Independent film distribution company IndieReign began life as Reel Clever, a basket of online tools designed to help film-makers connect and market their wares within the industry. But after talking to customers, founder and chief executive David White realised the real pain in the industry was distribution.
Of the 50,000 independent films made a year (and the five to 10 times as many short films), just 1 per cent land a distribution deal with one of Hollywood's big distributors, leaving the rest to ponder "what now?" Enter IndieReign, an online distribution platform that taps festival films and delivers them to your living room.
White and his team, and Phil McCaw of angel investment company Movac, have invested $300,000 of their own money developing the company's technology, building initial networks and testing the concept. The platform went live just three months ago and White has already signed up San Francisco's film festival, one of the oldest and largest in the world, as a partner. Three other, smaller, US film festivals have also signed up.
San Francisco will use IndieReign's technology to power the festival, says White. "Traditionally festivals make money through admission fees; our tools will allow them to not just sell out theatres, but sell global packages or bundles of films people can watch from anywhere."
Though IndieReign has been designed for individual film-makers to sell their wares themselves, festivals are the Holy Grail. If the company can sign up enough festivals it will secure a limitless supply of films and masses of marketing. IndieReign embarked on its first formal funding round to secure $750,000 to propel it in front of others as quickly as it can.
But White has already secured three-quarters of the funding he was seeking after, very unexpectedly, signing up three Silicon Valley investors while he was tying down the San Francisco festival deal. He met the investors through both McCaw's connections and the Government-backed Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.
"It's hard in New Zealand," he says. "In your mind you are always battling yourself - is this a good idea? Is that? But then you go overseas and you finally realise you can be proud of what you've done because you get that validation from people who don't just want to invest, they want to be part of the journey ... It just means so much."