I’m writing this post knowing there are probably several distribution experts out there who disagree with me, but I’m going to speak my mind anyway!
This past week while at the Cannes Film Market I couldn’t help but notice all the traditional distribution deals being done for independent films. In fact, it’s been a rather healthy market according to the sales agents and distributors I’ve spoken to. Granted, acquisition prices for independent films are not as robust as they used to be, but films are still being acquired by worldwide DVD companies & broadcasters just like they always have been.
Now, I’m the first one to preach about Distribution 2.0 and all the new and wonderful distribution possibilities that exist for independent films. And what excites me the most about Distribution 2.0 is the actual empowerment it gives Producers, to take matters into their own hands and get their films out there in front of their audience. I also like the fact that you can add revenue streams to your financial plan that didn’t exist a few years ago.
However, my position has been and still is that Distribution 2.0 is just ONE PART of the distribution mix. It’s just ONE of the 5 revenue streams that exists for independent films — the other 4 being Theatrical, DVD, Broadcast, & Foreign. I’m not saying that every film will be able to tap into all 5 of these revenue streams, but some will….. and most still want to. Am I right?
Last weekend at a 3 Day Intensive Training I put on in London (called Dawn Of The Micro Major Film Producer), we focused a lot on Distribution 2.0 solutions for independent films, but we didn’t ignore what’s still happening in the traditional world of distribution either. Films are still being bought and sold all the time in the conventional way. This is called HYBRID DISTRIBUTION.
My position on Hybrid Distribution is that because traditional acquisition prices have decreased, filmmakers need to adapt to 1) lowering their budgets, and 2) buttressing their traditional distribution strategy with some of the new 2.0 distribution opportunities that exist. But to venture out and say that traditional distribution models are DEAD, and that it’s 2.0 or bust, I believe is doing a disservice to the filmmaker.
Keep in mind my perspective on Distribution comes not from being a filmmaker, but from being on the front lines as a Sales Agent for several years (which is why it’s a different perspective from a lot of the other stuff you’ve probably read on this topic). It’s for that reason I continue to run my seminal course called Distribution In Reverse. Because coming from the perspective of a sales agent and in the distribution business, I’m passionate about teaching filmmakers how to make a more distributable film in the first place. Let’s face it — we can talk about all the new distribution possibilities for your films till we’re blue in the face, but without a distributable (or watchable for that matter) film, none of it matters.
In a few weeks I’ll be kicking off an updated version of the Distribution In Reverse course called DISTRIBUTION IN REVERSE 2.0 whereby I’ll be integrating all the new distribution possibilities for indie films, while still promoting traditional distribution as part of the overall mix.
What’s your position on traditional distribution? As a Producer/Filmmaker, are you still interested in getting traditional distribution deals for your films? Are you interested in pursuing new 2.0 opportunities as well? And which is your priority?