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DVD on Demand service ideal for independent filmmakers By Heath McKnight

I first heard of CustomFlix ( and its DVD on Demand service in late 2002 or early 2003 in the pages of Mac Addict magazine (now Mac Life), and was intrigued.  I had directed a low budget, digital video (DV) independent feature film, ?Skye Falling, that was in some local theaters in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 2001.  I was looking to do a DVD release, but didnt want to spend upward of several thousand dollars to have a minimum 1,000 DVD copies made.  The thought of having CustomFlix handle sales and printing, and not having to spend big bucks on an inventory, plus I keep the rights to my film, was very attractive.

So I signed up and began a journey that ended in October 2003, due to work commitments and the cleaning up of my film; I had a whole lot of fun creating the DVD and additional content, and the help I received was top notch.
Later on, CustomFlix began offering the opportunity to sell in Amazon.coms Z-Shops, which are really for indie filmmakers, musicians and writers looking to sell their wares on the massive consumer website.  I jumped at it, even though the fees were a little steeper than CustomFlixs. Im not mentioning them, because things have changed since then, and Ill list all the latest prices, etc., later.

Of course, Amazon eventually bought CustomFlix, and the opportunities just got better.  Right now, my film is no longer in the Z-Shops, but a part of Amazons general website, and I can offer my movie as a download through their Unbox service, which allows users to buy or rent films (minimum 20 minutes long to buy, 70 minutes to rent).  If youre a musician, you can also sell your CDs through the site; check out this link for more information.

In addition to creating your DVDs for purchase, you can purchase DVDs as well on the CustomFlix site.

What I like most about CustomFlix is the ease of which you can set up a new Title (DVD, CD, or Unbox), and the cost is very affordable.  If you cant create the DVD for whatever reason, especially if you might be so new to DVD creation technology, CustomFlix can help out, too, and the prices are competitive.  Note, make sure you check out their price list here  for updated information.  However, the prices seem to have dropped since Amazon bought the company.

How it Works
If you already have your DVD made, its easy to get things set up.  Sign up for an account, set up a new Title, download the templates for your artwork, then upload your finished DVD label and box art, upload a trailer (another plus, since file size and bandwidth can affect your own personal website) and finally send them in a DVD-R of your film.  Note, CustomFlix sells your movie in the popular DVD-R format.  If you need DVD-5 or 9, or straight up duplication vs. its on demand services, there are recommendations on the site ( 
By the way, unlike services like IndieFlix which arent very clear in their instructions on sending in your master, and also only allow your movie on the DVD with their logo in the front (you keep rights, though), CustomFlix will publish your disc as is, meaning you can pack it with extras, etc.

Once youve given the final okay during the approval stage, you can begin selling.  Are you like most indie filmmakers and videographers and lack good marketing skills, like me?  No problem; CustomFlix offers a Distribution Guide by Mark Steven Bosko in their How To Guides section.  Want to learn more?  Check out Mark Steven Boskos excellent book , ?The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook

High Definition DVDs
As of right now, you can only put your HD project on a WMD-HD DVD, this was essentially the first hi def DVD format, with the release of ?T2, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Extreme Edition in 2003.  CustomFlixs support for the official hi def DVD formats, HD DVD and Blu-Ray, is coming soon, which is great, as more and more filmmakers and videographers are producing in all flavors of HD (HDV, AVC HD, DVCPro HD, etc.).
    Currently, they have a Blu-Ray beta program going on, with HD DVD expected later this year.  For more information on the Blu-Ray beta program, visit the website (

Using CustomFlix has been great, especially for a filmmaker who wasnt going to be selling a thousand copies of my first feature film.  I would still be in the negative just on the duplication discs!  Having very little overhead and letting CustomFlix worry about the upkeep of the e-store, replacement discs, etc., plus the chance to sell my DVD and a digital download through Amazon is just what every filmmaker and videographer could need.  Aside from some minor issues when Amazon took over, and were promptly fixed, this has been a great service to use.

One other thing, Ive noticed some very high profile companies such as the Golf Channel and more are now using CustomFlixs services.  This assures me that CustomFlix is a legitimate way to self-distribute your films, TV shows, etc.  Also, to be able to send out links to your project on shows you are a serious filmmaker or videographer.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

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