Thinking About Distribution Before Starting Production

By , posted 5 March 2006

I've gotten a lot of questions lately from filmmakers who haven't gone into production yet with their films, as to whether or not it's a good time to start thinking about distribution. My answer is always the same: it's a great idea to start thinking about distribution even BEFORE you make your film.

For example, I'm big proponent of casting professional actors for a film. This doesn't have to mean current A-list movie actors. What I mean is that there are loads of actors out there - television stars, former television stars, former A-listers, etc. - who are totally bankable actors in the international marketplace. By tapping into this pool of actors, you actually increase the marketability of your film from the get go. Depending on which actors you get, you may be able to make a pre-sale or two, but at the very least, once you have a completed film you'll have a film that's saleable.

Don't think you can afford to hire professional actors on your budget? Go to to check out their low budget schemes. You can actually work with professional SAG actors even on a very low budget! In my book, "Insiders Guide to Film Distribution", I interviewed Paul Bales director of SAG Indie, who made his first movie on a budget of $250K, with professional actors, and pre-sold the movie to a U.S distributor before he even shot one frame of film (yes, he also shot on 35mm even with a budget that low!). By working with professional actors, he was able to shoot the film in 11 days (as opposed to 30), because his actors came in and knocked their scenes out in a day. That's what you get when you work with professional actors.

So there you have it - one of my favorite tips for pre-production while thinking of distribution in advance.

Stacey Parks is the author of "Insiders Guide to Film Distribution", a comprehensive manual for filmmakers and producers dedicated to film distribution and the marketplace. Stacey has worked in independent film for over 10 years, and is currently a sales executive at the BBC Worldwide in Los Angeles. She was previously a foreign sales agent for many years. You can purchase her book as well as sign up for a free Distribution eCourse at and get free Distribution tips at

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