How to successfully sell my documentary on Vimeo VOD ?

by Jacques Matthey
(Neuchatel, Switzerland)

Afghan Memento Documentary

Afghan Memento Documentary

Hi everybody! Thx for all the helpful information. As an independent filmmaker based in Switzerland, the VOD distribution is a real chance to have a huge audience. Switzerland is a very nice country to live in, but the audience is really small. No chance to get enough money with theatrical releases, even with dvd/blu-ray sales.

So I was really excited by the new Vimeo VOD service when they launched it... After three months, I'm a little bit disappointed and wonder what I can do to attract people to my film ?

Any ideas, advice, etc ?

THX for your answers.

Afghan Memento | Watch The Trailer:

Afghan Memento Documentary | SYNOPSIS

In 1988, Olivier Brodard -a twenty one year old idealist- made a six-month humanitarian trip to Afghanistan under Soviet occupation with $50,000 in his backpack destined for the local populations.

Entering illegally via Pakistan Olivier, along with his friend Paul Castella, made the arduous journey on foot, camel and tank to the Pansir Valley. They met commander Massoud and shared the daily life of the afghan people witnessing first hand the front line of the Afghan battle against the Soviet Union.

When Olivier reluctantly returned home to Switzerland, he had a terrible car accident. After weeks in a deep coma, he woke up with severe amnesia and the new challenge of rebuilding his life.

With the help of his detailed diaries and photographs taken at the time, Olivier attempts to explore his memories and recover a part of his own identity that had been lost.

Afghan Memento tells the story of a fearless journey made by two men in their prime, but more than that, it is an elegant rendering of where our experiences, memories and identity intersect.

Again, any advice or ideas to help get the word out is appreciated!

Best regards,

Jacques Matthey

Comments for How to successfully sell my documentary on Vimeo VOD ?

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Aug 27, 2013
marketing & distribution
by: Desktop Documentaries (Faith)

Hi Jacques, Thanks for sharing your documentary with us. First of all, congratulations on completing your film. That's a major accomplishment in and of itself!

Your question hits on a very important and common struggle among filmmakers. Myself included! "How to actually find an audience to watch (and buy) your film."

Finishing the film is simply job #1. It can take just as much work (if not more) to promote it and get it out into the world. VOD players like Vimeo are fantastic, but just posting the film online doesn't equal sales as you have learned.

Distribution is a HUGE topic, so here are just a few ideas to get you started:

1) Find people of influence around the topic of your documentary and alert them about your film through their blogs, Facebook, Twitter accounts, etc. Maybe even write a guest post for their websites (just like you did here on our site!)

2) Send out press releases to your local media where you and the subjects of your film live.

3) Contact organizations around Amnesia and see if they can help you promote the film to their constituency.

4) You could also consider "paid" advertising.

The idea is to figure out who is your TARGET AUDIENCE.. who are the exact people who would be MOST interested to see your film (people who have experienced amnesia?). Where do those people "hang out"? Facebook pages? Websites? Can you organize community screenings to build up interest? If you can get your CORE audience interested and excited about the film, then they will spread it to their own networks.

Additional resources:

Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age" (free e-book) by Scott A. Kirsner

The Film Collaborative - A great resource for all things film distribution.

Good luck Jacques and please check back and let us know how things develop.


Aug 27, 2013
Selling on "Vimeo"...
by: James

I think you can market your videos on Vimeo for sale, but there are charges entailed. I think in order to be able to market and to sell videos on Vimeo, you must upgrade your membership status to premium. There are different levels of premium status, and I think the "Professional Membership" is about the only one you can use to market and sell your video products. I also believe that there are fees entailed that you must pay and adhere to, in order to market and sell videos online at vimeo.com. At least that's what I thought I read when I explored the different options for using vimeo. Good Luck Jacques.

Aug 28, 2013
THX for these advices
by: Jacques Matthey

Hi !

Thank you for these answers. I will try to apply all these ideas and give you back my experience.


Oct 29, 2013
our experience on vimeo on demand
by: HTR

Hi, We're distributing through Vimeo On Demand right now, too, here is the film - https://vimeo.com/ondemand/3359
This is not the only platform we are distributing on - the film is also available on itunes, amazon, on DVD-s and other carriers.
Vimeo On Demand has pros and cons. the greatest part is that it is new and small, which means less competition (relatively). for example, after a couple of weeks after launching on Vimeo, our film was on the homepage of Vimeo on Demand, in a special section called Amazing adventures. and it stayed on the homepage for about a couple of months. Since the service is new, folks at vimeo are very attentive to new films, and they are eager to promote the good films that appear there. unlike itunes, where all the giant hollywood players squeezed away all the indies, and it is very very difficult to be featured on the homepage for even a day, unless your film is suddenly super-successful and itunes notices it, or you have a distributor who is experienced with "pushing" films forward on itunes (and then taking most of your profit, by the way).
The negative side of Vimeo on Demand being new and small, is that the audience is small, too. Although the website has tens of millions of users, most of them not necessarily visit the on demand page, therefore, even when your film is on the homepage, it doesn't guarantee you huge popularity (unless your trailer features in Vimeo staff picks and suddenly gets 60 thousand views in one day).
Other positive sides - the payment is very straightforward and transparent, you can always monitor when somebody bought your film, unlike itunes or amazon, where you have to wait for your report for months.

Aug 29, 2014
Attracting people to watch VOD videos
by: Anton

I don't know if anyone really knows how to do this yet short of spending a ton on advertising. I've had a grand total of about 20 purchases since putting my movie up on Vimeo VOD in April. The big problem is getting people to "Want" to watch a small budget, indie, no known actor film. But ask yourself how many films you rent on Vimeo VOD? I think I've rented one and that was just to test it before posting my movie online. I watch a ton of on demand but most of it is Netflix, CrunchyRoll or Amazon Prime. These services offer a ton of choices that feel like they're free. Just push a button to watch a movie. It's too much work to pay for a film unless it's a well advertised Hollywood movie. also Vimeo doesn't let you rent directly from the set top box like Amazon or the other services. I think the trick is to get people really interested in seeing your movie so much that they don't mind taking the extra steps to view it. Not sure how to do that yet. With the flood of indie films online we're all fighting for the attention of the same pool of viewers. But it's more about the creating than the marketing right?

Aug 29, 2014
by: Faith

Anton, really good points! Thank you for sharing that insight and your personal experience.

Wish there was a magic bullet for selling a film. Yes, we all love what we do and it's becoming more and more clear that it's up to us, the filmmakers, to create our own audiences through social media, guerrilla marketing, whatever we can come up with to stand out from the growing crowd.

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