3. When should I try to get distribution?
As an independent artist, you may need to work on a few projects or short films to demonstrate the style and direction you would like to execute. If you think you have a project that is ready for distribution, then start thinking about your plan as soon as pre-production research and development. This may influence how you begin fundraising or getting private investors. If you have strong partners in distribution from the start of development, you will have their support throughout your project, and their influence in getting your film to the right places.
4. What is a good distribution deal?
This is pretty subjective and depends entirely on the type of project you are producing. Beyond having an experienced producer, distribution partner, and film fest schedule, it is imperative to have a lawyer or legal counsel to advise in your best interest. However, the general objective is to cover any past or future expenses, while still retaining some original rights. Make sure your Director/Producer fees are included!
5. I have a finished film, what should I do to distribute it now?
Finished films can still be acquired by the likes of Hulu, Netflix, and HBO, but you will need to get the best festival or venue for your premiere. If you have a finished movie, I suggest starting with a film fest, and a theatrical screening for your local film press. Your local film community is a great resource to increase your visibility. Hosting your own private screenings for film critics and programmers allows an opportunity for Q & A and more in-depth conversations about your film. You can also contact your local TV networks or PBS station about directly programming your show or film. There are now Video on Demand online catalogs and independent streamers looking for content, willing to pay-per-view rates. Of course, you should always have a lawyer review potential contracts to be sure they are in your best future interest. Lastly, you can always self-release your project on user-generated media sites like YouTube, Vimeo, or TikTok. At the end of the day, what you distribute, is always about the next project you would like to produce. So share what you have. You never know who might be watching, and what they may offer you next! Some of our greatest modern producers started online: Issa Rae, Quinta Bronson, need I say more!
If you are just starting filmmaking, be prepared to make your first few projects entirely on a shoestring budget, or even from your own pocket. But once you have a few projects or episodes under your belt, don’t be afraid to take some time away from filmmaking, to focus on your fundraising and distribution strategies for your next project!