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One small company that's been working that business hard for three years is Fun Little Movies, a Los Angeles-based producer of original content that's short, mobile and family friendly.
"Bigger players have come and gone, but we've survived by staying focused on our niche -- producing films that are funny and non-violent," says Chindamo, who started his career producing shorts for Showtime and other premium cable channels. "Our mission is to spread laughter and love through comedy," he says.
UPDATE - Chindamo emailed to tell me that his company is now part of the ROK Entertainment Group of the U.K., which late last year bought a majority stake in Fun Little Movies for an undisclosed amount of stock and cash.
Fun Little Movies has its own premium channel on Sprint's wireless network and has content on that of its larger rival, Verizon Wireless. Its movies are played on the handsets of the two largest phone makers, Nokia and Motorola, and are also compatible with a group of smaller handset makers -- which adds to the hurdles the company faces.
"Going through the carriers adds an immense layer of complexity -- it's a huge challenge," Chindamo says, because the company has to port its movies to the operating systems of all handsets that work with a particular carrier's network.
"You have to get it right on every phone or they don't turn on ANY phone," he says.
That challenge is part of the reason an increasing number of startups are going around the carriers by distributing their applications directly over the Internet, as we reported here. While that's a riskier play, it also provides viral, Web-based marketing that can quickly boost the number of users of popular applications.
For now, Fun Little Movies is still going through the front door, even if that means sometimes working with smaller carriers and making a living one subscriber at a time.
"We need more deals like Sprint. That kind of deal is our Holy Grail," Chindamo says.
When I last spoke with him in November, Chindamo told me that Fun Little Movies was "stalking profitability -- we're within inches of it. He added that a series of short movies can cost from $5,000 up to $100,000. "Some of these are not things you can just whip out," he says.
Chindamo is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, where he teaches a course called Mobile and Internet Viral Screenwriting.
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