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Digital Marketing Service for Indie Filmmakers Boos DVDs

By Emily Rothschild, Freelance Reporter
NEW YORK, NY – Jul 22, 2009 - Chuck Griffith heads DCG Arts, a holdings company that licenses films for digital, on-demand distribution. "I've worked with traditional distributors and they apply legacy methods to an evolved marketplace. We [DCG ARTS] believe in quality films, but no one I've spoken to at the old indie distributors seems to understand that the DVD will be irrelevant in the next year and so will they," argues Griffith.

Digital Rights Management, also known as DRM, has been a big business for companies such as Cinetic and iTunes, Griffith feels the democratization of filmmaking is making marketing and branding more paramount than ever.

"As a filmmaker, you either sign away your profits to a confusing algorithm of fees, percentages, P&A; or, you come to a filmmaker like myself with over a decade of interactive marketing expertise and get charged a flat 15% with quarterly profit reports," Griffith offers.

DCG Arts takes an empathetic, yet aggressive, approach online to brand indie films achieve an audience. Its lead executive, Chuck Griffith, 34, has been a film director and an interactive marketing expert for over 13 years. He is no stranger to the digital age.

Griffith was one of the first programmers for MacWorld Online in 1996; he went on to produce one of the first online stores for Disney, pioneered hotel reservations on the web with Caesar's Palace, and sold his interactive branding agency by 1999.

When Griffith's first feature film, "Thank You, Good Night" completed production before 9/11, VHS rentals were still in vogue. Now, after seven years since the film won its first jury prize in 2002, he's branding it and other films to the internet...and monetizing them.

An alumnus of Columbia University, Griffith has consulted on brand initiatives of the world's top companies such as Pokémon, Microsoft, Sprint, Palms Hotel, Trane, and Kraft. He also curated a critically acclaimed experimental film compilation, "Best of Breed: Volume 1".

"There's a need for the $200,000 to $500,000 movie in terms of programming because accessing these movies are becoming increasingly easier via XBOX, Vuze, VuDu, Joost, and Babelgum. Groups like Cinetic want to operate like a studio, but the content is cross pollinating at such a ferocious speed that the key is branding the movie before it's made," says Griffith.

"I tell filmmakers to never put their movies on a site without making some money on it either with pay-per-view or ads. But then I always stress that the filmmaker is going to have to make sure the film has a strong story and production value; otherwise, it's bound to get bad word-of-mouth," Griffith says.

"It's all about two things: your story and your brand. You must rise above the white noise and don't look to someone with a law degree or MBA to do that for you," he cautions. "The other folks are playing a numbers game. In other words, [they] acquire as many films from unsuspecting indie producers as possible and sell off the library. I say, it's a team sport and we've got the playbook." He smiles and adds, "...On my iphone, of course."

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