Sell Your Movie: A New Distribution Model For Indie Film

If you’ve made a movie or you’re working to make your movie (and I hope you are), you might also be thinking about how you’re going to sell your movie. I mean, despite the fact that filmmaking is fun, there is a business component to it. If you fail to think in terms of Return On Investment (ROI), then getting money for your next film is going to be even more difficult than the first, for two reasons:

  1. You’ll need to worry about money to put food on the table.
  2. Your prospective investors will want to see your track record.

The other factor you’ll have to consider is your initial budget. Go too high and the chance of return could diminish.

Let me explain…

sell your movie

Sell Your Movie: A New Distribution Model For Indie Film

I’ve chatted with a few heavy-hitting friends in the industry and there is talk about what I’m going to call the “no-man’s-land” of indie movie budgets. This describes is a budget range from roughly 1M-10M that is becoming increasingly difficult to finance.

Tax credits and other deals aside, this is due (in large part) to changes in how movie distribution is shifting from a B2B to a B2C paradigm. This makes generating enough revenue to recoup the initial film investment challenging.

Indie film financing was always a crap shoot. But take away potential sales channels and add the fact that technology now permits virtually anyone to make a decent looking movie, and you can understand why it’s difficult to sell your movie.

Lets talk some numbers…

When movies are funded, most people including grips, gaffers, craft services and other crew – They get paid on the front end as part of the movie’s budget. We can also include some agents, managers, lawyers, Teamsters, writers, actors – and mostly everyone else too.

On the micro budget level however, there isn’t enough money up-front to pay these folks what they were formally worth. So there are a few options. Hire less people. Hire non-union folks. And offer to pay Teamsters deferred pay with the added bonus of copy and credit. (I’m adding some humor here – but can you imagine trying to offer a Teamster deferred pay?)

So what does this mean for you and your movies?

Well just look at the music industry. Recording studios and record companies took a nose dive. But that hasn’t stopped people from making music or making money making music. Instead of asking some idiot in a suit for permission to make music, musicians can now find their audiences, build a following and sell their music… Without a middle man – globally.

That’s pretty amazing. The same wide open world applies to your movie.

Do good work and people will notice. Do bad work, and well, you still have the opportunity to find the 20 people in the world who think you’re brilliant. And in terms of pay structure – I made a joke earlier about deferred pay. But I am not totally opposed to some well structured back end deals.

Of course, as we all know there is no guarantee that any movie project will make money. So for you and me and most indies, it will take roughly two years of hustle to churn out a movie that you can be proud of. And all your hustle will help when it comes time to sell your movie.

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About Jason Brubaker

If you'd like more tactics like the article you just read, make sure to grab a copy of the filmmaker checklist. You'll get 65 useful steps you can employ to produce your next feature film.
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