One of the big topics I’m hearing covered at Sundance right now is the fact that the key to having a successful release (assuming you’re not one of the lucky few who get a studio level domestic deal), is going to be your own self promotion efforts.
I know this may sound obvious but you’d be surprised at the amount of filmmakers (90% or more ?) who ‘blame’ the distributor or sales agent on lack of results from a film’s release.
Now, I’m not absolving the responsibility of a distributor or sales agent to do what’s required of them to get your film to market…but remember, your film has to stand on its own two feet once it gets to market.
I’ve had clients go ballistic when their films made no sales after a sales agent took it to one market…. (and I’ve been on the receiving end of that too when I was a sales agent).
I’ve had filmmakers come back and blame me as their consultant for the fact their distributor didn’t get their film into Walmart, or that their iTunes sales were weak, or that their distributor didn’t ‘push the film’ enough.
I mean, I go to the mat every day for my clients in getting them the best deals possible and fight for what’s fair and gives them the best chance of making money but also having a long term relationship with solid companies.
And I understand the stress of having to pay back your investors but don’t kill the messenger if your film isn’t making the amount of sales you thought it would.
It’s why I always tell my distribution clients up front the realities of the market – and in the questionnaire on my producers rep services page, I ask ‘what is your primary goal’ – because we need to be on the same page wtih what your goal is and what kind of timeline and revenue are realistic given the type of film you have.
I am very much hesitant to work with anyone who says anything in the realm of – ‘I need to recoup a half million dollars asap’. (oh and I wish I was kidding!)
And the distributors and sales agents I work with are hesitant to work with those filmmakers too. So do your homework up front before blowing up your chances working with a distributor by saying you want to make a million dollars. They will run the other way :)
In other words, there’s a lot to be said in managing expectations up front and knowing the basics of how distribution deals even work in today’s market, rather than making references to what used to be 10 or 20 years ago with big advances, broadcast deals, wide releases distributors paid for, etc.
Taking responsibility for the promotion is just a reality….and if that’s not your bag than either hire someone temporarily to take that function over for you, or leave it at that and move on to your next film.
Speaking of hiring someone temporarily, I’ve found social media marketing firms who can take on this task for a few grand retainer a month, so it’s something I always budget for in advance. Or there’s countless freelancers you can hire on sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
This may all sound harsh but I want to always give you the real talk :)
And even some Sundance films are facing the fact that they will leave without a deal and be saddled with the responsibility of finding distribution on their own – either via distribution companies who weren’t at Sundance, or who were at Sundance but didn’t bid on their film…. or via a self-release.
So what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
And that’s a wrap for today everyone. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day and I’ll speak to you again soon….
PS: Only a week left to take advantage of 50% my distribution consulting/producer rep services. Even if you won’t have a film ready for a couple of months, you can lock in this promo rate now. Please fill out application in full and I will let you know right away if I can help you with your goals or not. Click here to learn more.