Vimeo previews pay-to-rent movie-streaming service

Independent filmmakers and their fans have found a new way to post and watch full-length films with streaming site Vimeo’s new pay-to-rent service.

Vimeo hasn’t officially rolled out film rentals, but Tuesday the service posted six independent movies as a preview of the rental service that will launch in coming months.

Vimeo launched a suite of professional services in September, such as a music store that lets filmmakers license songs for their soundtracks. A tip jar also let you donate cash for the clips you enjoyed the most. Now Vimeo says it’s taking those services to another level. With Vimeo Movies, creators can submit their films for rental, setting the price, the viewing time frame, and the regions in which their movies can be streamed.

For Vimeo viewers, the service offers more original content across multiple devices. For filmmakers, the site is a new distribution channel that provides audience data for more effective marketing.

The movies

The six features available today offer a glimpse as to the types of films Vimeo will be renting when the full-length streaming rolls out early next year. A documentary about the Anonymous hacking group, We Are Legion, is $5, as is actor Javier Bardem’s first directorial effort, “Sons of the Clouds,” a documentary about Western Sahara refugees.

Vimeo is not the first site to rent feature films, but its emphasis on independent, creative content is unique. A group of filmmakers founded the site in 2004 as a creative outlet for aspiring professionals rather than a source for viral cat videos.

YouTube, the birthplace of viral cat videos, started a film rental service in 2010 that focused more on studio releases. The site gradually expanded its service to include a library of mainstream Hollywood films like the Twilight series and newer James Bond movies.

Vimeo and YouTube offer individual films for rent, as opposed to membership-based streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.

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