OpenFilm is trying to do what others have, so far, failed to do – discover or create the next Indie Film hit. The folks behind OpenFilm have assembled an impressive board of directors that include several Oscar Winning Directors and Actors. The goal of the site is to be an platform for people to showcase their Indie film projects by providing an outlet for their work. They are quickly working out various distribution deals for their content. Not only does it want to be a showcase, but it wants to be educational as well – offering live intensive chats with film industry veterans. I recently did a quick email interview with one of the founders of OpenFilm.com – Dmitry Kozko.
1. Tell us who you are and what you do at Openfilm.
I’m Dmitry Kozko and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Openfilm.com. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, I emigrated to the U.S. when I was 11 years old, at which time I started to develop a passion for computers. Before Openfilm, I worked as a consultant in the online entertainment, private equity firm and consumer goods space, always finding ways to simplify and grow businesses using information technologies.
At Openfilm, I work in close cooperation with our Chairman James Caan and other members of our active Board in setting strategic direction. I also oversee our technology team, which will number about 60 people by year’s end. My goal is to provide leadership that will help the team reach its full potential. Being very hands on in all aspects of business, I’ve spearheaded agreements with TIVO, Boxee, MiniWeb, HCCTV and many others for distribution of Openfilm’s content. I’ve also built an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment to make its catalog of music available on the Openfilm site.
2. Can you talk a bit about what Openfilm is?
We are a technology company working to break down the traditional barriers of the film industry. We’re striving to advance the indie film world by giving filmmakers a place to gain exposure, revenue and an audience. And we’re also giving film lovers a new way to explore and find great content to watch. Our Advisory Board of some of the film industry greats, including James Caan and Robert Duvall, gives our audience guidance as to the “hows” and “whys” of making great work. With unique contests, social networking, live chats and much more, we’re driving the world of indie film forward.
3. Many people have tried to create an opportunity for Indie Filmmakers (I’m thinking Project Greenlight, Kevin Spacey’s Project, etc.) in the past and those efforts have fizzled. Why do you think they haven’t had the impact that they should have?
It is hard to say, but creating an easy way for people to distribute their content to the masses, and to appropriate eyeballs that can make a difference in someone’s career, is a key. Helping them get revenue along the way is icing on the cake. The vehicle has to be technology based and its ultimate goal has to be solid. The availability of the right tools and creating the right environment are equally important in getting to the promised land.
4. How does Openfilm avoid these pitfalls?
Obviously, we see the Internet as transformative. We’ve made major investments in a technology platform that can be an industry game changer, in the sense that it offers tools and opportunities unlike any other platform so far. That’s our belief.
We think that the combination of state-of-the-art technology, insight from some of the film industry’s most prominent actors and directors and the opportunity for filmmakers to compete for cash and film financing in exciting contests is the way to open doors for people with talent and determination.
5. What is it about this project that excites you?
Well, I’m a tech geek, so creating all the necessary technology is exciting. Staying ahead of the technology curve and constantly challenging myself and the other geeks involved is a great feeling. But I also love giving these filmmakers a chance. I love creating a new way for people to see this quality work, much of which would not be seen any other way. Of course, I cannot believe I get to join forces, and learn, with our Advisory Board.
6. Your Advisory Board includes James Caan, Mark Rydell, Scott Caan and Robert Duvall. How involved in this will they be?
Our Advisory Board members host live webcam chats, where they answer career and industry-related questions from our members. They also serve as judges for our Get It Made competitions, for which they screen the finalist films and offer their productive criticism and suggestions. Overall, they’re mentors to our community and they individually bring something unique, in regards to advice and professional insight. Each one of them has had experience both in front and behind the camera, so they all speak to the actors, producers, writers and directors in our audience.
7. What are your Short Term and Long Term goals for the project?
In the short term, we want to prove our vision by creating our first couple of major success stories out of our filmmakers. Meanwhile we will concentrate on creating a permanent destination for opportunity and discovery for the next greatest film.
8. How will you classify success?
To see the parameters change. We want to break down those elusive walls of the film industry and really give these hardworking directors, actors, writers and producers a chance. In the film industry, success depends so much on who you know. Now, the filmmakers know Openfilm, which offers them the tools to make contacts, gain exposure and market their work.
Very soon we will be unleashing some of our success stories that we created. So we will measure our success by the number of careers, and lives, we have changed for the better.
9. How do you avoid the pitfall of attempting to do too much?
It’s all about open communication and trust with my team. We all support each other and work synergistically. Over time, I’ve slowly learned to delegate work to my staff, which has benefitted the company greatly. Each and every one of us brings something unique to the table, which we all work to collaboratively bring to the site.
10. What is the monetary incentive for people to post videos on your site?
We offer people the chance to earn money from both advertising and fan donations. When a member garners advertising for their work, we offer them a 50-50 revenue split. Also, via their PayPal accounts, members may accept donations made by their fans. It’s fluid, it’s easy and it’s also exciting for the filmmakers to be able to simply upload their content, attach their PayPal information and make money for their hard work. This is not counting the extremely large distribution network that we are creating, each outlet of which offers an opportunity to generate revenue.
Also, through our tools on the site, we offer a matrix to measure the results in almost real time allowing filmmakers to optimize their work for maximum prosperity.