Vimeo is debuting its own take of film funding at the Toronto International Film Festival this week: Film makers whose feature-length movies premiere at the festival can get a $10,000 advance if they agree to distribute their films through Vimeo On Demand, the site’s paid streaming offering that launched at SXSW earlier this year.
Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor told me during a recent interview that he sees this as a first test for what could one day become a bigger funding program for independent filmmakers, adding: “Film festivals seem like a logical place to start.”
Trainor admitted that $10,000 aren’t exactly enough to shoot most films. Then again, any movies premiering at a festival are already shot, and the cash can be used to pay for any extra promotion.
Vimeo On Demand offers film makes a 90 percent cut of any sales, and film makers who make use of the $10,000 advance agree to give the site a 30 day digital exclusive, meaning they can simultaneously go through traditional distribution channels, and sell their movie to iTunes or Netflix once the month is up, or even earlier if they manage to recoup those $10,000 before 30 days are over.
Trainor told me that Vimeo on Demand has already attracted some 2000 films across a wide variety of categories. He didn’t reveal any sales numbers, but said that the offering has seen “continued growth.” Some of the features Vimeo wants to add next include the ability for filmmakers to launch pre-sales before a movie is done, which could at least for some replace the need to launch Kickstarter campaigns to seek crowd funding.