What if you could get distribution before your film is finished? While it’s no secret that this could stack the deck in your favor, it’s easier said than done. In fact, getting to this point in my career took many years and many mistakes before I figured it out. So speaking from experience, if you’re working to level up your career, figuring out how to get distribution from the beginning is a great skillset to develop.
Before we get into into some strategies on HOW to accomplish this, let’s talk about WHY you should work to attach distribution company before you make the film. In short, it’s all about risk versus reward. If you can tie a sales agent and/or distributor to your film before you make the film, you’ve added tremendous value and power…
Get Distribution Before Your Film Is Finished
One of the ways to finance your film successfully is for you to get distribution or a sales agent beforehand. This makes your film more viable from an investment standpoint. For example, if you were going to finance the film, and the filmmaker presented the following pitches, which one seems better:
Pitch 1: “We’re gonna make a film and hope we can sell it!”
Pitch 2: “We’re making a film. And we already have a company doing US sales, and another company doing foreign sales.”
Obviously it’s the second pitch is more powerful. The reason for this is simple. It’s like saying someone believes in your film so much that they’re willing to put their seal on it before you even begin production.
In addition to helping investors feel more comfortable with your project, having distribution will also help you gain the attention of a bigger cast, better crew, higher profile film festivals… And obviously all this improves your chances for making money for you and your investors!
Film Distributors ARE the Seal of Approval
It is really easy to tell you to get distribution before your film is made. But if you’ve never made a film, this can be challenging. How do you present your project in a way that gains attention? How do you reach out to distributors? And while we are on the subject, how do you even find these people?
The answer is straight-forward: GO TO FILM MARKETS.
When I say “Film Markets,” I mean one of these following film markets: AFM, EFM/Berlinale, or the Marche Du Film in Cannes. Or if television is your thing, you’ll want to attend one of the TV markets: MIPCOM, MIPTV, Natpe, or Real Screen. That’s the way to find and build personal relationships with distributors and sales agents who might be interested in your film before you make it.
If you’d like more info on how to navigate the film markets, check out my AFM Action Plan. While it’s specific to AFM, all the film market strategies apply to the various markets through the year. And knowing this stuff can help you get distribution before your film is finished.