A comparative analysis
Film screeners serve as the presentations of the film industry. They are the equivalents of PPT, PDF, pitch decks, video demos and recorded webinars.
But with one main difference: in all the above, marketers and sales people talk about the product.
With film screeners, it's the product itself.
So what's a film screener? — in most cases, it's a completed (finished )film, sent to potential clients, partners, influencers and journalists.
In cases where a project is in development and is seeking a pre-sale, funding or supporters, short versions are sent in the same manner to the same group of people. But then it's called "clip", "sizzle", "excerpt", "scene", "assembly", "rough cut", "trailer" or a "promo". Technically, it's the same as a screener (sending a video to a selected group of people), but the naming is different or in most cases, the goal as well.
- A film screener is sent to individuals or close groups.
These can be producer (individual), an acquisition department (team) or program managers and artistic directors (group).
- A film screener has a professional goal.
A viewer of a screener is not watching it in order to be entertained or enjoy (though that might happen-:)), but as a professional task.
- A film screener is a call to action.
The sender of the screener expects the receiver to do something. First — to watch… that's not trivial today, with the abundance of content. Secondly, following the viewership, the receivers of the screeners are expected to: * decide on an acquisition, * invest, * become partners, * write a review (hopefully, a positive one…).
Film Screeners Solutions
First, a disclosure: my team and I have developed a film screeners solution called Screenable. However, the comparative review I will do here will not presuppose that Screenable is the best solution for you. That is because film screeners solutions differ in the way they function, the information they provide and mainly, in the context in which they operate.
So expect an honest review..
ClipSource is a company which offers a screeners solution as one of its modules/features. The company in large specializes in managing and marketing media assets. It defines itself as a "communication platform for media companies" and among its clients are Disney, AMC, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, HBO Max and other big names.
Such companies have a huge and of course a precious library of media assets and they have be managed, archived, retrieved. Beyond that, all this material must be available for marketing, which is where ClipSource's power is manifested. Therefore, beyond storing the media and cataloging it, ClipSource users can manage what and how they send materials to journalists, collaborators (like editors and designers) and of course, tracking all that with statistics and permission levels.
As I wrote, the Screening Room is one of those solutions, integrated in ClipSource.
Security and tracking of usage are two of the most important features of every screener solution and ClipSource provides that.
The integration with ClipSource other powers come to play with the ability to bundle together a film screener and its press kit (EPK — Electronic Press Kit).
The information about the viewership of each client is stored in the client file, as ClipSource is also a CRM.
ClipSource doesn’t publish pricing, as it is an enterprise level solution for large organizations, whereby the features and the price are adjusted to the client’s needs and media volume.
Systems like ClipSource and the one which will be described below, are variations of DAM and MAM systems.
DAM — Digital Asset Management and MAM — Media Asset Management evolved as cloud based systems (SaaS) dedicated to the management of media assets at the enterprise level.
DAMs and MAMs are mainly used by TV channels, streaming platforms, newspapers, archives and stock footage libraries, PR and adveertising agencies and also by organizations that have many media assets, such as recorded meetings, video tutorials, CEO keynotes and more. They combine storage and retrieval capabilities, along with options to present files to the public, to internal teams or to guests.
MediaFellows is a media asset management system whose clients include Lionsgate, NBC Universal, France Television, ITV Studios and more.
MediaFellows has many modules, including screeners, which include encrypted playback (to protect from piracy), granular and graduated permission level for accessing the screeners, statistics, video conferencing and post sale fulfillment, which is also called "deliverables" and branding of the player page, among other features.
MediaFellows are also very proud of their rich API, which allows the system to be integrated with other systems, like CRMs. Being a comparative post, I have no way to compare the API to other systems, as I haven't tried it.
Like in ClipSource, the screeners are integrated in a system tat does much more than showing finished films to select viewers. It is combined with cataloging, hosting, sales and marketing.
MediaFellows don't publish pricing, as it is an enterprise level solution for large organizations, whereby the features and the price are adjusted to the client's needs and media volume.
Indee.tv is dedicated to screeners. Unlike the former platforms, it is not an asset management system and you'd have to manage other assets (images, synopses, credits) and your client relations elsewhere. Which is fine, because Indee concentrates on screeners.
Indee clients include Disney, Paramount, Netflix, Showtime and many more.
There is a strong emphasis on security, with not just watermark (with a nice feature that allows you to set the watermark location and opacity level on the screen), but also a phone verification before watching a screener, blocking of screen recording (which is part of full DRM specs) and the more obvious solutions like limited views and self expiration of the screeners links.
Personally, I think that concerns about security can easily lead to being out of proportions. The is NO CONTENT that is immune to piracy, as I argue in length in another post (How to Steal Any Movie).
Therefore, I recommend to stop at the basic level (encryption, date limit, number of views and optionally a basic watermark).
I'm sure Indee would strongly disagree with me, since security is mentioned a few times at the top of the homepage( "the most secure…" / "securing content for…"). I guess it's a business approach combined with psychology, as the fear from stealing movies overcomes any rational argument about the inability to totally prevent piracy. Ah well.
Indee, like other providers, is also used for sales and for communication with journalists and influencers, as well as focus groups or any other situation in which one would want to have a closed screening environment. Another interesting sector to which Indee is providing solutions is guilds, who usually use screeners for internal competitions or to host and screen their members' catalog and showreels.
Unlike ClipSource and MediaFellows, Indee has a straightforward pricing plan (though it's reasonable to assume they do tailor special prices and plans to corporate clients). Indee starts at $35 a month and ther higher plans are of $250 and $500. The plans differ in the level of security and the number of screeners. There's also a Free Forever plan, but you can't do much with it, except for uploading a video (sending it to viewers, which is why we gathered here, is possible only when joining one of the paid plans).
I'll repeat the disclosure: Screenable is our product. Yet, I will review it here as it is. Screenable might not be necessarily for you. It all depends on your needs and expectations.
Screenable was born following my own experience: for 22 years I have been a documentary producer. I've sent endless screeners to film funds, film festivals, pitching events and potential co-producers. I was always in the dark regarding the question of whether they have watched my screeners. Moreover, even if they did watch it, I didn't know what type of viewing experience they had. There are many ways to watch a film and watching it from start to end without distractions is the most rare one…. Most people skip, do other stuff at the same time (the infamous "second screen"), watch in parts or stop watching after a few seconds and minutes. In other cases, not only they watch it from start to end, they also share it with colleagues.
I was blind to all these occurrences and that was the main motivation behind Screenable, as I knew that many distributors, filmmakers and producers are also eager like me for that kind of information.
Therefore, you can say that Screenable's strongest feature is to provide you with information. We take it one step further and provide our users with insightful analysis, which is — we try to infer, from the viewing patterns, whether the viewer/s was engaged and whether they are interested in buying, screening, showcasing, becoming partners etc.
If I would relate to categories, then just like ClipSource and MediaFellows offer comprehensive solutions being a combinations of MAM and CRM, and Indee focusing on extreme security, Screenable belongs to the field of Business Intelligence (BI).
Screenable offers a free forever plan for up to one screener. The plan includes all the features except video encryption (as I wrote, we do believe in security, just trying to keep it in proportions). That plan is idea to indie filmmakers who work on one film at a time.
Then there's a €19 a month plan, with up to 20 encrypted screeners and an unlimited number of unencrypted screeners, plus branding of the player page to the client. Beyond that, there are customs plans, tailored to the needs of the clients. just like the platform, the pricing is simple, straightforward and if I may also say — generous.
Which platform is best for you
If you represent a large organization and looking for a system that will help you manage your assets and your providers and clients, choose ClipSource or MediaFellows.
If security in your thing, go for Indee.
If you're a knowledge and information fan and fanatic and believe that they are key to a successful production, choose Screenable.
Of course, there's a the pricing factor, with ClipSource and MediaFellows being at the very high end and Screenable as the most affordable.