A website launched today that could turn the footage of documentary filmmakers into income. Now in beta, Catch & Release is letting filmmakers upload work for commercial consideration.
Analisa Goodin, the founder of Catch & Release, is starting the site after 10 years with the San Francisco-based Visual Catch, a content research and licensing company that works with digital agencies to source found footage for projects. It’s also a time when U.S. digital video ad spending is expected to double in the next four years, climbing from $4.14 billion in 2013 to $8.04 billion in 2016.
While focusing on traditional stock footage, the company had recently found a niche in user-generated content and Goodin saw an opportunity to cultivate some of the best work they were finding into a ready-to-licensed platform for their clients.
“We provide the shortest distance between filmmakers who are ready to make great work and the clients who will pay for it through an equitable royalty split,” Goodin said.
The clients of Visual Catch typically want three seconds of B-roll footage — for which they’ll pay thousands of dollars. Catch & Release will split royalties 50/50 with filmmakers. (Goodin notes that some stock houses take 70 percent of royalties, and the most generous take 60 percent.)
Goodin and her team have already found success in this model. From Mark Tipple, a documentary photographer based in Australia, they licensed 30 seconds of his short video, Duct Tape Surfing to Dignity Health, a health care services company, for thousands of dollars. (Watch Dignity Health’s version and then original video below.) A recent job earned three filmmakers about $1,500 each for shots that were less than a second long.
If this all sounds promising, not everyone can join just yet. Catch & Release is accepting filmmakers that match the needs of their clients first. The submission process works through personal Vimeo accounts, which eliminates the extra step of uploading work to another platform, and filmmakers can select which videos to share with Catch & Release’s curatorial team. The process is meant to be educational and constructive with staff giving suggestions to rejected filmmakers for how they could be accepted in the future.
To Goodin, the ideal filmmaker for this service is someone who is passionate about capturing compelling lifestyle footage (and who is able to obtain model releases). Often their clients are looking for lifestyle portraits — people in everyday situations, doing everyday things. For example, a major financial institution might want a shot of someone walking up to an ATM who doesn’t look like a bad actor, and that’s what documentary filmmakers could deliver. But Catch & Release is also interested in representing previously completed films from which they can pull extra B-roll, like what happened with Tipple’s video.
If you’re concerned about how companies might use your video, Catch & Release may not be for you, though Goodin is aiming to cultivate trust and is considering a veto mechanism. But if you’re ready to enter the stock footage business, Goodin recommends watching the video on stock sites and asking yourself if you’ve already shot something better. And forget what normally comes to mind when you think of stock footage — no buildings, generic office spaces or white backdrops.
“I think why a lot of traditional stock footage tends to fail is because it’s overly generic,” Goodin said. “And what you end up getting is something that is very inauthentic and not believable.”
Emotion and authenticity trump film quality. That means stock video could just as easily come from an iPhone 5 as from top-of-the-line equipment.
So it’s time to consider what else you can be doing with unused footage or that camera in your pocket. Catch & Release is inviting filmmakers to sign up and apply at catchandrelease.co.
Get more documentary film news and features: Subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!