Self-Distribution Case Study: "Four Eyed Monsters"

The following information was compiled by cross-referencing  several articles, books, and videos on the success of the "Four Eyed Monsters" release. Watch the film on YouTube

by Susan Buice & Arin Crumley

Synopsis: An artist and filmmaker begin a relationship after meeting on, but only on one condition: they would not be allowed to speak to each other directly. 

Production Budget: (undisclosed)
≈ $100,000 (the amount of debt they incurred)

Marketing/Distro Budget: (undisclosed)
≈ $0

Source of Funds
credit cards (debt)

Marketing Strategy:
• building audience and keeping them engaged with consistent media: Video Podcast + Blog
• Social Networking on Myspace
• Audience dialogue from the very beginning (asking audience how they wanted to see the character arcs and story evolve, informed the editing process of the film)

Source of funds: credit cards

Source of funds: credit cards

Distribution Strategy:
• premiered at Slamdance January 2005
• awards @ 2005 Brooklyn Intl FF, 2005 Newport Beach FF, 2005 SXSW FF
• no theatrical offers
• building audience with 13-episode video podcast
• CTA at the end of podcast episodes: collecting zip codes and e-mails from viewers
• Theatrical Screenings Sep 2006 – “Thursdays in September” screenings every Thursday in September in NYC, LA, SF, Seattle, Boston, Chicago – 1691 people went to see the film in September, averaging 70 people per screening
• Cinema Village releases the film Dec 1, 2006 in NYC
• Cachefly sponsorship – donated $5,000 for promotional supplies for NYC run
• NY Times reviewed the film
• 2007 Spirit Awards
• Sundance + Electric Sheep – first movie to screen in Second Life video game
• winner Undiscovered Gems Showcase – granted a theatrical release – 31 cities Valentines Day 2006 (awarded $50,000 toward theatrical release and $50,000 for TV deal with Sundance Channel)
• started selling DVDs on website
• June 2007: first ever feature film released on YouTube for free (monetized with Ad revenue)
• 1,000,000 views on YouTube in 4 months = $50,000 ad revenue
• Spout sponsorship alongside YouTube release = $46,000 
[they found a 5% turnover for engagement in sponsorship activity]
• YouTube views boosted DVD sales on website
• $30,000 DVD gross in 4-month Youtube release
• online attention landed a $100,000 Broadcast & DVD retail release
• very open and transparent, supporting releasing the film for FREE, DRM-free, open-sourcing, encouraging people to not pay for it and use and share as they wish

"Four Eyed Monsters" editing room

"Four Eyed Monsters" editing room

• 1.4mil YouTube views
• 15,000 Myspace connections
• 60,000+ video podcast views per episode

Gross Profit:
• $50,000 YouTube ad revenue
• $46,000 Spout sponsorship
• $5,000 Cachefly sponsorship (for promo materials for NYC screening)
• $30,000 DVD gross (4 months of YouTube release)
• $100,000 Broadcast & DVD Release
• $50,000 Undiscovered Gems showcase award (for theatrical)
• $50,000 Undiscovered Gems showcase award (for Sundance TV deal)
• ??? Box Office Gross
• ≈$331,000+ TOTAL GROSS
• NET ≈ $231,000+

What other self-distribution case studies have you heard about? Leave a comment below!
Wanna learn more? Subscribe.

Other Case Studies...
Indie Game The Movie
Four Eyed Monsters

Bones Brigade; An Autobiography
What the Bleep Do We Know
Transcendent Man
Bomb It
Red State
Road Hard
Helvetica and Objectified
Camp Takota
Zen Noir
Live at the Beacon Theater
Northern Lights
Favor vs. Ten 'Til Noon
Sound it Out
Ed Burns
The Way We Get By