Sunday, February 1, 2009

Film Distribution in a nutshell

It's hard enough to get a movie made, what about getting it distributed? This little post will be directed to low budget indie filmmakers, for the secular marketplace. So what can you do to get your film distributed?

Most Important Variable for success in getting distribution: Recognizable name. Nothing comes even close to this variable. The overall goal is to get individuals to buy/watch the movie. You can spend tons of money, but a recognizable name shortcuts that.

Second Variable - Genre. If you've got a drama, good luck. These are extremely hard to sell. The movie industry just had a record year in the face of a depression. Why? Because of escapism. That's why action/suspense/horror etc keep getting made and keep earning revenue. Comedy? Well, just don't count on foreign sales. Just remember, Drama is the hardest genre to get distribution.

Third Variable - Production Value. If I were weighting these, I'd have Name as 70%, Genre as 20% and PV as 10%. This is the quality of the lighting, writing, directing, acting, editing, etc.

The *intangible* variables are generally hooks and gimmicks, timing, special factors. Like selling your body for experiments to earn money to make the movie. Or loading up all the credit cards you can find. But these were stories that could get buzz out on the movie. Now that they've been done, it's not new. I don't recommend it.

Can a movie succeed in getting distribution without names? Sure. But for every one, there are thousands and thousands that don't. So before you mention Napolean Dynamite, understand that it is the exception rather than the rule.

Now if you make your film for a niche market, the rules do change. It still helps to have recognizable names in that niche, but PV doesn't really matter. Story becomes the biggest variable. For example, in the faith-based niche market, Flywheel succeeded without any PV, names and so forth because the story rang a chord with the niche audience.

So if you're wanting to make a movie and get it distributed, find a name actor. It's not impossible. If you've already got a no-name drama in the can, good luck. You'll need it. Hope you get in to Sundance.

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