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What is Dark Matters? or 'Let's monetise your horror short'

Posters of titles already on Dark Matters
Selection of titles already on Dark Matters

A bit of a different post to relaunch the blog as I want this to be something of a call to arms and a mission statement. Here it is: I want to disprove the theory short films never make money for filmmakers. That's it - simple.

To set the scene - I am a filmmaker. In my lifetime I have had three different distribution opportunities that were going to make my career, make me money and propel me to stardom. Every single time I got caught out by the small print - the expenses money, the DVDs you had to pay for before you earned a penny, the combo-pack deal that mean your film is reliant on other films selling - and then you'll all get to share 2% of 4% of the back-end (or should that be backstreet?) dealer's 5%. The maths sucks: one major short distributor offered me a £700 unlimited buyout worldwide for a short featuring named actors and a budget of £25,000! The brilliant Indie Film Hustle podcast has been shining a light on this distribution Wild West for years now (and its even worse for features!) and it inspired me to push Dark Matters into new ground.

See despite going through all the paperwork, discussions, excitement and ultimately complete disillusionment of the distribution wheel (and lets not forget the endless 'short films don't make money' soundbite I hear endlessly), one thing happened: I got lucky. My short went viral and meant I now have a monetised YouTube channel. Fact: STILL has made more money on YouTube than through any other distribution deal, career-changing offer, DVD compilation or other vapourware mirage of profitability I was ever promised. Its allowed me to make regular payments to crew on deferred deals who probably never expected to see a penny - no-one's getting rich but it feels good to pay people.

Now I want to make the most of this opportunity that has happened to me and give the possibility of uncapped potential to other horror filmmakers. Monetising their films from view one on a 50/50 ad revenue split. No expenses, no catches, no hidden costs or fees. YouTube analytics are the bomb - they tell you to the penny how much every video has made - the ultimate clean distribution.

For 18 months I have been putting out other people's films, pushing to get them new audiences and trying to make them some money at the same time. The results have been mixed - the issue is the algorithm punishing regularity but one thing is very clear: the more videos I release the more everyone on the channel benefits

Believe me, I see it in the analytics - put out regular content and the per ad revenue goes up across the board; get more subscribers and numbers will go up across the board; get more Likes/Shares/Comments and everything gets an uptick. The more we push this channel into being a key distribution opportunity the more every filmmaker on there can benefit from its growth.

Now its over to you - here's what we are looking for:

  • Horror/thriller/sci-fi content - shorts, features, documentaries - length doesn't matter (phnar)

  • Original ideas, high production values and real ambition - I'm not going to put out a glut of 'There's something behind you' horror shorts, that's what Alter is there for.

  • Releases cannot already be on YouTube

  • Film's age is not important - a good short is a good short, the idea of shelf life is a lie

If its suitable for the channel, it will get a release and be featured here on this website and on our social media. It will be monetised and you will get 50% of the ad revenue from that: perpetual, unchanging until YouTube turns out the lights.

Let's help change the face of short distribution even if its in just a small way. By supporting each other we can prove that short genre films can not only entertain but make a return to put towards your next one. The earnings may be small to start with, I'm not promising instant wealth to anyone (I'm still searching for that El Dorado) but the more we grow, the more all our network will benefit.

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