HungryFlix Delivers for Indies

Wages of Sin is a chopsocky romp which features Chicagoland producer-director Nathyn Brendan Masters as Nathan Matthews, a.k.a. “Johnny Trigger” and CiCi Foster as the de rigeur “hooker with a heart of gold.” The trailer on YouTube is lovably schlocky.

It’s the kind of content you can’t find on iTunes, but you can download from HungryFlix, a site that caters to independent filmmaker and their fans. “We are trying to be an online distributor for primarily independent filmmakers but also independent video producers,” said Brian Andrews, HungryFlix’ owner. Filmmakers can set the purchase price, of which they get 60 percent, and users can download video in the new iTunes Store format, which works with video iPods, AppleTVs, PSPs and XBox 360s, but is DRM-free.

A $1.99 promotional price for downloads of Wages, billed as the first indie feature formatted for the Apple TV, brought so much interest it crashed the HungryFlix’ site, according to Podcasting News — proving there’s consumer interest in content beyond Hollywood’s back catalog and network shows.

HungryFlix takes care of the hosting, using PayPal to manage transactions. The hope is that by catering to “the true indy guy, the no-budget guy,” in Andrews’ words, the site will attract an audience looking for those types of film — mainly action and horror for the moment, but as Andrews pointed out, there’s lots of stuff that never gets beyond festivals.

It’s a way for an aspiring Tarantino or Rodriguez to make some money on a project financed with bar mitzvah money, a tuition loan check or liberal use of credit cards, and while none of the movies I browsed through look like they’ll be feted at Cannes any time soon, they certainly have the indie street cred and endearing appeal of enthusiastic, if amateurish, productions.

Andrews admitted that selling digital downloads is “a tough business,” and that there’s plenty of competition already out there. But by understanding the indie film community and catering to the needs of filmmakers, HungryFlix is providing a welcome venue for productions to make money on their projects even if they don’t get a distribution deal.

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