How does an independent filmmaker get their movie on Netflix?

by Janice

Question: Hi there, I'm trying to figure out how to get my documentary movie on Netflix. Is there some kind of process to submit my film? Any guidance? Thanks!

Answer from Jason Brubaker/Film Distribution

Hi Janice. This is actually a very common question with indie filmmakers -- how to distribute their titles on Netflix. Here are few simple steps to get you started.

Step 1 – Verify The Netflix Database
Netflix has a proprietary, systematic approach for scouting and selecting titles for their database. And unless your title is selected for the Netflix database, Netflix will not make an offer for it. This is a circular requirement. If your title is not listed, there is not a whole lot you can do to change this.

Step 2 – Increase Queue Demand
If your title is listed in the database, the next step is increasing the “queue demand” so that the Netflix algorithm can determine the value of your title. To increase Queue Demand, you will need to organize a mini campaign that involves getting friends and your social network followers to add the film to their Netflix queue.

Step 3 – Get An Offer
Assuming your title is included in the database and you are able to increase “queue demand” then a 3rd party or aggregator would approach Netflix for an offer. At this point you will either get an offer that makes sense for your movie or they will pass on your title.

Keep in mind that these offers can sometimes be much lower than anticipated – so it is important to manage your expectations.

While Netflix is a very popular platform, it might behoove you to check out Hulu, iTunes and Amazon as great alternatives. My guide at www.HowToSellYourMovie.com might help.

About The Author

Jason BrubakerJason Brubaker is a Hollywood based Independent Motion Picture Producer and an expert in internet movie distribution. He's the publisher of FilmmakingStuff.com and a regular contributor to Desktop Documentaries. Read our interview with Jason here.

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Comments for How does an independent filmmaker get their movie on Netflix?

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Mar 12, 2013
by: Faith

Hi Jason. In step one you say that a film must first be selected for the Netflix database. Where does someone have to put their film to get selected for the database?

Mar 12, 2013
by: Jason

Yeah, I tend to see Netflix through the lens of self-distribution. If you hire a sales agent or find a distributor, they may already have a deal with Netflix - a deal would save a lot of the headache I mentioned above.

Mar 12, 2013
by: Faith

So basically the only way to get on Netflix is to go through a sales agent or distributor or a service like Distribber?

Mar 12, 2013
by: Jason

Yes. You need to utilize some sort of service with a relationship at Netflix.

Nov 13, 2013
Ballpark figures??
by: Anonymous

What's the ballpark $$ figure for a licensing deal with Netflix and Comcast? I'm negotiating with them both now for my film and have no idea what is fair and what isn't. Certainly their offers are lower than what i expected as you say!! I don't want to get ripped off though so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Jan 06, 2014
How does an independent filmmaker get "listed?"
by: Adam

The previous answer was helpful yet the cornerstone of the answer was geting 'listed." How does one get "listed?" please. Thank you.


Feb 10, 2014
What a useless article
by: Anonymous

Q: How does an indie filmmaker get their movie on netflix?

A: Well, first, you get your film on netflix. Then after that, blah blah blah."

So unless your film is on netflix, you can't do much to get it on netflix?

Very helpful article.........


Apr 11, 2014
Why Bother?
by: GRX

You would likely not want your film on Netflix anyway. Compared to the time/cost involved in even producing the smallest film, Netflix pays next to nothing. Once the film is on Netflix, you are basically giving up tons of potential future sales in order to empower their marketing strategy (which is like Amazon, no one needs to make money as long as we continue to dominate the market).

If your strategy is just to promote yourself, than making nothing or losing money on the film with Netflix is an option. However, if it doesn't pan out - don't expect anyone who supported the film either financially or on the back end to ever back you again. That's the gamble you will take.

Personally, I like collecting the majority of the profits on my film. Even if it means it takes a long time to collect and is a constant promo battle. I wouldn't sign a deal with Netflix if they approached me, it would never be a good enough deal.

Apr 18, 2014
Netflix: No Big Money
by: doc filmmaker

At one point, I was in discussions with Distribber about getting my documentary on Netflix for streaming. Here's what they wrote to me:

"The sad fact is that indie docs without stars are getting a license fee as little as $1,500 for a year of use. If your documentary gets a lot of buzz on the film festival circuit it can get a higher license fee."

At the time, Distribber was charging a fee of $595 to negotiate the deal, encode my documentary, etc so with such a small profit margin, it didn't seem worth it.

My documentary is currently offered on Netflix as a DVD option only which was arranged by my distributor. I didn't make much money on that either. My distributor told me that Netflix basically bought 30 copies of my DVD and that was the deal. To be honest, I'm not even sure if Netflix paid retail or whole price for the DVDs. So all in all, definitely not a big money maker to have your film on Netflix (at least not in my case for a non-blockbuster documentary).

Apr 18, 2014
by: Desktop Documentaries

Just learned of a new service called IF365 by Dogwoof (looks similar to Distribber) that can help you get your documentary on Netflix, iTunes, etc.

Website is if365.net.

If you've had any experience with Distribber, IF365 or any other similar agency, please leave a comment below with your experience.

Jul 24, 2014
by: James

I have had a very pleasant experience with Distribber. I have used companies like Maverick ENT. and American World (which I would not recommend) but DISTRIBBER I would in a heart beat. They have given me details into my sales stats and I can now run my facebook and twitter shouts and track if they are working.

Apr 24, 2015
I'm Looking for Content
by: A3SNE

I'm about to launch my Sports and Entertainment website system and I am looking for content. We will be streaming to PC/Mac, Mobile Devices via apps, and our RokuTV Channel..We can do live/on-demand Pay-Per-View, Subscription Viewing, and Free with Yume Advertisment Rolls.

So we can say stream live (or you stream to our content delivery network) your movie Premier to get that live at the theatre feeling. Then switch it over to the the on-demand system.
Email me at asellitto@a3mediallc.com

In my opinion you want to get your film on every and all outlets you can not just one system. I come originally from music background and Sony doesn't just sell just at Walmart or just at itunes..They sell via a ton of stores and online outlets as well as tv/cable and ppv.

Jun 02, 2016
finding an aggregators for netflix
by: Anonymous

Hi how do I go about finding an aggregate to submit my series and movie to Netflix is there a list of them some where and how do I contact them?

Jun 02, 2016
Options for getting your film on Netflix
by: Desktop Documentaries

Three companies that will submit your film to Netflix, iTunes, etc.

1) Distribber
2) Quiver Digital
3) if365.net

Sep 03, 2016
getting your film on Netflix, Google Play, iTunes and Amazon
by: Desktop Documentaries

A helpful (sponsored) article by Quiver Digital:

How To Distribute Your Documentary On Netflix, Google Play, iTunes and Amazon

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