Savvy Filmmakers Plan A Self Distribution Film Campaign

Are you thinking about doing a self distribution film campaign? Are you ready to ignore all those bottom feeding film distributors who don’t care about you or your movie? Do you want to plan out a self distribution film campaign so you can get your movie seen and selling?

Then you are in the right place.

When we produced our first feature,  the idea of doing a self distribution film campaign was considered derogatory. Back then, if you couldn’t find a distribution deal, it pretty much meant something about your movie sucked.

But that was the era of DVD. It was a time before people watched movies on iPads.

self distribution film campaign

And even back then, I thought the conventional filmmaker wisdom (as it related to creating your self distribution film campaign) was stupid and sorely flawed.

Self Distribution Film Campaign

Instead of taking some crappy offer from one of the bottom feeding distributors who presently hounded us every week – We decided to go against all the crappy advice and create a self distribution film campaign.

We did this by putting our movie on Amazon.

At first NONE of the other producers liked this idea. Keep in mind it was 2007 and we were still hoping that someone would call and offer us a gazillion dollars and a three-picture-deal.

You probably know the feeling. In fact, most indie filmmakers make their own movie in the hopes of becoming Hollywood’s next success story.

(Come on, admit it! Hollywood success would be awesome.)

And while I would never discourage indie filmmakers from seeking not-so-indie fame and fortune – with nearly 50,000 feature films flooding the market each year, simply getting your movie made is no longer enough to guarantee success.

For many filmmakers, the process goes like this:

  1. I am going to make a movie, get into Sundance and sell it for a million dollars!
  2. Mom and dad and family and girlfriend and random crowdfunding people, give me money!
  3. Holly crap. I didn’t raise enough money – so I will need to cut my budget.
  4. Who knew practical special effects and pick-up shots were so time consuming?
  5. Dear friends and family and angry girlfriend, we spent your money and the movie is finished!
  6. Oh no!  We can’t fix this in post!
  7. Film festival submissions are expensive!
  8. We just got rejected from Sundance – now what?
  9. We just WON the Best Picture award at some regional film festival nobody ever heard of!
  10. Wait, we have been on the festival circuit for over a year and Hollywood has not called.
  11. Holly crap. We just got a call from a sales agent! They want to put our movie on iTunes!
  12. Wait, I just read the agreement and the distribution deal doesn’t pay.
  13. Wait… I can get my own movie into iTunes. Without the middle-man?
  14. Dear friends and family and ex-girlfriend and crowdfunders, we are in iTunes!
  15. I really wish I would have budgeted for a self distribution film campaign.

Obviously I am using humor to express a point.

But if you have made a movie, you have probably experienced the roller-coaster ride of emotions that comes from being a filmmaker. And the idea of figuring out how to create a self distribution film campaign might feel daunting.

But fear not. There is hope. Here are some tips:

No matter where you are in your filmmaking – I suggest that you plan a strategy to market and sell your movie today!

The strategy behind a self distribution film campaign is pretty simple:

  1. Get your movie live in a few online marketplaces.
  2. Refine your movie website so it has a BIG buy now button.
  3. Drive targeted traffic to your movie website.

If enough people buy your movie to cover your monthly movie business expenses (and provide a small profit) you are in business.

Think about it like this… If the best film distribution offer is: “We will get you into iTunes!” Your response should be: “So what! I can get myself into iTunes!”

Having a plan for you self distribution film campaign will allow you to first explore all traditional distribution options. And this way, if your distribution offer is not a deal, you can move forward with your very own self distribution film campaign.

In other words, what value will a traditional distributor bring you beyond what you could do with your very own self distribution film campaign?

If you would like to find out more about setting up a self distribution film campaign, check out: The Indie Producer’s Guide To Digital Self-Distribution.


  1. Rhapsodie Mc. supporting Ava D Dohn says

    Numbers are valuable for gaining insight into success, but the major number with any planning is the time factor. Jason’s information adds so much value to the world. 50,000 new films per year with almost 1,000 per month and the films reaching large audiences narrows to about 40 to 60 per month if the changeover on Fandango is anything to go by. This means there is over 900 films per month that don’t show in the general market stage. But they can show on the net.

    Now if there are numbers for POV or other things, take into account the cost of time for traveling or for sharing at a film festival and subtract that amount then value in your online costs. Also before paying for net hits, try to see what responses you receive to the money free sharing. Are there enough responses to give you a feeling of being successful. There are 7.125 billion people in the world, there is 318.9 million people in the US. If you’ve gained an audience of 1000 and 68% find your work wonderful it means that you could have an audience, but how long did it take you to gain an audience? Was it worth the effort? Will their interest drive you closer to success?

    While you may desire main stage at a theater, consider the second hand stage post internet sharing.

  2. Angry Artist says


    Good article. Although, as an independent D.I.Y. artist and filmmaker who owns all rights to my work. I am learning the hard way copyright holders must completely understand the fine print before self distributing, especailly when dealing with Amazon-Createspace.

    Wish I would have sold my work from my own website from the beginning and never published through Createspace also known as Amazon. The following links concerning arbitration, gray market, spidering tactics, patents and 3rd party Amazon marketplace sellers do not apply only to books and Mp3’s but to all independent artists including filmmakers who decide to self distribute:

  3. Patrick says

    Hey Jason,

    Great article, as usual. Just curious, when you’re finished a project, and have a simple website with a large BUY NOW button, which conmoany(s) do you like to use for a pay-per-click campaign?

  4. Bayo Awala says

    Hi. I have tremendously enjoyed my contact with you. I wish I have your eloquence and humor. Am 71 years old. I have been a tv producer all my life.I am a Nigerian and just want to make a film or two before I call it quits. I love the encouragement that oozes out of your writeups.

  5. Yasmin Irani says

    We are from India and propose to make a movie on a budget of not over 30000 USD.

    How much budget would be required to market (VOD) the same through you?

  6. Migdalia Torres says

    Hi Jason Brubaker –

    I am writing a Movie Script Version too my Novel “The Diary of Camp Better Place Station” Author Migdalia Torres.

    I would like information on how to write Movie Scripts and how too get my Movie Script seen once it is finished. Please subscribe me and who knows maybe I will see you at the Red Carpet someday.


    Author Migdalia Torres

  7. William Kavan says

    Great article Jason. I’m becoming a huge fan of where the industry is headed. I firmly believe self-distribution is a fantastic option, with the proper planning of course. Business is all about planning and execution and if you’re not planning, you will be project will be executed. Please keep writing these great articles and getting filmmakers to think. We live in a time with huge opportunities that are available and even better ones just on the horizon.

  8. Jim Hearne says

    Most of us Indie’s are aware of the VPF… But what can one use to project a realistic budget taking into account 1-2 week exhibition, the theater nut factor, overall gross sharing percentages, etc?

    Article contents say “there is the 2K VPF to bail exhibitors out on their digital conversion”.

    Period! There is more going on behind the scene that means indie production Company will be taking it in shorts.

    The truth…awaits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *