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9 Tips for Promoting Your Project

10/04/2013
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Once you have your project live on Chill, you might be wondering, “what next?” To help you get started with marketing your project, we put together some of the best marketing tips that we’ve seen driving real sales for independent filmmakers and artists on Chill.

1) Reach Out to Press
If you are not working with a professional PR team, don’t be afraid to seek out relevant blogs and online media outlets to request coverage. Find the right person at the outlet based on what they have previously written about.

A short pitch is more effective than a copy/pasted press release, so don’t stress over it. If you can’t find their direct contact information, you can also tweet them (but be polite and don’t spam them!).

2) Access your Inner Circle
Reach out individually to your closest circle of friends, family and supporters. Who are the people you can always count on to support you, and who would be open to sharing your project with their friends or followers? The first email list you build will likely start with this group.

3) Tap into your Influencers
Influencers are the people who have a large fan base or social following. Who are the biggest “influencers” that are either a part of the film or have a vested interest in it? Maybe it’s someone in your inner circle who might be interested in supporting your project. Reach out to them and make it easy for them to help promote it.

4) Get in the Inbox 
Do you have an existing email list for this project or any of your previous creative endeavors? Is there an alumni message board you are a part of or a newsletter that you regularly contribute to? Email is one of the most direct ways to reach your future customers.

When sending emails to your list make sure to keep the copy you write short and snappy (nobody wants to read your press release) and ideally include a great image from your project.

Pro Tip: In your email, include links to share your project on Twitter with tools like clicktotweet.com. For sharing to Facebook add your Chill url to the end of this “https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=”.

For example if your url was https://chill.com/camp, you would add it to the url above like this: https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=https://chill.com/camp

When your fans click on this new link it will automatically give the option to share that page on Facebook. If you need to make your links smaller you can go to http://bitly.com/ to shorten them.

5) Polish your Social Skills
We all know social media is important, but it is easy to fall into the trap of treating your feed as an ad platform. To be effective in social, you need to be authentic, entertaining and gracious. Not every post needs to be a plug to buy your movie— you can also share a cool related photo or article that your fans might enjoy.

We like to follow the rule that for every three posts, only one should be directly promotional (asking your followers to buy your movie or like your page etc). The more interesting, funny, useful, or emotionally engaging your content is, the more people will see it.

Pro Tip: Focus on the outlets where you have your biggest aggregation of fans or where new fans are likely to hang out. You do not need to be on every social network. If you have the bandwidth and the support to do it, then great, but you will set yourself up for greater success if you choose 2-3 networks you can be consistently active on.

Maybe you start out on more of them and then narrow it down to the ones that get the most interaction. Some good networks to experiment with are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram and Pinterest.

6) Annotate on YouTube
Putting your trailer on YouTube is a vital part to your film’s promotional strategy. It also puts you into Google Search and lets more people discover or easily find your movie.

Pro Tip: You can now annotate directly to your Chill project page within any video you put up on YouTube. See this blog for annotating instructions.

7) Update your Fans
Chill has an “updates” feature where you can continue to update your fans about exciting things that are happening with your project. Do you have a new review or screening coming up? Have you posted something new to YouTube? Want to thank everyone for their support? Post an update! This will also trigger an automatic email to people who have purchased and opted-in to hear from you.

8) Embed your Trailer
Did you know that you can actually embed your Chill trailer on your web site or in press coverage? That means the video will click right through to Chill and have a call to action to buy your project on it. Find the embed code by clicking play on your trailer and then clicking on the square icon in the lower right hand corner. You will be given size options to grab the code from.

9) Promote Yourself
We have a nifty tool called “web site promo” that lets you create an ad for your Chill sale page on your own web site. Sign into your account, click on purchases, then on dashboard. Click on the marketing tools tab at the top.

You will need to upload a 1200 x 600 image and put in a description, and we will pull color options from your image to make it look great. After you’ve created it, you will want to paste the code anywhere in the header of your web site. For an example, visit pleasesubscribefilm.com.

Have other Pro Tips that are working for you?
We’d love to hear from you. Share any of your own marketing and promotional insights with us by emailing creators@chill.com

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YouTubeAnnotationsBanner

Linking to Chill using YouTube annotations

08/29/2013
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As of August, 2013, Chill is now a certified merch vendor on YouTube. In other words, now anyone can link directly to any URL on Chill!

So, what’s the big deal? YouTube is the largest and most trafficked video sharing site in the world. Most filmmakers (and studios) upload their trailers and other exclusive clips to promote their movie. However, they’re often left putting important links in the description section, where they have a tendency to get lost. Now you can actually have your Chill link be hyperlinked in the video (aka annotated), increasing your chance of turning viewers into real customers.

In order to do this, you must “Enable External Annotations” in your YouTube account. The official YouTube help guide is here.

EnableYouTubeAnnotations

What can I do to take advantage of this service?

  1. Put links directly into your trailer and exclusive clips to send people back to your Chill page to buy your movie.
  2. Put an 8-15 minute preview of your movie on YouTube and prominently display an annotation where people can buy the movie on Chill.
  3. If you’ve submitted your trailer to a YouTube channel that promotes new movies, share with them your link and explain that you would like an external annotation if possible.
  4. If you’re working with people (cast, crew, friends) that have lots of YouTube subscribers, have them annotate directly to your Chill page.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 10.16.40 AM

By putting your project on YouTube, it enters your movie title and keywords into Google Search helping to further promote it. The annotation link will simply and efficiently direct interested consumers to your film where they can buy it. Happy annotating!

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Audiosocket

Finding music for your film just got easier

08/16/2013
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You know that feeling. You’re searching for that perfect piece of music for a pivotal scene in your film. In a perfect world, you’d use your favorite Coldplay song — but you don’t have the time or money to hire a composer to mirror it, and you can’t afford to license it.

Today, that all changes. We’ve just forged a partnership with Audiosocket, an online music licensing company, to solve this exact problem. Audiosocket makes it incredibly simple to find appropriate, easily accessible and affordable music for your film, trailer or behind the scenes videos. Easily search by mood, scene type, tempo, and more. It’s so easy, in fact, that we just used Audiosocket to choose the perfect music for one of our latest comedy specials, Greg Proops’ “Live at Musso & Frank’s,” now on Chill.

So next time you need that perfect tune, check out the Chill Store on Audiosocket.

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Insider Access

Insider Access: An Exclusive Look

08/12/2013
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At Chill, we’ve learned that the process of building, engaging, and maintaining an audience around a project is time consuming, complicated, and challenging to understand who your audience is in the first place. It’s enough to make most creative types yearn for a simpler time when they could just sign over their creative IP to big studios and producers and be done with it… ah, the good old days.

For all creators that live in the 21st Century, we’d like to introduce you to Insider Access (IA) from Chill: an exclusive gated community for your fans. Using an intuitive content management system, creators can publish photos, video, audio and written posts. In return, fans see a beautiful array of content without the clutter of ads and other non-relevant projects. Check out CAMP TAKOTA as a live example of IA.

Think of Insider Access as a way to activate and empower your community, all while learning more about them than ever before.

Over the past few months of setting up IA, we’ve gotten a lot of questions, so I will answer the most common ones in a Q&A format. Here we go!

Q: “So, how is this different from having a Facebook Page, Website, Twitter and/or Tumblr for my project?”

A: Fundamentally, Insider Access acts as the central “hub” for all contact with your audience. If you already have a community that exists on another social network, you can use IA as the source of the content that you feed out to other networks, reducing your need to create content for each platform. From within IA, you can automate delivery of posts to Facebook and Twitter via authentication.

Moreover, with Insider Access you get 100% access to the fans that are interested in hearing more about your project. We provide you with extensive data on how they come to your site, who they are, and how they interact with your content. And when you’re ready to release your project, you can rest assured that you’re reaching 100% of your target audience.

Q: “But why would I want to use IA instead of just post to Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr?”

A: The reason you would use IA instead of “just posting” to those other services is because they don’t give you the complete tool set to see how your content resonates with your audience, you don’t get to collect information on your fans to help you promote your project better, and finally, your content is often mixed in with other projects that distract people from truly engaging with your project. We are not advising to stop using the other services, but rather source your content from IA so you’re able to monitor how it performs. Knowledge is power!

Q: “What kind of content do I post on IA vs. a publicly available site?”

A: Great question. The content you post within IA is “exclusive”, as in people can’t get it anywhere else. This means you aren’t copying and pasting interviews from other sources or posting a video clip that is readily available outside of your site. In reviewing current trends of fan interaction for movie projects, we’re seeing that posting 1st person content which has a direct conversation with your audience is more impactful than high gloss, professionally produced sizzle reels and simply sharing clips from your movie. Fans want to go along for the ride seeing behind the scenes, interviews, bloopers, learning about the process of making your movie. We think of it as reverse engineering the marketing/promotion of a film: get people hooked well before it is time to actually “sell” your project. For an example, check out the project CAMP TAKOTA on IA.

When it’s time to promote your film externally, using those exclusive clips and high polish trailers will still come in handy as that is what traditional promotion outlets will want and and need for reaching their audiences.

Q: “Will someone at Chill help me get this done?”

A: Regretfully, we cannot help every project from start to finish. We are working on producing guidelines and manuals for how to best use IA for a creative project. Most creators have a dedicated person or weekly time slots that they set aside to handle the creation of content for their IA. When you think about it, IA is going to replace a lot of the work you’d have to do across Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. IA is the hub that feeds all of those communities with 70-100% of the content they’d need to stay fresh.

Q: “I’ve never heard of Chill and all the users I’m interested in reaching are on Facebook.”

A: Here are some real facts about Facebook: 1) 96% of fans never return to a page they “Liked”. 2) Posts from Fb Pages typically get 0.2% – 3% interaction. 3) EdgeRank and the Facebook algorithm make it so you only reach about 17% of your audience unless you pay Facebook to drive traffic to your post.

The good news is that 95% of interactions with Facebook content happen in someone’s newsfeed. And that’s where Insider Access comes in. We provide viewers of your content with many options to “like”, “tweet” and embed posts anywhere. This way your content will always “live” on your IA, but will be right at home in whatever social network you post it into. We have integrated Twitter and Facebook cards (i.e. the video plays in-line), YouTube annotations (i.e. you can link directly to any chill.com URL), and any video is embeddable in any website or blog.

For all content that you post outside of IA, viewers will be prompted to join your community and only shown a limited portion of the content, enticing them to come back to your site.

Q: “So what about my project website? Can I host this IA site on my domain?”

A: No, you cannot host IA on your domain. It will be located at https://chill.com/[YourProject]. You can always redirect your URL to your IA project page.

A movie website was recently found to be the least effective method for converting a passing visitor into ticket buyer (or merch). And the facts are that a project website is expensive, confusing, time consuming to build and maintain, and often used as a graveyard for clips and images. Plus, your website collects no user interaction data about your prospective fans. IA takes care of all that and provides you with a comprehensive dashboard to truly understand and communicate with your fans.

Q: “I’ve got MailChimp/ConstantContact to collect email addresses on my website. Why do I need your service when I already collect data on my users?”

A: That’s great! So many people don’t collect email addresses from their fans. My question for you now is do you know which of those collected users interact most with your content? Do you know how often they come back to your site? Do you know their age, gender and location? Unless you’re using a very expensive custom built website, I’m guessing your answer is no for all of the aforementioned questions.

IA was built from the ground up to help solve the perennial problem of not knowing your audience’s profile. Our service provides you with solid marketing data so you can effectively promote and sell your project when the time comes. We’re providing you with multi-million dollar tools that were until now only available to large marketing firms.

Q: “This all sounds great! Where can I sign up?”

A: We’re glad that you’re interested and want to hear more about your project. Right now we are offering IA to select creators as we are building out the service to be available to the general public in the near future. Please email us at creators@chill.com for more information. Official pricing will be announced in late 2013.

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3 Reasons Email Lists are Essential for Filmmakers

07/02/2013
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Marketing any independent film, series or comedy special is hard work. Independent means you most likely don’t have a huge budget, or maybe you don’t have a big celebrity brand to rely on. Developing an intimate relationship with your audience is your most important marketing tool, and email is one of the most direct ways of utilizing that relationship.

1) You will reach the largest percentage of your fans.
Email is one of the most explicit forms of “permission marketing,” a term popularized by Seth Godin, meaning your audience has actually volunteered to be marketed to by you. With social media, you are only reaching a fraction of your fans. Don’t get me wrong, social media is very important for any grassroots campaign, but you ultimately want to make sure your social fans are converted to your email list. Let’s break down why you are not going to reach your full marketing potential on any social network alone (although they are still important!).

Facebook: We all tend to look at our facebook fan count as the be all end all number when really also need to focus on the little number next to it, that reflects people “talking about this” fan page. This number averages at 2% of the page’s total likes and any given post will typically reach less than 20% of your fans (unless you want to pay more to reach them of course.)

Twitter: Tweeting is a great way to engage in dialogue with your fans, but but all your followers will see your tweets at the given moment you are tweeting. You are also facing potentially low click-through rates (CTR’s).

Instagram: You may see super high engagement on here, but you don’t have the ability to put a link with a photo, so your call to action (CTA) is going to be inherently weak.

YouTube: If you have a big subscriber base, then YouTube is one of your most effective marketing tools, especially for digital content, but you still want to get those emails, because you can’t send a mass message to all your subscribers.

2) Your email list is your most dedicated audience.
Depending how you capture your emails, your list is most likely to be your lowest hanging fruit—the people who have expressed the highest amount of interest in hearing from you directly in their inbox. These are your biggest fans, the ones who are going to tell their friends and help you get your message out there.

3) You are building your future customer base.
You are not only marketing your current film or project, but you are building a list that you can retarget for all of your future work. On Chill, we allow your fans to opt-in to your email list when they pre-order or purchase from you, so that you can market your next project to them.

Tips on how to build your email list
1) Make sure there is a prominent email capture on your web site. Hello Bar is a great tool for this.
2) With an old fashioned clip board at film festivals, networking events and live shows you are a part of. It seems more tedious than an iPad but it’s actually faster and less of a nuisance.
3) Provide interesting, valuable content. This will incentivize people to stay on your list and share it with their friends. Some examples include: exclusive clips, behind the scenes images, diaries or director notes, interviews your audience would want to read, giveaways or promotional discounts to relevant goods or services.
4) Provide links to share your content in the email (FB, Twitter, forward to a friend).
5) Encourage people to sign up through your social networks with the incentives listed above in the examples in item #3.

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Vigilante Diaries

A New Model for Episodic Entertainment

06/11/2013
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[Originally posted by the Brian Norgard on BrianNorgard.com. Brian is the CEO of Chill.]

Today, our first original series goes live on Chill. Entitled “Vigilante Diaries,” the new series stars the bombastic Jason Mewes (“Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Jay and Silent Bob”) alongside a knockout cast. It’s been in development for two months, and it’s finally available right now. This is an exciting milestone at Chill, since we’ve only been distributing and marketing films and comedy specials up to now. (See below for a sneak peek of the first episode.)

But there’s more—we’re going to be doing things very differently for this series (more below).

How did we arrive here? Jason, Christian (the director) and Paul (writer/actor) came to us with a great concept, yet didn’t want to shoot another traditional TV or Web series pilot. They wanted to do something different that brought the audience closer to the collaborative experience. After many long chats together pacing Sunset Blvd., we were certain that Jason’s hardcore fan base needed to be a integral part of the creative process. Jason’s always maintained a very honest and open relationship with his fans. What if we could extend that earned love into this new project and throw an exponent against it? It has my longstanding belief that the most interesting, touching and powerful content will be created, distributed and remixed on the Web. Just look at what’s going on right now the Veronica, Zach, PhillyD and beyond. It’s happening. And, were only in the embryonic period.

The old entertainment platforms simply don’t offer a true two-way engagement channel — in fact they are absent of this notion. And that’s a significant disadvantage over the medium/long-term. The Web has all the properties that can aid in the formulation of world-class entertainment: real-time feedback, rich engagement, niche community, immediacy, personalization and on. The great Shane Smith (founder of VICE) further influenced my thinking here with this extemporaneous rant last year, “We just have to do it better. Online is a revolution. The Internet is a revolution and we should be revolutionary when we think about the content we put on it rather than derivative and mimic the shit on TV and make it worse. Let’s say fuck it because the Internet isn’t TV. It’s different. It’s better.”

So, here’s a few details how we can all make it better.

First, we are being totally public about how much gross revenue the first episode of “Vigilante Diaries” generates. The money counter will increment in real-time. (I know. I know.) What if we bomb? What if we make $5M? So be it. I think Jason’s fans will appreciate our transparency and, more importantly, see that we’re all in this together. Because we are.

Second, Jason and the entire cast and crew have agreed to make at least two more episodes — provided they reach $50,000 in gross sales in less than 30 days. We call this episodic funding. The idea is simple in theory: audiences will rally around creators —and will support ongoing production with true, old-fashioned patronage. Our episodic funding model represents a new direction for digital series. We’re working outside of the ad-supported world, which lets the creators take risks without answering to brands, networks or agencies. In its purest form, this a model for series that cannot be cancelled as long as viewers are willing to support them.

Third, everyone involved with this project is incredibly open to real-time feedback. We are literally going to be asking for help in making each new episode, and it’s clear to all of us that our greatest asset is our audience. We can’t wait to make this series with them. We’ll soon be rolling out more tools to make this process easier.

Let’s be clear: this is not crowdfunding (but does share some similar psychological properties). If you support “Vigilante Diaries,” you’re buying the first two episodes and will be able to view them on demand (it’s not a promise for a future product) via the Chill platform. “Vigilante Diaries” will be available immediately. And to help it be even more successful, we’re launching a new feature called Patronage, which lets you support the creators even more if you are so inclined. The catch? With greater monetary support comes the ability to gift DRM-free copies of the episode to friends. For example, you can choose to support Jason and the crew at the $18.99 level which allows you to gift 3 copies to friends.

We’re fascinated about this approach to social distribution but frankly don’t know it if will work. Can you imagine a film or series going viral in this way? I can. Could that be you?

Pricing Grid

If we fail to reach these goals, it will be on full display for all of you to chuckle at. But that’s okay. We’re open to risk. Countless creators have come through our doors and are interested in this new model because they too see the power of what can happen when an audience gets behind something special.

If you’re excited about Chill for your series, please email me at brian@chill.com.

Here we go.

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MpegStreamclip_featureartpost

Transcoding Video to MP4

06/06/2013
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In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to transcode (or convert your video from one format to another) in order to upload it in the highest quality possible to Chill. The program I’ll be using is MPEG Streamclip. It is an open-source video conversion program that is available for Mac and Windows. There are many other programs out there, but this one is freely available to all creators and does an amazing job. It’s in every digital filmmaker’s toolkit. If you don’t already have the program, download it here.

Before we start, you must export your film in its highest quality possible. We call this the “mezzanine file”, or video master (post house often supply a HD tape and a digital file these days). Most people will export Apple ProRes 422/422 HQ/444. If you’re editing in a different program which makes MPEG-2 files or another format, don’t worry, this program can take them all!

The only thing that you need to make sure of is that your audio configuration is STEREO at 48kHz. This is typically how a video is edited and exported, unless you’ve specified otherwise. As it would take too long to explain every program, I’m going to have to leave that in your hands to figure out. Ask your editor when in doubt.

TRANSCODING YOUR VIDEO TO MPEG-4:

On the Chill creator’s platform, we kindly request the MPEG-4 (.MP4) format using the H.264 codec. I know it sounds scary if you’re not familiar, but stick with me through this tutorial. We also have the following ideal specifications:

Formats & Encoding

  • 1080p resolution (The “p” is for progressive. No interlaced video please!)
  • H.264 codec
  • MP4 format
  • Max bitrate of 8.5Mbps (8500 Kbps)
  • AAC audio encoding

** We’ll maintain whatever aspect ratio and framerate you use up to 29.97fps.

If you follow these steps, your film will hit all of these marks. Let’s begin!

1) Open your film in MPEG Streamclip by either going “File > Open Files” or drag-and-drop the file into the center of the program. Hit the play button and spot check your film to make sure the audio sync is good and that you exported the final cut of your film.

2) From the file menu select “File > Export to MPEG-4″.

3) A settings screen will pop-up. Use the following settings exactly as shown below in this image.

Export Settings

 

multipass-bframe-settings4) If you want to improve the quality of your transcoded video, select “Multi-pass” in the upper right. This will run your movie TWICE through the system and compare it to the first export to  ensure quality is optimized. This will DOUBLE your export time. Depending on your processing power, it can take several hours (sometimes more than 10 hours) to export a 2 hour movie.

B-Frames stands for “Bi-Directional Frames”. Using B-Frames yields better quality for the same data rate, or lower data rate for the same quality. The system will decide what is best.

5) The only missing piece is the “data rate” for your video. Your goal is to get your video file just under 5GB as there is a web browser limitation to the file size that you can upload. In addition, at present we can only accept a maximum [combined] data rate of 8500 kbps (video + audio).

The words “combined data rate” is important to note because if you set the data rate to 8500 kbps on a short film and have your audio set to 192 kbps, your combined data rate would be 8692 kbps, exceeding the 8500 kbps limit. Therefore, you’d really need to select 8300 kbps as your data rate (8300 kbps +192 kbps for audio = 8492 kbps, 8 kbps shy of the 8500 kbps maximum limit).

Regarding file size, MPEG Streamclip allows you to estimate your file size based on data rate. I loaded in a test video file that is about two hours long. This image shows that if I change the data rate, an estimated file size is rendered to the right.

Variable_bit-rates

I use the word “estimate” because you won’t know the real file size until the video has been processed. As this program using a variable data rate while processing, films that have a lot of action will consistently need a higher data rates to ensure that the picture quality doesn’t get “blocky” or pixelated, whereas a documentary with people sitting very still will need lower data rates. Therefore, if you see an estimate of 4.6GB, it may exceed this and hit 5.2GB. Your goal is to try to maximize your video quality, so choosing your data rate is in your hands. Multiple exports may be required to get it just right. (Even though we no longer shoot on film, the “printing” process still takes a lot of work!)

6) Hit the “Make MP4″ button in the lower right. Select your destination where you want to save the file. Now go do something else, because you’re computer has a lot of processing to do.

You “can” continue to use your computer, but there is always the chance that you could interrupt and possibly damage the video being exported. If you can, set your computer to work with all other programs closed. Go out to dinner, sleep, watch a movie, finally get your car washed, read a book… you get the idea.

And that’s it! When the file completes, confirm that the file size is less than 5GB and that it plays back correctly. Spot check it for audio sync and other possible errors that may have occured. It is strongly advised to do a linear QC which means watching your movie in real-time to make sure that you’re happy with the way it looks and sounds. After all, this is your work that you’re selling to your adoring fans. If you can, watch it on a 1080p TV screen to get the full experience.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Feel free to post your findings or corrections in the comments below. Happy transcoding!

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chill_skyline

Chill With Us

06/04/2013
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We’ve been insanely busy developing what you see on Chill.com. Our vision is to make a platform for filmmakers, comedians and all artistic souls to easily and inexpensively ($0 up-front costs) sell projects directly to their fans. Take a look around and check out some of the projects. You’ll notice that there are “bundles” on all projects where a creator (we refer to filmmakers as “creators”) includes things like posters, t-shirts, and even a Skype 1-on-1 film school class with the director (see: Birdemic 2 final bundle)!

As much as we love our site, we recognize creators want to distribute their films on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, and Netflix, to name a few. That’s why [in most cases] we have opened direct relationships with these marketplaces to sell your film. That’s right. Direct. That means there is no middleman to take an additional piece of that delicious revenue pie.

I can see through your webcam that you’re scratching your head saying, “But aren’t there already companies out there that do exactly this?” Yes and no. There are other companies out there that do some of what we offer, but none of them do it all. There are also other companies that are taking a different approach to this same concept.

For example: Some companies are building custom websites for each film, whereas we build dynamic (i.e. sites that change depending on computer screens, tablets and mobile phones) landing pages on Chill.com that you can alter over time without any code know-how, keeping them fresh throughout the lifecycle of your project. In addition, we provide embeddable tools to put on personal film websites to drive traffic to sell a film.

With all of that said, we want to welcome you, your friends and followers, as well as the entire independent creator community to our blog. Our Entertainment Team of folks in film acquisitions, distribution, marketing, design and strategy will keep this blog humming with fresh and insightful entries about independent filmmaking and Chill specific announcements. From time to time, there will also be tutorials and FAQ videos for people that use the site as creators.

We’re looking forward to sharing this journey with you and hope to make filmmaking history in the process!

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