View Full Version : The market for indie animation DVD sales?

12 December 2004, 09:41 AM
I am so filled of joy over these new forums. You can only get so much cgtalk...

I am about to produce my own films (animations) and I am researching the more boring part of film production. The business side. The market for DVD sales.

I am so curious to the amount of (DVD) sales all these independent short animations produce?

I know Voices Of A Distant Star sold in 20 000 copies and was considered above average for an anime short film like that.

I asked Timothy Albee about the sales of DVDīs of Kaze The Ghost Warrior, but he did not reply directly to my questions.

I also know Andy Murdocks Lots of Robots Volume 1 sold a thousand copies for $24.95, and it seems Murdock is pressing more DVDīs of volume 1, besides starting to sell Volume 2. His productions might be a bit special maybe, containing tutorials for his chosen 3d software etc, but still i feel that itīs good measure of the market.

What other sources of income can there be for the indie animator / film maker?
Awards on festivals? TV broadcasts?

Please fill in your opinions and experiences, and thoughts in general over the market, and let this thread become useful references for all of us going independent!

12 December 2004, 01:07 PM
I know Timothy Albee's Ghost Warrior had to have at least 1000 pre-orders, because they weren't going to press the DVDs until that happened.

You could contact Kurv Studios - - they produced it and they are offering to distribute indie animation DVDs.


12 December 2004, 02:37 PM
Paul, yeah I know, Timothy Albee also replied that they "have a hard time keeping up with all the sales" but refused to give an exact number of sales when I asked him.

With Timothy Albees book and the prediction micro studios got a market, I would have hoped he could provide one with some details of his experiences, but of course, thatīs up to him.

So I am still really curious if there really IS a market for your short films / animations.

What is your predictions? I would really like to hear every ones opinions!

12 December 2004, 03:41 PM
What other sources of income can there be for the indie animator / film maker? Awards on festivals? TV broadcasts? Both. And syndication to broadband ISPs through distributors like Atomfilms. And sites like Atomfilms itself, too. But as I have written in another thread, you have to actively pursue these opportunities, which at times can become as tiresome as the actual filmmaking.

I went to a talk by Bill Plymptom, one of the few independent (feature!) animators, who make a living from their art (I think). I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I told his three secrets of a successful film (in terms of marketability) ;):

1. Short (length)
2. Cheap (production)
3. Funny (content)

The three principles of independent short-film-making, so to speak. He said short shorts had a better chance of getting accepted into festivals, funny films are always popular with the audience and without a cheap production you won't really earn much in the end.

As ways to make money from the films he mentioned several possibilities, with merchandise and giving talks being two that haven't been mentioned yet.


12 December 2004, 05:55 PM
Tough in other words huh?

I kinda realize that too, but the micro studio concept is just so fascinating!

I am reading up on Bill Plymptom, he seems very inspirational, thanks a lot for pointing me towards his great acomplishments!

12 December 2004, 07:50 PM
There are also the short productions made by Tarrence Walker. Tarrence is a huge supporter of the micro-studio concept. (

My thought is: what the hell? If you make a film (short, medium, or long) it will either appeal to people or it won't. If it doesn't go over well then figure out why and try again. If it does gain popularity try again, too. You will have total creative control and don't have to listen to ANYONE tell you that you can't do that. On the down side you have to do *everything* yourself. I think concentrating on your strong areas results in a better production than one which calls a lot of attention to the weak areas.

I think there will also be a strong future for small collaborations. "Virtual studios" so to speak. And it would not surprise me if several of them didn't start here on CGTalk.

12 December 2004, 10:06 PM
I bought the Terrance Walker DVD Concept to Completion when I happend across it on the shelves in Borders Book Store.

I was very enlightened, entertained and encouraged. I found his storyboard hybrid to be very practical.

But how on Earth did he actually get it franchised?? He did an awesome job breaking down the creative process but I would like to learn the business end as well.

12 December 2004, 08:41 PM
Yup, the business side of independent animation production is absolutely fascinating. At least in those instances the animator / small team can actually make some kind of living on their sales.

Suppose itīs the dream of being able to do what you really want to, AND get paid for it as well.
The underdog taking on the establishment....

12 December 2004, 07:32 PM
In my experience and observations over the past 10 years as animator, the micro-studio works (well) when single unattached individuals with very little or no debt and a spartan lifestyle very focused on a single goal venture to relate their vision into practical reality. Married people, especially those with kids (like me) have an almost impossible challenge of successfully completing a film in a micro-studio setup like Timothy Albee's. Young people still living with their parents are most ideally positioned. So instead of running off trying to get out of your parent's house as early as possible, consider that living under their roof could well be the springboard to your film making success. Married but no kids? If your spouse supports your vision and is willing to sacrifice on the life style for a season (read: year or two or five), clear your debts, build up your savings, live as cheap as you possibly can, and put your money and spare time into your production. As for me, I'm taking the longer term approach, developing my ideas, writing my screenplays and honing my skills with the tools of my choice until the youngest of my four children is a teenager and I'm more free to go into actual production. The other route I'm also actively pursuing is being successful at business (something I'll also need once my film is completed) and building up funding from a source other than film-making to buy me the free time and resources to pour into my passion.

It doesn't matter how talented or passionate you are, if your cirmustances hinder you, physically or emotionally or both, you'll struggle to even get to the point where you can say : "Finally, I'm in production on my own film!"

Realizing those things which stand in your way, you can work on getting yourself positioned for completing your film and following through with marketing and business. No matter how inspiring the few micro-studio successes are, how many that we don't even know of have just given up? I have given up - several times. Getting wiser, getting more focused. Applying my effort when and how I can with what I have. Progress is slow. Game plan is in decades. I sometimes see myself as a graying old man at the premier of my first feature, too old to give birth to the countless other films still waiting in silent darkness inside of me.

On the other hand there are people who are unencumbered, but they lack drive and discipline to daily perform the steps required to eventually make a film.

As for the market, my dealings with the acquisitions executives of international distribution firms has led me to understand that if you have the product, and you're willing to take your product for them to see and know about it, you'll sell it. This of course applies to the kind of content (and quality) which is in demand and this is something each film maker needs to determine for him/herself.

Today's readily available digital editing and DVD technology along with the Internet provides a marketing opportunity for the film maker to go direct to the viewer. If you have a great product, viewers will catch on and buy - if you did a good job of letting them know about your film. Success is up to the film maker on many different levels and it's not an easy or fast road to walk and you are required to wear many hats along the way . . .

12 December 2004, 02:34 AM
I second Paul_Newman's post above. wow.. is this THE Paul Newman?? :scream: Love your salad dressings. Haha.

Anyway, VitalInjection... there was another post in the other filmmaking forum that addresses some of your questions.

Look for my post at the bottom of that page... I addressed some of your questions regarding film festivals, tv broadcast rights, etc...


12 December 2004, 07:34 PM
I second Paul_Newman's post above. wow.. is this THE Paul Newman?? :scream: Love your salad dressings. Haha.
Hey Sam, my wife would most definitely say I am THE Paul Newman. :) The reason why my avatar is a monochrome pencil sketch is so people can't see I don't have cobalt blue eyes. Perhaps one day I'll also have a noteable piece of film work behind my name and the new generation who don't know The Color of Money will know me - haha - the age advantage.

01 January 2005, 03:30 PM
I'm no expert, but couldn't you sell shorts to smaller networks or shows?

Like licensing your work to, let's say G4tv or Sesame Street and still retain the rights to it for DVD distribution.

Is this possible?

02 February 2005, 12:18 AM
I'm no expert, but couldn't you sell shorts to smaller networks or shows?

Like licensing your work to, let's say G4tv or Sesame Street and still retain the rights to it for DVD distribution.

Is this possible?

The way it works is DVD rights and TV rights can be separate. They can both be part of a contract agreement as well. For example, for my film "Eternal Gaze," it's distributed by for exclusive television rights, but for DVD, it's handled by another distributor of my choice... and that's not exclusive either. So almost every permutation is possible, if you demand it up front and put it into the contract. Hope that helps. :thumbsup:

Jeff Lew
02 February 2005, 05:37 AM
CustomFlix ( is a place worth considering. It is well known in the microcinema crowd, you know, the home-made movie crowd. On their website, they say they offer 2 types of fulfillment, on-demand and warehousing. With the on-demand, they print your DVD as the order comes in, so you have no inventory to worry about. It costs more than the warehousing option. The warehousing option, you have to print a run or 500-1000 DVD's and they warehouse them for $25/month. Then they send out orders to customers and send you a profit check each month. Plus they do all the customer support.

It sounds really cool for the indie filmmaker. They have options to list your DVD in amazon and and the lucky ones get picked up by Netflix.

It's something to look into. I haven't used them yet, but I really want to try them out on my next project.


04 April 2005, 09:38 PM
Also, there is company in Slovakia(Europe), which provide publishing and distributing with good prices and services, see

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