Film distribution is changing fast. What worked in the old days doesn’t work anymore.
If you’re looking for information on how to sell your movie, it’s a safe bet that you either made a movie or are working towards making your next movie.
In both instances, developing a strategy to get your movie seen and selling is essential in learning about film distribution. Making a feature film is a fantastic accomplishment!
To make a feature film, you have to put together a cast and crew, refine your script, find some funding, and in the process, you have to figure out how to ignore all “advice” that your friends and family share with you.
In addition to all the excitement, you have one nagging question is on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker.
You’re wondering: “How am I going to distribute my movie!”
That is a good question. And if you’re crossing your fingers to sell your movie for a big paycheck and a three-picture Hollywood deal, what I’m about to share with you may be a bit different than what you’re hoping for. Ready?
While there are a lot of distributors out there who would like to tell you otherwise, most films DO NOT make money. You’re probably thinking that making a movie is hard enough. Now you tell me it’s hard to sell it?
This is a fair question. And after making a movie, then doing the festivals and not receiving a deal, you can get pretty tired. I understand that. Many filmmakers give up on their films or take a crappy deal. But I want to help you avoid this.
Here’s the thing. There are a lot of crappy movies getting made each year. Thanks to technology, any person with a thousand dollars can grab an HD camera and create a backyard indie. And while this does not guarantee the quality, it does make a market flooded with cheaply produced movies.
Add the fact that DVD is almost dead, and your odds of finding a traditional distribution deal (that pays you good money) are dramatically decreased. For most filmmakers, this revelation comes as a shock.
Where is my million-dollar check?
Look. I can’t promise your movie will make money. Some films make a lot of money. Some movies make about zero dollars. But I can tell you advances in VOD distribution and internet marketing offer hope. . .
There is hope if YOU are willing to DO the work.
Most filmmakers are NOT willing to do the work. Most filmmakers would instead give up on their movie. . . Hopefully, we’re not talking about you. You owe it to yourself and your investors to explore all options and develop a solid marketing and distribution plan.
If you want to sell your movie to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or some other platform, you need to create a distribution strategy that YOU control. This is a new way to think. In the old days, the mere mention of self-distribution was a crazy notion.
DIY? Isn’t Do It Yourself for losers?
That is how I used to view the world. If it weren’t for the internet, I would probably have a whole different perspective on how to sell your movie. I’d probably tell you to take ANY distribution deal. But times have changed. Like you, our first feature was met with empty distribution promises and crappy agreements.
So by necessity, we started to sell our title on Amazon as both a physical DVD and a video-on-demand download. At first, none of the producers liked that idea. I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, there is still a validation of seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store.
But then we made our first sale. . . We thought it was an anomaly. How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had no movie stars. We had no formal, traditional distribution deal. (We had offers, but nothing that paid money.)
Adding to this, most people on earth had never heard of our movie (including you.) But then we made another sale. . . And then a third. . . And then a dozen. . .
That was back in 2006. Since then, our first feature has sold in ways we never imagined. And while the money we made on the movie wasn’t enough to pay for early retirement, I can’t complain.
The truth is, we were onto something before most other filmmakers. And this experience forever changed the way I view movie distribution. Before making my first feature, my “sell your movie” strategy always revolved around one BIG payday.
But I am now of the opinion that making money as an indie filmmaker is more about making a bunch of small movies and getting each one to pay you a little each month. These days filmmakers need to create good work, find their target audience, and focus on selling movies consistently over time.
For many filmmakers, this sell-your-movie talk might seem crazy. Think about it. In years past, filmmakers only self-distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice! But these days, taking time to learn how to sell your film makes sense. And that’s why I put together this checklist.
These days you can choose to sell your movie because nine times out of ten, making your title available on Amazon, iTunes, and other popular VOD marketplaces can pay more than a traditional deal. Remember, a deal that pays zero is not a deal. Of course, I’m expressing my opinion.
The sell your movie checklist should be considered a good start.
Can I ask you a favor?
If you like this checklist, please tell your filmmaking friends to check it out. Moving forward, let’s set some expectations. The purpose of this guide is for you to grab at least one helpful film distribution or movie marketing tip. If you do this, then we can both be happy.
That’s it. Easy, right? As always, if you have questions about anything in this guide, please feel free to contact me. I love it when I find out how these tips have helped you get closer to your filmmaking goals! As I said, if you take the time to study this guide, you might get a tactic to help you sell your movie.
I hope you enjoy this brief guide to getting your movie seen and selling. And if you like this information on how to sell your film, please share it with every filmmaker you know. They will thank you for it!