RE: Interesting pricing

Karen Driessen (
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 08:42:56 -0800 (PST)

My thoughts in answer to your distributor/new series question.

I would think in your catalog you could list your new series title - with
explanation of "New distribution rights to three previously released titles
(and include the three titles)"

On the leader of the videos I would append your new series title and
distributor information in front of the existing production/director
credits. (You could edit out the previous distributor information if
present on your original copies or add a statement in front of the old
distributor credits that says "Previously released by"...) And of course
on the packaging you only need to include your distributor information but
it would be most helpful to include the fact that the videos have been
previously released. And please do not change the original titles of the
videos anywhere.

At 02:22 PM 12/02/1999 -0800, Ben Achtenberg wrote:
>Hello All –
>Any way I can get a copy of "Happiness is Having One Title," mentioned by
>Karen Driessen? I think I read it back in the day, but can’t find it now.
>This will be my first contribution to the discussions on this listserv. As
>some of you are aware, Karen McMillen, Fanlight’s Marketing Director and
>Distribution Manager for many years, was bitten by the production bug this
>year, and will now be making films rather than distributing them. (Those
>of you with interests in the health professions may want to check out
>leaving for perhaps greener fields.)
>So, at least while we search for a replacement, it’s been my pleasure
>(mostly) to "listen" in on these conversations. Let me say first of all
>that I would be happy (?) to hear from any of you regarding problems you
>may have with Fanlight’s catalog or website, video releases, customer
>service, or anything else. I can’t promise that we’ll make you happy, but
>we’ll try.
>Regarding the current thread on pricing, packaging, and related issues,
>I’ve got a question and a couple of comments from Fanlight’s point of view
>(I don’t want to pretend to represent any other distributors, or
>distributors in general, though I think many would support these thoughts.)
>The question is one on which I would very much welcome your input.
>QUESTION: I think I understand the issues raised about the packaging,
>unpackaging, and re-packaging of series titles, and probably agree in
>general; but let me present a situation we are currently dealing with:
>We recently had the opportunity to acquire some films produced by a
>professional organization in one of the healthcare fields. Out of their
>catalog of 4 or 5 series, we thought that only 3 titles, which happened to
>be part of one 5-part series, were up to our standards and would be of
>interest to audiences beyond this professional group. They each stand
>alone, and can be effectively used in the absence of the other films. We
>are advertising them as individual films, or as a series of three. The
>five-part series is still available from the producer (at a HIGHER
>per-video cost than ours, incidentally, since it also includes some
>professional training materials which we didn’t feel our customers would be
>interested in.) Should anyone inquire about the longer series, we will be
>happy to arrange for them to get the additional titles and materials, but
>obviously there are possibilities for confusion in this situation, and we
>would welcome your suggestions on how to handle it. We’re not out to
>mislead people, but neither are we anxious to direct potential customers to
>what is, in effect, our competitor.
>ON DIFFERENCE IN PRICING: We used to only handle films for which we were
>the sole source. With the level of production down (at least of the types
>of films we’re interested in), we find that we simply can’t be that
>exclusive any more. Currently we sub-distribute some films for which there
>is another primary distributor; we distribute some films for which there is
>no "primary" distributor, but several non-exclusive distributors; and we
>have authorized a few other distributors to sub-distribute some of our
>releases. In some of these cases there is some contractual method of
>setting or controlling prices, in others there is not. I don’t think
>you’ll find any of our sub-distributors pricing our films lower than we do,
>but I can’t guarantee it in all cases. Where we are the sub-distributor,
>there have been at least a few situations when WE found out that the
>primary distributor had lowered their price, not from them, but from an
>annoyed customer. We understand and share the annoyance, and in all cases
>have honored the lower price – then either changed our own list price to
>match, or dropped the title from our list.
>…MORE ON PRICING: There’s another category of cases in which we have
>acquired films which may have been launched into very limited, low-priced,
>distribution by the sponsoring organization – often just a one-shot mailing
>to their professional organization and/or a mention on their website. When
>we take on such films on, we frequently authorize them to continue with
>their own marketing efforts (sometimes this is a requirement of the
>original funding source) but make clear that we will need to set a higher
>price in order to justify our marketing efforts. So…there may be cases
>when an astute researcher can locate a lower-priced source for a few of our
>titles, but I’d be willing to bet that in 99.9% of those cases you would
>never have heard of the film if not through reviews we have obtained,
>festivals or conferences we have placed it in – or through our catalog or
>…AND STILL MORE: I’m not sure what to say about the extreme pricing
>differentials found by some correspondents. Please let me know if you come
>across any situations like this involving Fanlight releases. Regarding
>less extreme differences in pricing between different distributors, I
>really feel like this is comparable to other products which may have
>different prices if you buy them in a specialty boutique or a big discount
>store, from a catalog, or from two different sites on the internet.
>Different marketers have different costs and overheads. The canny shopper
>will get the best price, but may pay more in time spent looking.
>ON DATES: I well understand that media librarians and specialists, who are
>constantly monitoring and evaluating each year’s new releases, do not want
>to be mistakenly re-reviewing something they rejected years earlier. We
>have the same concern regarding programs which producers send to us for
>distribution consideration. On the other hand, a high proportion of our
>customers are not specialists, and may not be aware of films relevant to
>them until some time after their release dates. It’s been our experience
>with many of our best older titles that customers may pass over them if
>they see an older date in the catalog, but that once they preview, they
>Our present uneasy compromise – and, again, I would welcome feedback – is
>that we do NOT list dates in our catalog (nor, this year, are we including
>ISBN numbers there) but they (both) ARE listed on our website – and of
>course are available at any time by checking with our staff by
>ETC., ETC.: I was interested in some of Karen Driessen’s other comments
>about needed bibliographic information. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any
>way that much of this is going to be making its way into the limited space
>available in our catalog – but it’s possible that we could add it to the
>website, if people feel that would be useful. Given that it may not happen
>all at once, what do people feel would be the most helpful information
>(besides dates and ISBN’s) to start with?
>I’ll be glad to hear back from you.
>Ben Achtenberg
>Fanlight Productions
>Ben Achtenberg
>Fanlight Productions
>4196 Washington St, Suite 2
>Boston, MA 02131
>(800) 937-4113 / (617) 469-4999
>Fax: (617) 469-3379
Karen C. Driessen, Director Phone: 406-243-2856
Instructional Media Services (MMLAO1) FAX: 406-243-4067
32 Campus Drive #4968 E-mail:
The University of Montana
Missoula MT 59812-4968