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When looking to distribute your film, there are two main options: Self-distribute or partner with a traditional distributor to release the film on a revenue share. We have experience with both and can help you either way.
Signing with a distributor means entrusting people with your film. Can they handle the legwork of its release? This means distributing the film within a pre-defined list of territories for a period of several years (five, seven, and ten are typical terms). While the specifics of distribution agreements can vary greatly, it’s most common for a distributor to recoup its expenses before splitting any remaining revenue with you.
Alternatively, you can forego working with a distributor altogether and distribute the film yourself. You can deliver your film to the major online retailers (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and more) via a content aggregator and keep all ownership and revenue, but you are ultimately responsible for all aspects of your film’s release.
Neither is better, and both have their pros and cons.
The upside of working with a distributor is knowing your film’s release will be supported and carried out by a team of professionals. The downsides, however, are that you are relinquishing control of your film and sharing revenue with another company.
Self-distribution has its own advantages and disadvantages as well. Instead of giving up control, you retain ownership of the film’s release and the revenue it generates. However, to perform well, you need time, money, and a strong understanding of navigating releases and promotions.
Many filmmakers will utilize a sales representative to bring the film to distributors and other buyers. Other times, a distributor seeks out a film / filmmaker often buying films at film festivals.
Some distributors have been known to take advantage of filmmakers by overcharging for services or by cutting corners on the work expected of them. The best way to prepare for this is by knowing exactly what you want for your film when you sign. Ask a ton of questions. Stay involved in the process. By working together, you can ensure the film achieves the milestones you set from the beginning.
The most important step you can take in self-distributing is planning ahead. Simply making your film publicly available does not ensure people will watch it. To give your film the best chance to succeed, make sure you have a distribution strategy in place. This means having a promotion tactic synchronized with proper release windows.
When your film is released within certain parameters (e.g. domestic theatrical, transactional VOD, subscription, etc.), this is known as a window. By staggering these windows strategically, you can maximize exposure and the revenue that transpires.
The possibilities are endless. For independent filmmakers working within a tiny budget – event-based marketing can be hugely effective. Bolster local screenings by inviting your talent, utilizing social media, organizing press releases, and deploying targeted digital advertising campaigns.
Some of the major platforms, such as iTunes, Amazon, and Google are open retailers. This means they can go live, via an aggregator, if all technical specifications are met. Other retailers, such as Netflix and Hulu, are curated. This means content needs to be submitted, reviewed, and approved before it appears in store.
Depending on where your film is being delivered, asset requirements may vary. However, as a general rule, the core assets are ProRes masters of the feature and green band trailer, a Closed Caption file, and a piece of vertical key art.
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