's player can be embedded anywhere - complete with preview and buy options (click the play button on the clip below; it's live).

Indie Reign is on the Kiwi Landing Pad’s new Catapult programme, which means White will spend four weeks immersing himself in the US, learning the market.

All his flights and accommodation are paid for. He only has to pick up the tab for food. And with a ready-made office at the Landing Pad, he can just get on with it.

The accommodation – immediately beside the Landing Pad – is nothing flash, by the way. It’s hostel-style accommodation with a shared kitchen.

Some of the immediate neighbourhood is a little “edgy”.

After his iPhone’s digital compass was thrown out, and he was too embarrassed to do the wave-it-in-a-figure-8 thing to reset it, your correspondent took a wrong turn, and within a block was in front of a needle exchange, and various challenging characters on the street corners.

But the SOMA district of the city is also rapidly regenerating. Beyond the Kiwi Landing Pad, LinkedIn, Twitter and Zynga have set up offices. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, there are no better neighbours.

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