NOTE: I ended up going with CreateSpace. See below for my thoughts.
Putting together a list of places that do DVD fulfillment for preliminary research on who I’m going to use for my short, “Stull”. So far I’ve got…
CreateSpace (formerly CustomFlix)
– Owned by Amazon.com
– Markets their simplicity
– Indie Film spinoff of CDBaby
– 30/70 Split with filmmakers, lots of VOD deals
So far I haven’t seen a place that advertises the ability to let you take pre-orders. I’d love to be able to do some marketing right now while I work on getting the DVD together.
Please leave suggestions of other companies I should look into — or experiences with the above — in the comments.
UPDATE: Found a new one thanks to Ted Hope…
Looks like they mainly do fulfillment, but they will bid on manufacturing as well.
FURTHER UPDATE: Another one thanks to Jon Reiss…
They can do a whole e-commerce store, get you listed on Amazon. They do have a set-up fee. Here’s a whole run-down of their services. UPDATE FEB 2, 2011: Gone out of business
EVEN FURTHER UPDATE, FEB 28 2010: So I ended up going with CreateSpace. I like how relatively easy the process was, and the one question I had after I got back the proof was answered promptly. (The question was whether I had to order another proof after resubmitting the artwork to fix some issues with how things aligned on the back in their printing. Answer: no, but then I was submitting blind.)
The quality of the discs is fine, just a notch down from standard commercial and probably not noticeable by most laymen, especially if you have good cover art. They only offer DVD-R, which isn’t 100% compatible, but so far I’ve had no complaints.
Their tiered pricing is also pretty good. I was going to order 75 copies, but it was the exact same price to order 100, so that’s what I did. The cost was $297 + tax and shipping. All in all, it came out to $345, or $3.45/disc. So that means I can sell these discs that I’ve ordered for $10 and make $6.55 profit per. Not that I’m probably going to end up doing many direct sales, these copies are for cast, crew, friends, industry contacts and festivals.
Some problems: it doesn’t look like Amazon/CreateSpace shares the info of who bought your discs. Not even zipcodes. This is really important information for filmmakers. Also, the page I have to link to for sales looks really crappy, especially the auto-generated image of the DVD, which looks off-alignment. Amazon knows how to make a good-looking sales page, so there’s really no excuse for this. There’s not even a place for me to put in specs about the disc, like all the bonus features and sound mix info.
So, as much of a 100-lb gorilla it might seem to have Amazon in this space, there is definitely room for other companies, and much room for improvement with CreateSpace. A filmmaker doing more than a tiny rollout (like I am), will almost certainly want to use a more robust fulfillment company.