Getting Paid: Sites that Help Filmmakers and Video Producers Make Money


Compiled by Scott Kirsner (Editor, CinemaTech)

Last Updated: September 21, 2007


New revenue opportunities are emerging with the recent boom in video viewing on the Web. On this chart, I've tried to list the Web sites that are most likely to help filmmakers and independent video producers make money from their work. (This isn't a comprehensive list.) I've ranked the sites subjectively, based on how much traffic and buzz they've been attracting, and also how likely it seems that a video producer would actually manage to earn a significant return by posting a video there. (Media companies with large libraries have a wider range of options for monetizing their content, including Apple's iTunes Music Store, Movielink, and Vongo.)


The majority of these sites are geared to short-form content, but a few, like CreateSpace, Jaman, and GreenCine, make it possible for producers of hour-long or feature-length projects to generate revenue. Most of these sites don't demand exclusive rights to a video, and I've tried to highlight the few that do, like and TurnHere.


Below the main chart are two supplemental charts: one lists Web sites that haven't yet launched payment systems, but could have a big impact once they do, and another lists DVD-burning and merchandising services, which help producers sell good old-fashioned DVDs of their work. (I haven't tried to list all the sites here that run contests where winners can earn money for their submissions.)


This project is part of a recently-published book, The Future of Web Video: New Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers. Both the book and this chart are based on more than 100 interviews with executives and media-makers I conducted between 2005 and February 2007. I'd welcome your feedback via e-mail, at kirsner @


(Notes: I use the term "producer" in these charts to mean filmmaker/director/media-maker. Also, most of these sites prohibit adult, violent, or hateful content; GreenCine, CustomFlix, and IndieFlix are the three companies willing to carry edgier material. I'd prefer if you didn't re-post this document elsewhere in its entirety, though I heartily encourage links.)


Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL

Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal


1. Atom Entertainment

San Francisco, CA

Short animated and live action movies (generally under five minutes).

Very selective about content; videos must be picked for inclusion by site editors, and are generally licensed exclusively to Atom for a specified period of time. Producers earn royalties based on the popularity of their content (and sometimes an advance payment, too), plus a share of any additional distribution revenues generated through deals with partners such as Verizon, for mobile video. Since launching, AtomFilms has paid more than $3,000,000 to producers for content licensing and development deals.


The AtomFilms Studio program gives producers an upfront payment for the development of original content exclusively for AtomFilms.

Content with provocative titles, like "Roof Sex" and "New Boobs," attracts lots of attention on Atom, even though the actual shorts turn out to be tame. (The parties engaging in roof sex turn out to be two pieces of amorous furniture.) Perhaps Atom's best-known content licensing deal was with JibJab Media, for the musical political satires "This Land" and "Good to Be in D.C.," which together were viewed more than 80 million times in 2004. Site is now owned by MTV Networks/Viacom.

2. Revver

Los Angeles, CA


Live action shorts and "slice-of-life" videos. 100-megabyte file size limit.

Revver is similar to YouTube, but with a short ad that plays at the end of a video. As of July 2007, it was the 16th most popular video site on the Web. The company splits advertising revenue 50/50 with the video's producer. Some ads pay the producer based on how many times a viewer clicks on the ad, others pay based on how many times the video is viewed. (For click-based ads, the rate is about 75 cents to $1.00 per click, and a Revver exec said recently that the company hopes its impression-based ads will generate $20 CPMs, or $20 per thousand video views.)

When affiliate sites – a blog, for instance – point viewers to a video, they receive 20 percent of the advertising revenue off the top.

Revver's best-known content creators are Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, whose short video "The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments" earned them about $30,000 and was viewed more than eight million times on Revver. But Grobe and Voltz encountered trouble keeping non-revenue-generating versions of the video off of other sites – like YouTube. In September 2007, Revver announced that it had paid out $1 million to producers.

3. TurnHere

Emeryville, CA


Profiles of local neighborhoods, product demos, and company profiles; most are three minutes or less.

To get "certified," producers must first submit a two-minute audition film. Producers are paid anywhere from $200 to $1000 for a finished short film about a place, business, or product. (Films then become TurnHere's property.)  TurnHere also asks producers to submit their source tapes, along with keywords related to the piece, and addresses of any merchants or attractions included in it.

Company has deals with InterContinental Hotels, Simon & Schuster, and Discovery to crank out short films. TurnHere plans to produce 25,000 films per year.

4. Metacafe

Israel/San Francisco, CA


Entertaining, funny videos (cute pet clips are especially encouraged). According to site: "Over six minutes is probably too long...but we'd love for you to prove us wrong."

In the Producer Rewards program, once an uploaded video has been seen 20,000 times, the producer starts getting paid. 20,000 views earns $100; after that, each additional 1,000 views adds $5. A video that is seen two million times would earn $10,000. As of September 2007, top four producers had earned more than $20,000 each.

Claims 16 million viewers per month, making it one of the most heavily-trafficked sites on this list. Money-making content includes Joe Eigo's "Matrix for Real," an acrobatics demonstration; hacks that double gas mileage or turn flashlights into laser pointers; and Magic Roy's sleight-of-hand tricks Interesting videos rise to the top thanks in part to the efforts of Metacafe's volunteer corps of video-evaluators.

5. CreateSpace (formerly CustomFlix)

Scotts Valley, CA


Any content that adheres to content guidelines. Download-to-own videos must be at least 20 minutes long; rental videos must be at least 70 minutes.

CreateSpace offers a way to get videos sold through's Unbox download service; CreateSpace is a division of Amazon. Producer suggests a price for video rental and download-to-own version, but Amazon has the final say. Producers keep 50 percent of the price. Videos can take up to 30 days to show up on Unbox, but content offered there is eligible for listing on the Internet Movie Database (also conveniently owned by Amazon.) This is the best current option for indie filmmakers interested in selling full-length least until iTunes opens up its gates to more non-studio content.

Videos will share virtual "shelf space" on Unbox with studio productions like Talladega Nights and The Matrix. Among CreateSpace's top-selling videos and movies: "Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga," "You: On a Diet Workout," and "10 MPH," a documentary in which two friends quit their jobs and ride Segway scooters across the country.

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL

Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal


6. Brightcove

Cambridge, MA


Any content, any length.

Producers can set a per-download price (minimum: 99 cents), or allow Brightcove to insert ads. For the former, Brightcove splits revenues 70-30, with the creator getting the larger share; for the latter, the revenue split is 50-50. But affiliate sites that point users to an ad-supported video can earn 20 percent of the ad revenue off the top; for pay-per-view videos, the producer can set her own commission rate for affiliates.

Site is more geared to producers with libraries of content or a continuing series, rather than someone with one or two videos. You'll be in good company: Brightcove supports shows from National Geographic, Newsweek, and WE, and music videos from Sony BMG.

But the Brightcove site itself isn't a major video destination, so it won't generate traffic for you; instead, the company expects producers and content owners to promote their videos on their own sites. And it's unclear how much advertising Brightcove is selling to place in its videos; that may be up to you, too.


San Francisco, CA


Current looks for 3 to 7 minute journalism or entertainment clips, and pays at least $500 for clips that air on Current's cable/satellite channel, available in 38 million US homes. Viewer-created advertising can earn substantially more.

As of February 2007, Current has changed its policies about paying for content, and exclusivity. First, a producer uploads a clip to the Current Web site. If the company selects a clip to air on its cable channel, it negotiates payment with the creator. Also, every Thursday, the site's most popular new clip (as voted by users) is awarded $1000.


Most of the company's old set-fee structure has been discarded, though Current still pays $250 for station promos and $1000 for selected viewer-created ads, or V-CAMs, that air on Current. V-CAMs can earn additional money if the advertiser decides to show them in other venues.


Once the site purchases a clip (they call it a "pod"), Current has exclusive rights to it. This replaces an old policy, in which Current essentially got an exclusive 30-day "first look" option on all content uploaded to the site.

Content is consistently slick and professional, with a distinct lefty political bent. (Al Gore is one of the channel's owners.)

8. GreenCine Video-on-Demand

San Francisco, CA

2002 (VOD launched in 2003) filmmaker_submission.jsp   



Indie features and documentaries (full-length and shorts, but the site recommends that shorts be 25 minutes or longer)

Producers send a preview copy of their content on DVD or VHS. GreenCine takes 10-15 days to review the content, and if it chooses to carry it, sends the producer a content license agreement. (This agreement isn't exclusive; content can appear elsewhere.)

GreenCine pays the producer a percentage of gross revenues from every VOD rental or sale, and payments are sent once a month as long as the  producer earns at least $100. (Otherwise, producers are paid quarterly.) Company won't reveal the percentage, but one filmmaker whose movies are available on GreenCine, Caveh Zahedi, reports that the split is 50-50, and says his movies are being purchased in digital form about 5-10 times a month. GreenCine currently doesn't charge producers to encode their content for digital distribution.

Among the titles available: 24 Hours on Craigslist, Betty Page Uncovered, I Am A Sex Addict. 12,000 on-demand titles available for rental; GreenCine launched its download-to-own service in fall 2006 with about 50 titles. Company receives about twenty preview copies of films daily.


Austin, TX

Instructional and how-to videos.

Producers earn between $100 and $1000 for each how-to video; videos must focus on specific topics and be assigned first. Each video consists of several segments of one to three minutes each, featuring an "expert" on a given subject.


ExpertVillage purchases exclusive rights to the content. A spokesman says that some videographers have already made $10,000 to $20,000 by submitting multiple videos. Site's total budget, announced in 2006, is $2 million for a total of 75,000 videos. Since the program began in August 2006, about $350,000 has been paid out.

Average video pays $300. Videos cover topics like doing card tricks, applying eye make-up, cutting the perfect lime wedge, sailing, and pilates.

10. Jaman

San Mateo, CA


World cinema: mostly full-length features and hour-plus content.

Most downloads are priced at $4.99; seven-day rentals are $1.99, though lately Jaman has been offering free rentals of selected titles to build up its user base. Producers sign a 7-to-9 year non-exclusive contract with Jaman, giving the company worldwide Internet rights. Producers get 30 percent of the gross revenues, paid quarterly.

Elegant, well-designed, easy-to-use technology - though it requires that users download a special player, available for both Macs and PCs. Site has rights to over 1500 features and docs (though only about 400 were online as of May 2007), many of which have played at festivals. Though producer's share of gross is smaller than most sites on this list, Jaman has gotten scads of publicity in 2007, and recently did a deal with the Tribeca Film Festival to make six movies in competition available for free rental. CinemaTech has a video interview with Jaman CEO Gaurav Dhillon, and additional details about the service.

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL

Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal


11. EZTakes

Easthampton, MA


Full-length features, docs, anime, instructional videos.

Producer sets the price for videos; EZTakes pockets a "delivery fee," typically between 30 to 35 percent. The standard EZTakes distribution agreement is non-exclusive. Unlike the other services on this list, EZTakes aims to make it easy to transfer downloaded content onto a DVD for more convenient living room viewing. EZTakes also recently announced software that will transfer movies onto an iPod or other portable media player.

Site offers movies from legendary B-studio Troma Entertainment, including The Toxic Avenger, Bollywood fare, and the IMAX documentary Alaska: Spirit of the Wild.


Los Angeles, CA


Short videos under three minutes, short "produced" films over three minutes with storylines, short Flash animations.

Content must be selected by editors and published on the homepage. Short videos (stunts, animals, dancing, pranks) earn $400. Short "produced" films earn $2000. Flash animations and games earn $2000.

Some videos submitted to Break have been aired on Showtime, as part of a promotion called "Chaos in Suburbia." Most videos seem geared to high school and college guys, with scantily-clad women, sports low-lights, and explosions among the most popular stuff.


New York, NY


Any content. Recommends limiting file size to 100 megabytes.

Through an advertising pilot program, site allows producers to "opt in," allowing ads – 15 second post-roll ads or "single slate" still frames – to be shown at the end of their videos. Advertisers pay on a cost-per-click or cost-per-action basis (IE, signing up for a mailing list or actually purchasing a product.) splits advertising revenue 50-50 with producers, and pays via PayPal within two weeks of the end of the quarter, if the producer is owed at least $10.

Popular video uploading site for bloggers and social activists. Site also sells "high-end" sponsorships on certain top shows, which can involve the host or on-screen personality endorsing a product.

14. B-Side Entertainment

Austin, TX


Short films and features. Any film that has been accepted by at least one festival is eligible for distribution through B-Side.

B-Side sells both digital downloads without DRM and DVDs manufactured on-demand. (They can also sell pre-manufactured DVDs.) Revenue-sharing for DVDs and digital downloads are the same: a split down the middle, after the costs are subtracted. Costs are fixed at $3.95 for DVDs and 40 cents a gigabyte for downloads. Deals are non-exclusive, and can be terminated within 60 days.

Digital downloads are sold in two sizes: a smaller file size is intended for handheld devices like the iPod, and customers pay $2.99 for a feature; the larger file size can be burned onto a DVD or viewed on a TV set, and costs $7.99. Features include Four Eyed Monsters and Before the Music Dies, a documentary about the music industry.

15. Cruxy

Brooklyn, NY


Any content, any length, in a wide variety of file formats.

Cruxy takes a small fee from each transaction: ten cents, plus 3 percent of the retail price. Plus, the site passes along PayPal fees, which are five cents and 5 percent of the retail price. Selling a video for $2 would bring in $1.69 for the producer. Site pays producers via PayPal.

Eclectic mix of content, including short films like The Skeleton in the Closet and robot dancing lessons. Interesting way to allow other sites to promote your video content using widgets.

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL

Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal



San Francisco, CA


Any "professionally-produced" content.

Producers can create their own channel, and upload content in HD or DVD format, without it being down-converted to lower quality. For each download, producer earns a dime. Producers must e-mail the company to establish a producer account first, which is free.

Viewing more than a short trailer entails downloading a piece of Dovetail viewer software (available for Mac or PC). Content selection includes short films that have been seen on the festival circuit, full-length docs like American Goth, and the ubiquitous "Rocketboom."

17. Lulu.TV

Morrisville, NC


Any content, up to 200 megabytes.

Producers upload videos, which generate revenue through Google's AdSense program, which places text ads on the page around the video. Lulu takes 80 percent of the ad revenue, and splits the rest among content producers, based on how much traffic they attract. One percent of the site's video views gives you one percent of the cash pool.


Lulu says it paid out "nearly $50,000" in the last six months of 2006. See additional info below, under DVD-Burning Services.

Poorly-designed, and no critical mass of content yet.

18. Grapeflix

Foster City, CA


Any content in any format. Site accepts DVDs, WMV files, QuickTime movies, etc.

Producers can offer original videos as a paid download and retain 80 to 85 percent of the revenue. But site charges a monthly hosting fee once files exceed a gigabyte (up to 50 gigabytes costs $1.49 per month), and when videos are purchased, there is also a one cent DRM fee, plus a transmission fee (39 cents per gigabyte.) For a 100-minute movie with a sale price of $4.99, a producer would keep $4.00. Site recently changed its payment policy, and will now transfer money into verified PayPal accounts or bank accounts.

Content is sparse, but Grapeflix offers the feature-length comedy Ocean Front Property, which played at several festivals in 2005, for online streaming ($0.29), rental ($5), or purchase ($10). "The Tribe," a short that played at Sundance in 2006, is also on the site: online streaming is $0.99 and purchase is $4.99.

19. Vuze

Palo Alto, CA


Any content, standard-def or high-def.

Only site on this list to support high-def content. Offers a download-to-own and download-to-rent option. Producer sets price. Revenue share is "never lower than 50/50," according to site representative, and can increase for producer "based on merit and popularity." Advertising program is also in the works.

Uses Azurerus' peer-to-peer content distribution platform. Content includes movie trailers, Showtime hits like "The L Word," Babar, and "Bikini Destinations." Indie movies priced at $2.99 to own, $1.99 to rent. TV shows priced at $1.99 to own. Distributes some content from IndieFlix.

20. Si-Mi

Melbourne, Australia


Categories include "animation," "vblogs," "short film," and "music video." 700 megabyte file limit.

Paid downloads only. Producer can set price, above a certain minimum (usually about 5 cents.) Producers receive 90 percent of "net proceeds" via PayPal.

Content includes short films like "Dead Shift" (50 cents) and "Reverse Evolution" (30 cents) and what seems to be cell phone concert footage shot from the audience (a dime). Biggest-earning producer, as of January, had made $10.39 over the course of about a month.

21. HungryFlix

Caldwell, NJ

Launched in 2006, then shut down; relaunched January 2007

Features, shorts, animation, how-to video, sports, music videos. 500 megabyte file limit. Content must be in MPEG4 format.

Site packages content for portable media players, like the iPod and PlayStation Portable.

Features like Ghoul School are priced at .99 or $1.99, claymation and animated shorts at .50 and .99. Docs include Allen Iverson: State of Grace, My Life My Story.

(A few more sites to consider: Wow TV, ToonBreak, Caachi, VuMe, Panjea, Have Money Will Vlog, and the SpyMac Network. Brandfame is a new service that will let you offer advertisers the ability to place products within your videos.)


> Other Sites Launching Soon?


These sites are ranked based on how likely I think they are to make a splash once they do launch (or once they introduce their service that allows any producer to earn money.) As with the list above, this ranking is completely subjective.


Company / URL



The big kahuna when it comes to viewers: about 35 percent of all video viewing online happens at YouTube, as of July 2007. YouTube announced in May 2007 that it would share advertising revenues with some of its content suppliers, hand-selected by the company. If you've already established a big audience on the site, though, you can fill out an info request form and hope that YouTube replies. No official word on the terms of the deal, but the buzz I heard about it was that the split is 50/50. A bit more info from YouTube's blog.

Apple's iTunes Store

Some independent filmmakers have reported that Apple, which runs the iTunes Store, seems to be warming up to the idea of selling indie content alongside movies from Disney and Paramount, and TV shows from the major networks. (Indie producers can upload free video "podcasts" to iTunes, but can't charge for them.) iTunes started offering some short films selected by the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007, and also sells some films represented by Shorts Intl. In February 2007, the snowboarding movie "That" appeared on iTunes, priced at $1.99 per download. (The movie is about 30 minutes long, and the iTunes price is comparable to what iTunes charges for a TV show.)


Much-hyped service from the founders of Skype and Kazaa. Viacom will distribute content through Joost, but there's no info on the site yet about whether indie producers are welcome, or what the terms will be.

Veoh Networks

Site touts the ability for producers to create their own branded channels (or collections of content.) Video is high-quality, even when viewed at full-screen, but viewers must download a Veoh client first. No limit to size/length of video.


Site still in beta, as of September 2007. Will share ad revenue, 50/50. From the site: "At the beginning we are backing you up by guaranteeing a minimum revenue of 5 USD for each 1000 unique views of a video. This minimum revenue is currently offered until the end of 2007."



> DVD Burning and DVD Merchandising Services


Producers with long-form videos (or a collection of clips that they want to sell together) may want to make their work available as a DVD. There are four options for making DVDs available "on demand"; this means that you don't have to order a certain number of DVDs, stash them in your garage, and fulfill orders yourself. I've also listed two services that will help you sell DVDs you've already manufactured.


Company / URL


CreateSpace (owned by; formerly CustomFlix)

Producers can sell their work on CreateSpace's own store, or on both CreateSpace and (And why wouldn't you?) CreateSpace charges a $19.95/year storage fee, which is waived for as long as the work is made available on Amazon. Producer sets the price. If producer supplies an already-authored DVD, CreateSpace is offering free set-up through the end of 2006; otherwise, additional fees are involved. CreateSpace has a high-quality catalog, offering documentaries, the Westminster dog show, exercise videos, and the 1960s TV Western "Cimarron Strip."


Producer gets 35 percent of the selling price for DVDs sold through; on CreateSpace, producer keeps 95 percent of revenue, less production costs. (Production costs start at $7.95 per disc, and drop as low as $4.95 if a DVD sells more than 50 copies per month.) Payments arrive every month via direct bank deposit; producers outside the US get paid via check. Discs ship to buyers within three days of when they are ordered. CreateSpace recently launched a digital download service in partnership with Amazon's Unbox (see additional info above.)


Producers send IndieFlix a master of their movie (or collection of shorts), on any number of formats: DVD, BetaSP, NTSC tape, MiniDV, etc. If the producer hasn't already authored a DVD with menus, Indieflix will take care of that free of charge. Company sells full-length movies or compilations of shorts for $9.95, and producer gets 1/3 of each sale. (Individual shorts sell for $2.95.)


Indieflix pays producers via PayPal or bank transfer each month, as long as they have earned at least $10 during that month. (For foreign filmmakers, this sum is $100.) Discs usually ship within one day, and arrive within 3-to-5 days by first class mail. IndieFlix says it has plans to launch a digital download service. Very little TV or instructional video content; more geared to indie features and shorts.


IndiePix requests a 1/2 inch VHS tape or DVD preview copy. IndiePix can also author and design DVDs. Site discusses retail pricing with filmmaker, and takes $2.95 per sale for a full-length movie, less for shorter films. Also, "You will have access to a secure page where you can check on the progress of your film's sales and see a `real time' accounting summary of your results." Site supports download-and-burn technology (aka "download to own.")


Producer can upload videos and cover art, and set the price. Lulu charges $6.50 to $7.50 to produce each DVD, based on quantity; 20 percent of any profit you collect on top of that goes to Lulu. For example, if the selling price was $17.50, and the disc cost $7.50 to produce, you would give Lulu $2 of the $10 profit, and keep $8. Producers can also choose to sell DVDs at cost. DVDs require a 3-to-5 day production time before they ship to buyers. Unlike CustomFlix and IndieFlix, Lulu does not make available trailers or previews of content. See additional info about Lulu above.

Film Baby

Film Baby, like NeoFlix, will help you sell DVDs you've already made. Set-up fee of $39.99 per title, then $4 from the price of every DVD sold.


NeoFlix is a service that will help you sell DVDs (or other products) that you already have manufactured: they essentially provide an online shopping cart, and then they fulfill your customers' orders. They charge a $238 set-up fee, a $25 per-month maintenance fee, and then 10 percent of the purchase price for each transaction.

B-Side Entertainment

B-Side will either manufacture DVDs on demand, or sell DVDs that a filmmaker has already produced. See above for terms.