Once upon a time, the odds that a filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa, would have had a global audience for a documentary he wrote, shot, and produced would have been slim. Today things are very different for Yazeed Kamaldien and his 33-minute documentary Imagine the Cup (Imagina Na Copa).
Though the film’s driving force is the FIFA Soccer World Cup—arguably one of the most watched sporting events on the planet—Kamaldien’s camera is trained on the clash of ideals between protestors of the championship who claim they’re about to be evicted from their favela in Rio de Janeiro and the officials who say the residents’ lives will be improved when the city plays host to the games. Not exactly fodder for an easy leap to the silver screen during summer blockbuster season.
For Kamaldien, "the biggest obstacle was the cost," he tells Co.Create. "I've spent six months making this film, including two months of production in Brazil and all of that was self-funded," he explains. "I reached a point where I wasn't really able to invest a lot more money into the film, perhaps not ironically, as it was all ready to show to audiences."
Just before he shelved the idea, Kamaldien was contacted by "a guy sitting in Sweden who heard about my film on the Internet" who told him about Pivotshare. The Los Angeles-based video platform helps creators get direct distribution and make money on their films.
From its inception in 2010, Pivotshare has allowed video content creators set up their own branded channel, think YouTube but with a 70/30 revenue split. Since then, founder and CEO Adam Mosam tells us, they’ve been working with partners to build features they need to stay competitive in the market. "Our team has added the ability to sell downloads, a tip jar for fan support, and an embeddable player that allows publishers to sell directly from their own site," he points out.
Unlike Kickstarter or Indiegogo which have both become viable alternates for many filmmakers to fund their projects, Pivotshare offered Kamaldien an opportunity that went beyond cash. "It was a way of gaining an online audience without having to spend more money on particular requirements for doing so," he contends, "I also don't have the platform and transactional mechanism on my own that a website such as Pivotshare provides." Imagine the Cup is $3.99 to rent for 48 days of streaming access.
Mosam asserts that Pivotshare now counts "tens of thousands of customers and publishers covering the entire spectrum, from those earning just a few dollars to those that have made six figures." He says Pivotshare is also drawing a "creative yet under-valued community of YouTubers" who are making the leap to take advantage of entirely new financial streams. Other films have been used as fundraisers such as the Nefarious documentary that was posted as a fundraiser by Exodus Cry.
"Our network publishing technology is enabling new business models in this space. One of the best examples of that is the FitFusion channel where we now have more than 20 top trainers including Jillian Michaels, Cassey Ho, and Billy Blanks collaborating to make the best fitness video destination online," Mosam says.
For Kamaldien it’s simpler. "I'd love to just simply have an audience. That in itself is such a blessing," he says, "To have your work seen, understood, shared, and talked about means that your film is something more than just your own little story. To have the ideas spread is vital."
That said, Kamaldien confesses, "It would be wonderful to make some of my money back so that I can go on with my career and make other interesting projects, which I have already started on," he says. "Hopefully, if this goes well, the next film could also be made available via Pivotshare."