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Amazon Video Direct for Independent Filmmakers

The Black Roots of Salsa

The Black Roots of Salsa

Let me share my Amazon Video Direct story as an independent filmmaker with you.


When I published the documentary THE BLACK ROOTS OF SALSA in May 2016, Amazon just had announced Amazon Video Direct for the independent filmmaker to access the Amazon marketplace.

I was looking for a streaming solution for the distribution of the documentary before, but most distribution channels required a dedicated distributor.

I had just finished the implementation for downloading the documentary through the CMS System Drupal 7 Commerce File, so the audience could buy the documentary online. Unfortunately, I could not setup streaming and playback on mobile devices, resulting in a big issue, as most clients accessed the website through mobile devices as demonstrated in the Google Analytics Dashboard.



I found out about the new service of Amazon Video Direct one month after the first publication on our website and tried to get the distribution through Amazon running.

Unfortunately Amazon Video Direct requires Captions (Subtitles in a specific text format) and the submission of the caption files caused an error. I tried to figure out the problem together with a colleague who has written an XML extractor for Final Cut Pro 7. He couldn’t figure it out! Amazon Video Direct support at the time had not too many insights and couldn’t help at all.

Time has passed and when I logged into my Amazon Video Direct account, just to try if the submission was still stuck. I reached out for the documentation and there it was.

*** AVD – Support – Captions ***********

Timecodes must be in the format of hh:mm:ss,mmm with a comma between ss and mmm.

  • hh for hour
  • mm for minute
  • ss for second
  • mmm for millisecond


Writing a short Perl Script to convert the captions was easy.

00:00:03.19 –> 00:00:07.21 changed to 00:00:03,760 –> 00:00:07,840

And the issue was finally solved.


Some month later, after the film was available for quite some time I went to the Amazon website to check if all is fine and I found out, that Amazon had changed the policy concerning the captions. They now require captions in the language spoken in the film.

As the participation model, Amazon is providing to creators through Video Direct is quite weak I decided to pause the distribution through Amazon.

Find a detailed insight on how to submit your movie to Amazon for all independent filmmakers.

Go to videocentral.amazon.com to start!



Find more details about THE BLACK ROOTS OF SALSA here!



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