Ensuring an Audience and Repaying Investors

By , posted 1 April 2006

Film Distribution is the final frontier in the film production process. Many filmmakers begin production on their film without giving any thought to film distribution. For this reason, many independent films never see the light of day, and investors never get paid back.

One way to practice responsible film making, is to have a film distribution plan in place before beginning actual production. First of all, consider the type of film you are making (feature film, short film, documentary) and whether or not your film has a chance of getting released into movie theaters, on television, or on DVD. This is not the time to lie to yourself! Take a look at the films out there (in movie theaters, on tv, and in video stores), and do an honest assessment of where your independent film fits in the marketplace.

Next, consider all the exciting distribution opportunities available to filmmakers today. Your film didn't get a distribution deal at Sundance Film Festival? No sweat! You can actually release your film into the theaters yourself. Want to have your film released on DVD but the distribution companies aren't paying you any attention? Again, you can get the job done yourself. Want to hire a professional team to develop worldwide sales projections for your film so that you can go raise money based on future sales of your film? There are companies out there that offer this service without tying you into any long-term commitments or contracts.

The bottom line is that Film Distribution is the business side to filmmaking that filmmakers don't often think about. For example, working as a foreign sales agent one of the first things that struck me was how filmmakers never made a dime from sales made on their films. Granted, part of this is the fault of the foreign sales agency in that the systems that are currently in place allow for revenue from sales of films to cover the sales agencies’ overheads and expenses going to all the markets. By the time agencies recoup all their ‘marketing expenses’ there isn't much left for the filmmaker. However if filmmakers spent time educating themselves on distribution, many of the common pitfalls could be averted.

So like I said, film distribution is paramount to making sure your film get an audience, and more importantly that you can make some money to pay your investors back. Otherwise, how are you going to get them to pony up cash for your next film?

Stacey Parks is the author of "Insider’s 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 ten years and is currently an Independent Sales Rep. She was previously a Foreign Sales Agent for several years. You can purchase "Insiders Guide to Film Distribution", as well as sign up for a free distribution eCourse at www.film-distribution-secrets.com.

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