Movie Distribution Basics
Don’t think of movie distribution as an after thought.
Today’s discussion is movie distribution. I’m always surprised at how little practical information is out there on the topic. One of the priorities here at Indie Film Factory is to conquer this topic, and help filmmakers circumnavigate the typical failures in the marketplace. The following list is a starting point to help you get rolling in the right direction. It can help you craft a production that’s poised for the best possible outcome.
FIND A DISTRIBUTION PARTNER BEFORE YOU SHOOT
It may sound backwards, but one of the most important things you can do before you start shooting your movie is find a partner that can help you position your project for the market. You can do this by opening up a friendly dialog with potential distributors. You can reach out to the types of companies that would be interested in your kind of movie. From there, try to ask for some project guidance and see if they are willing to offer any. You will be surprised how much advice people enjoy offering.
On my last movie Alien Domicile, I had a good relationship with my previous distribution partner ITN Distribution. Stuart and his team were instrumental in helping me create the right package, and elements for the marketplace. Stuart and hadn’t even signed a deal for the movie, but was still very generous in offering me some tips to help make it a stronger sale.
And he was right. Alien Domicile is the most commercially successful movie I’ve made. It’s already surpassed my expectations on Amazon, and it hasn’t even been released world-wide yet!
My suggestion is to reach out to potential movie distribution partners and start the conversation early. Help them help you by designing a project that is easier for them to sell. You may have to soul search a little and find some creative compromise, but just understand that these are pros. They know their buyers better than you. Build something that you know people are interested in.
BUILD YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
It may go without saying, but if you want to be successful in marketing these days, you need to have some type of social media footprint. The days of sitting on the sidelines as a filmmaker hoping someone else does the marketing work are over. As a filmmaker, you need to learn to master the art of networking and relationship building. There’s no better way to do that than through social media. Social media gives you the ability to connect with people that share the same passions and interests as you. It allows you to build trust and support before the movie is even completed.
My suggestion is to start building content around your movie or project as soon as you know you’re going to do it. Each week release relevant content that not only helps your brand, but also gives readers, viewers and subscribers something in return. This could be in form of a helpful tip, or funny story about production. Whatever it is, it should be more than just “HEY LIKE MY PAGE!” Obviously it should tie into your product, but remember there is no such thing as something for nothing.
RESEARCH ALTERNATIVE DISTRIBUTION
In today’s indie film scene, there are so many options for filmmakers to get their content out. Having a traditional movie distribution company is still the essential goal for a filmmaker, but there are a few mediums and alternatives in conjunction with that, that can help you maximize your efforts.
Amazon Video Direct is a great example of this. Since the platform rolled out its video on demand platform, thousands of filmmakers have taken advantage of the service. With a little marketing, you can turn your film into a steady revenue stream.
Another service, which I must admit I haven’t tried is VHX. VHX allows you to create an online store, and channel with your content. You pay a small fee/subscription to set it up. From there, people can pay a small subscription fee to you for watching your content. The only draw back is that you will need to work a little harder to attract audiences to your channel. Most people watch movies on the popular platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Getting them to pay an additional fee to watch your content outside of their norm will require some convincing.
That’s all I have for today. I hope it is helpful.
OH BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
I’m also offering something that I’ve never done before. If you leave a Amazon review for the four movies I have listed below, I’ll give you one hour of FREE filmmaking consultation. All you have to do is send me a screen shot of the reviews and we will schedule an appointment. I can meet in person at our studio, or do a consult by phone. It’s totally worth the 15 minutes to write four quick reviews.
Here are the links for my movies needing your reviews:
TERRITORY 8 – APOCALYPSE AMERICA
YOU PEOPLE – A NOT SO BLACK COMEDY
DAD’s VIETNAM – THE WAR EXPERIENCE OF GREG SCHWARZE
Hope you have a great week!
Indie Film Factory, LLC
Kelly Schwarze is an Emmy © Nominated filmmaker who has written directed and produced 6 feature films, dozens of music vides and commercials, and has owned successful media companies in Las Vegas.
Kelly also does one-on-one consulting for filmmakers. Click here for more details.
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