There are so many options nowadays for filmmakers with completed films. For example, you can easier then every before approach domestic distributors directly, hook up with a foreign sales agent to exploit your film’s rights overseas, upload your film to internet VOD platforms, self-distribute your film into theaters, and so much more, including doing a combination of all of the above. But with all these options comes even more confusion! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten more Consulting requests than usual, everyone in the same predicament of – I have a completed film but don’t know which direction to go with it. I call it Distribution Overwhelm.
So here’s my thoughts on this topic – there are many many ways to skin the distribution cat these days and no one way is right. But, you must think critically about which platforms are right for YOUR film. Meaning….. every film is different and thus will require a unique distribution strategy. Just because you’re in awe of someone’s results self distributing their film, doesn’t mean you can replicate their success…nor does it mean that self distribution is right for YOUR film. Because maybe the results you’re witnessing are the direct result of things going on behind the scenes like a really big marketing budget, or an entire team of people promoting the film online, or a really hungry target audience that has been cultivated and aggregated over several months. Bottom line is, with results of any kind, there’s always more than meets the eye.
On the other side of the coin, just because you hear about such-and-such film getting picked up for such-and-such acquisition price by a traditional distributor and your film happens to be similar to theirs, doesn’t even remotely guarantee that you’ll be able to get the same kind of price for your film. Because what most people don’t take into account are the credentials behind some of these films (and the filmmakers) that get acquired for these acquisition prices. That’s one of the biggest faux pas I see filmmakers make actually — thinking results are typical and therefore relatable to THEIR film.
So what strategy IS right for your film then? Like I said, every film is different. So when thinking about what type of distribution strategy to pursue for your project, take into consideration the following and try and answer these questions:
• Does your film have a distinct target audience to market to (critical if you want to pursue any type of self distribution) and where can you go to connect with them?
• Have you already started aggregating your target audience? If so, how?
• Are you planning to submit to film festivals? If so, what is your bigger strategy around that?
• Would your film benefit from a platform theatrical release? If so, do you already have an adequate budget set aside for that? If you don’t, can you raise more money from investors or sponsors?
• Is your film better suited to go straight to DVD in the traditional sense (carving out the rights of course to sell DVD’s off your own website)
• Do you want your film represented to foreign distributors at Film Markets like AFM, Berlin, and Cannes? If so, what is your plan for getting there?
• In what order do you plan to release your film to take best advantage of all the platforms available?
• and the list goes on…..
As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, determining what to do with your finished film these days can be overwhelming. Mostly because there are so many choices and directions you can go (plagued by choice?) and order in which you can do them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts though — anyone in the position of having a completed (or near completed) film and wondering which way to go? What are your plans for your completed film?