Film distribution is changing fast. What worked in the old days, doesn’t work anymore. And if you’re looking for information on how to sell your movie, you’ve come to the right place! Since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you are one of two types of filmmakers.
Either you made a movie or you are working towards making your next movie. In both instances, learning about film distribution, specifically coming up with a strategy to get your movie seen and selling is essential. Making a feature film is an amazing accomplishment!
In order 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 and I both know there is one nagging question on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker.
You’re wondering: “How am I going to distribut my movie!”
That is a good question. And if you’re crossing your fingers to hopefully sell your movie for a huge pay check 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 in a traditional distribution deal! (I’m serious here.)
Getting your movie seen and selling is really up to YOU!
Whenever I say something like this in my talks, invariably someone shouts across the room:
“Making a movie is hard enough. How do you expect me to become my own distributor?”
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 totally understand that. This is why a lot of filmmakers give up on their movies 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 quality, it does create 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 actually 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 movies make a lot of money. Some movies make about zero dollars. But I can tell you advances in VOD distribution and internet marketing offers hope. . .
There is hope if YOU are willing to DO the work.
Most filmmakers are NOT willing to do the work. In fact, most filmmakers would rather 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 come up with 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 wasn’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 deals.
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, at least there is still 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 actually 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 that time, 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. Prior to 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 sell movies consistently over time.
For many filmmakers, this sort of 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 movie 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 and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially 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, can you kindly 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 useful 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! Like I said, if you take 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 really like this information on how to sell your movie, please share it with every filmmaker you know. They will thank you for it!