Future Proof Your Film

Film distribution is changing. In addition to the major marketplaces, there are about 200 platforms (and growing) where you can feature your movie. The common thread between all these marketplaces is, they want technically sound, profitable content.

If you have been been reading Filmmaking Stuff for any length of time, you know how much I stress the importance of building an audience and also, allocating monies for your own marketing and distribution. And while putting your focus on the marketplace is essential for success, you also need to make sure your movie matches the ever evolving technical specifications required for distribution.

Future Proof Your Film
A checklist for prepping your film for distribution.

  1. Deliver your source file in uncompressed 1920 × 1080 HD.
  2. Create a 5.1 audio mix for HD delivery.
  3. Make sure you create closed captions for US markets.
  4. Subtitles are necessary for titles not shot in the native language.
  5. All platforms will require E&O insurance.

Obviously some of you have movies in SD, without a 5.1 mix. I suggest you work quickly to get these movies into the marketplace before delivery standards increase. There may come a time when many platforms no longer accept SD as a delivery standard.

While these HD requirements may be challenging to deliver, it is important to stay optimistic. For many of you, it is far better to get your movie seen and selling instead of collecting dust on an otherwise empty bookshelf. And if you are still in pre-production, make sure you include these costs as part of your distribution budget.

If you need further help on film distribution, check out my How To Sell Your Movie resource.


VOD Submission Prep

As a filmmaker, getting your movie into the various VOD marketplaces takes way longer than it should. The reason for this is simple. Every platform including iTunes, Amazon, NetFlix, Hulu and The Watchbox and Chill all want great content.

The delivery standards required by some of these platforms are so high, that if even one frame is messed up, your title will be rejected! This is why video aggregators work with amazing encoders. With a reputable encoding company, the encoders will do their best to fix any hiccups in your source. In some cases the encoders are successful. In many cases they are not.

In the event your title fails QC, your source (usually a portable hard drive) will be returned to the filmmaker in hopes of getting things fixed. This obviously delays the process significantly.

So my advice for VOD submission is this: Follow the specs provided by the aggregator. This will save you time and potentially money.  And if you are asked to deliver your title via Hard Drive, the one that most encoders endorse is the LaCie Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive.