The living-room TV, not Cannes, may be independent film’s best friend

Great article in the Los Angeles Times about VOD, or Video on Demand for indie films. Another example of multi-platform broadcasting:

For years, filmmakers flocked to the Cannes Film Festival to sell their independently financed movies, confident they’d soon see their work exhibited in movie theaters. Like so many show business dreams, those visions have been vanishing quickly as numerous distributors of film-festival fare closed their doors after losing money or corporate support. But there’s a potential savior on the horizon called video on demand — and it may be hiding somewhere inside your cable television box.

Just as the videocassette and the DVD brought untold billions into studio coffers, video-on-demand distribution may deliver some much-needed economic relief to independent cinema, those often highbrow dramas and low-budget genre films made outside the studio system that have been struggling to turn a profit. It’s likely that of the hundreds of movies headed to this year’s Cannes festival (which opens Wednesday), only a handful will attract an American theatrical distributor, but scores may land video-on-demand deals.

“I think it is inevitable that it will succeed,” said John Sloss, a lawyer and leading sales agent for independent film who this July will launch his own video-on-demand cable service, called Cinetic Film Buff. “Imagine the coolest, most imaginative film-literate person programming your Netflix queue. That’s what this channel can be.”

Unlike some Internet-based movie services, such as Amazon on Demand and YouTube Screening Room, video-on-demand movies arrive on your television set, not your computer. Cable subscribers with VOD channels can pick from several dozen independent films; with just a few clicks on the remote, the video-on-demand movie starts in seconds, rather than a more limited number of films that begin at prescribed times, as is the case with pay-per-view titles.