Viral Video: Happy birthday, IndieFlix

A Northwest original, IndieFlix celebrates 10 years of online video streaming with an original series called "The Maury Island Incident."
Crosscut archive image.

Photo from the production of the Maury Island Incident.

A Northwest original, IndieFlix celebrates 10 years of online video streaming with an original series called "The Maury Island Incident."

Crosscut archive image.IndieFlix, the Northwest’s own online movie channel, turns 10 this year. Co-founded by current CEO Scilla Andreen, the channel has continued to experiment, expand and adjust to the fickle currents of the online viewing experience. It began as a kind of last stop before oblivion for independent filmmakers “forced to either sell out or starve,” as the IndieFlix website says. “Thousands of brilliant, creative minds submit their works to festivals, hoping to catch a meaningful audience. Fewer than one percent actually breaks through.”

I was one of those “brilliant, creative minds” who placed my experimental sci-fi pic, The Ends of the Earth, with the channel back in 2009, when you could either stream a movie on your laptop or order an old-school DVD. Half a decade later, one person has clicked on my film (and it wasn’t my mother).

I predicted IndieFlix would never last. It seemed to be a clearinghouse for junk (my own masterwork an obvious exception), where one needed to spend days surfing through the flotsam to find the one pearl in the jetsam. But I was wrong: Indieflix has stayed relevant by being nimble.

It dropped the DVD-on-demand service to offer a pay-as-you-go model, and then shifted to inexpensive membership plans, which start at $5 per month. What does it offer? Just about everything. Horror, animation, fictional and documentary features and shorts; web-based series; classic films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Fritz Lang’s M, Luis Bunuel’s Un Chein Andalou; and music videos and sports docs on subjects like blind bowlers and skiing in Peru.

Andreen, who lists Willy Wonka, Goodfellas, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly among her favorite films, is now treading even deeper into Netflix territory by offering the first ever IndieFlix original, a dramatic series called "The Maury Island Incident." (That's a photo of the filming above.) Based on actual declassified FBI documents recounting one of the first-ever UFO sightings in the country — off Maury Island, WA, in 1947 — the series is directed by Scott Schaefer and co-written by Schaefer and Steve Edmiston, a longtime Seattle-based producer. It's actually a 30-minute film sliced into online episodes, filmed entirely in the Northwest with an all-local cast and crew.

What’s most impressive about IndieFlix is its commitment to remaining “part champion, part curator” for independent filmmakers. The creators take a small percentage of what will never be a large payday for the films they stream, and they admit to being an add-on to other platform choices (think Netflix, Hulu and IndieFlix). But IndieFlix continues to present an ever-more attractive option for filmmakers looking for a way to show their work.

Photo courtesy of Michael Brunk/ For more Viral Video nuggets, go here.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson is a filmmaker, film critic and indie radio deejay. He enjoys strong coffee, red wine, IPAs and his wife and grown children. He is comfortable with the fact he will never be rich, but grows petulant if he thinks too much about it.