3 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Landing a killer film distribution deal is all about reducing risk and increasing the potential reward for a prospective distributor. The problem is, most filmmakers never think about this stuff until it’s too late.

As a filmmaker it is important to remember that you are creating and selling a product. Yes, your movie is your product. And like any entrepreneur you must plan for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie.

Film Distribution Deal

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3 Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Even if you do not plan to distribute your movie yourself, it behooves you to create your own marketing, sales and distribution strategy. The reason for this is simple. Most filmmakers do not do this. As a result, nearly every filmmaker approaches a prospective distributor the same way:

“Well… Here’s my movie. Can you give me an awesome film distribution deal?”

This is the incorrect approach because it gives you absolutely no leverage and no room for negotiation. The better approach would be to go into each distribution meeting knowing that you don’t actually need a film distribution deal. You achieve this by creating your own marketing plan.

While there are a lot of options to consider when sketching out an effective marketing, sales and distribution plan, the following three factors could affect your film distribution deal.

1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
To get started, you need to ask yourself: Who is my intended target audience? If you can look at your movie concept objectively and you can’t answer that question in five seconds or less, then you need to think harder or evaluate your original concept.

2. What Is Your Hook?
In general business, every company has to figure out their USP. In the world of movies, your unique selling proposition is actually described as your hook. What makes your movie different than the gazillion other movies being made. And why should I care?

3. What Is Your Marketing Budget?
As a filmmaker, marketing is probably the last thing you want to consider. But with the demise of physical DVD distribution, things are changing. As a result YOU are responsible for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie. Allocate 50% of your budget to cover these costs.

This filmmaking lesson is simple. The time to start planning is today. And if any of this seems confusing, check out my newly updated guide to indie distribution.

5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

Finding Indie Film Funding is one of the most challenging aspects of getting your movie made.

While there are many reasons that prevent you from closing the deal, if you find your pitch is consistently rejected, you may need to take a look at your marketing plan. While I am sure your plan cites how a half-dozen comparable (successful) movies were sold and distributed, most savvy investors will agree that movie comps are malarkey.

Reducing investor risk requires that you go a little further.

If you’re like most filmmakers, odds are good you haven’t taken time to plan out a marketing, sales and distribution plan that YOU control. And without a refined strategy on how to get your movie into the marketplace, you simply do not have a business. You have a very risky hobby.

As a general rule, most investors would rather invest in businesses over hobbies.

Finding indie film funding gets a lot less complicated (notice I didn’t use the word easier) when you take time to view your movie like a traditional business. This means you will need to answer some tough business related questions.

indie film funding

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5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

So here are the 5 questions for indie film funding. Take some time to really answer each question:

  1. Who is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Target Audience?
  4. What is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales to Break Even?

These questions are not easy to answer. This is because each movie is different. And each movie requires a unique approach. But if you take the time to answer these questions, you may leapfrog all the other yahoos who are just winging it.

If you are looking for indie film funding, you may benefit from the Film Finance Guide.

How To Generate Movie Ideas That Sell

A few weeks back I was at my dentist. We got to talking about movie ideas. And she immediately started telling me about some story she’s been writing for close to a decade.

That wouldn’t be too bad, except I’m paying her to drill my teeth.

And her story sucks.

Well, let me clarify…

I didn’t actually read her screenplay. For all I know the execution could be fabulous. But in terms of finding a remarkable hook that would lead her (or a distributor) to fulfilling my seven si·ne qua non distribution tactics, there was nothing there.

Nothing memorable. Nothing remarkable. And nothing exciting…

I recommended that she hire an A-List movie star and call it a day.

(That is what I call generic advice for generic movie ideas.)

As a filmmaker your success depends on your ability to produce and pitch movie ideas that sell. A good movie idea is memorable. It makes people raise an eyebrow and respond, “that’s interesting!” And it’s the sort of thing people remember long after you left the conversation.

From a business perspective, great movie ideas have a clearly defined target audience. If you can’t define your audience, you’ve either never thought about creating movie ideas that sell… Or you’re pretending that everybody on earth is your audience.

If that’s your situation, allow me to share a saying that applies to your movie business:

“Everybody is nobody. It’s niches will make you riches.”

movie ideas

Movie Ideas That Sell

The first step to planning your movie and finding your niche begins with brainstorming a few movie ideas. Write down a list of at least a dozen movie concepts that seem interesting to you. From there, pick the most appealing idea.

Keep in mind that getting your movie made, seen and selling is not a fast process. So in addition to creating marketable concept, you have to love your material. If you cannot have fun with your story, then why make the movie?

Once you focus on a concept, distill your movie into one concise sentence known as a log-line.

For example, let’s say your movie is described as “Zombies attack people.” Obviously this is a very succinct log-line, but it lacks the necessary detail to make your movie memorable. So your next job is to incorporate some flavorful elements back into your log-line.

Here is the same example with added detail: “Zombies attack a camp for the mentally challenged.”

While socially inappropriate, the extra detail adds sizzle to the description.

This will help you in two ways. Firstly, a unique description makes it easy for your audience to immediately understand how your movie differs from all the other movies in the genre. And secondly, from a marketing perspective, the words “zombies,” “zombies attack,” and “zombie movies” will help you to refine target your core audience.

Later, these targeted keywords will help you jump-start your internet search engine optimization campaign.

If you like these filmmaking tips, you’ll love my Sell Your Movie System.

 

Who Is Your Target Audience?

The other day I posted this question to our Facebook Filmmaking Stuff community:

“Who is your target audience?”

The responses were varied. Filmmakers chimed in with everything from “tweens” to “adults over 30.” Many filmmakers responded with the word: “Everybody!”

While I love the enthusiasm, without much exception, defining your audience by age or gender is extremely broad. And unlike the major movie studios, you do not have the marketing budget to support this.

target_audience

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Every week at least one filmmaker emails me with something like this:

“I made a movie and we just won best picture at a regional festival you never heard of! Since my movie appeals to every man, woman and child on the planet, I want to sell it for a million dollars? How do I make this happen?”

Can you understand why this sentiment is seriously flawed?

If your movie does not have enough juice to get a an awesome distribution deal, your returns will be limited by your own marketing and distribution efforts.

Let me be very clear.

I have been working in distribution for a half-decade and I can tell you that even great movies end up with crappy distribution deals.

The truth is, most film distribution deals suck.

And without a marketing budget to reach a global audience, you must focus on finding your niche audience.

One of the first places to find your audience is the local newsstand. If there are print magazines devoted to your movie subject, then those subscribers are part of your target audience. In addition to print, you will want to explore the Internet for online publications.

Open up a spreadsheet and add these publications to your list. Your goal is to create a database of the top fifty publications geared towards your niche audience.

Make a list of 5 ideal movie fan categories for your title

Once you create your list of print publications catering to your niche, your next step is to understand your audience.

To do this, reach out to the top ten publications on your list and ask them to forward information about their subscriber demographics. Since magazine revenue is based on understanding their subscribers, most established publications will have this info readily available.

From there, you will want to study this info and get to know your audience.

Who are these people?

Are they primarily men? Women? Teenagers? Do they have jobs? Are they business owners or unemployed? What is the average income? Are they college educated? Do they live in the city or on the farm?

From this information, you can create audience profiles for five ideal types of movie fans that you want to target within your niche.

Figure out why these fans should watch your movie.

In addition to getting inside the head of your audience, your next task is to figure out why these people enjoy your genre. Why would they want to watch your movie? What makes your movie unique from the other, competing movies in existence? How will your movie to appeal to viewing needs of your audience?

Who Is Your Target Audience: Action Steps

1. Who is your primary target audience?
Ex: Mid-west, male college kids who love zombie movies. 

2. What makes your movie different from competing movies?
Ex: Our movie is about zombies that attack ninjas.

3. Why should your audience spend two hours watching your movie?
Ex: Fangoria says: Funniest zombie movie since Shaun of the Dead!

Taking time to understand your audience will enable you to create an image of your ideal audience member. This information will then be utilized when you create and refine your marketing message.

If you have a movie you’re looking to sell, you may also want to check out How To Sell Your Movie.

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