The 5 Lies of Indie Film Distribution
Indie film distribution in a mystery to most indie filmmakers. It is filled with deception, scams, mis-information and straight out LIES! I wanted to put together an episode spotlighting the five major lies filmmakers hear about film distribution.
Like many truths in the world these might not be easy to swallow but there is hope. If you have a plan “BEFORE YOU SHOOT YOUR FILM” your odds of success go up greatly.
I see so many indie filmmakers killing themselves to make their films but have no idea how to recoup their money or actually make a living doing what they love to do. I hope this podcast helps.
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Transcription – Indie Film Hustle Podcast Episode #52.
Welcome to the Indie Film Hustle Podcast Episode Number 52.
“It’s about two percent movie making and ninety eight percent hustling.”, and Orson Welles
Broadcasting from the back alley in Hollywood. It’s the Indie Film Hustle Podcast where we show you how to survive and thrive as an Indie Filmmaker in the jungles of the film Business. And here’s your host Alex Ferrari.
Welcome my Indie film hustlers to another episode of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. I’m your humble host Alex Ferrari. Don’t forget to head over to freefilmbook.com that’s freefilmbook.com to download your free film audio books from audible. And today’s show is sponsored by Twitter Hacks. How to get ten thousand true fans in ten weeks and if you guys are interested in trying to build up an audience and build up a social media presence. This is a big great beginning course that teach you how to really leverage Twitter so head over to twitterhacks.com that’s twitterhacks.com .
So I want to do an episode guys on the five lies of film distribution. These are myths if you will that I feel that a lot of filmmakers are sold and I want to clarify it and hopefully do some good today in get some clarification on some of this stuff. So, first myth. You see that distributors are calling you and e-mailing you because your movie is almost done or in production or about to be done and finished and they want to see it. They want to hear and you’re like oh my God how they find out about me. I’m so special. All I got to do is just send it to them and I’ll get a distribution deal. Well as I want to say this word a lot in this episode, WRONG.
Generally if you put your movie in the trades in any of the trades variety Hollywood reporter or so on, film distributors are always scanning those always putting them on a list putting these film projects a list and they’re going to call you. You’re in the trades they’re automatically going to cold call you just to see what’s going on there. They’re always call you. So don’t think you’re special by doing this. Now one big mistake that a lot of filmmakers make is when they do get these calls and they do get these e-mails. They’re so excited. They think that oh my God I’m going to I’m going to make a fortune.
They’re going to pay me a lot. I’m going to just do what they say and they ask you. Hey can you send me a copy of the movie so we can screen it and then a lot of filmmakers will send a DVD. or a video link or something like that which is the kiss of death. You’d never ever ever want to send a distributor a DVD screener or a video link or something else before it has premiered in a festival or in a some sort of premiere where you’ve kind of unveiled this project. No film to my knowledge has ever gotten theatrical distribution based of a DVD screener or video link. So please be very careful with that myth.
Myth number two which is personally one of my favorite myths is that you’re just an artist. I’m a filmmaker. I just want to tell stories. I just want to create my art and I don’t have to worry about the business. I don’t have to worry about marketing. I’ll just have somebody else worry about that kind of stuff. Well once again WRONG.
There are some filmmakers that are lucky enough to partner with a great producing partner like Ron Howard and Brian Grazer or Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender back in the day when they were working together. I’m not sure if they are they’re not anymore. But this is the exception not the rule. Most of us filmmakers out there are not going to partner up with this amazing producer who’s going to handle all the business. And he’s going to write you the checks when you get, when the money comes in and he’s going to handle all the marketing and you’re just going to be sitting a back and creating.
These are very very rare scenarios. You have to understand all aspects of this business from the marketing to the business size, the contracts to all that kind of stuff. The more you understand about the business the better chances you are of having success in the business. If you don’t understand this very crucial important part of the filmmaking process which is the business of the show business and the marketing of that movie. You will be doomed to fail. All right.
Myth number three my movies in Sundance. All I have to do is show up and I will collect that fat check in my dreams of being a filmmaker are now achieved and I could just start waiting to get those job offers from the studios and just make a movie millions and millions of dollars of this movie that I just made because I know you guys just probably listen to all of these sales went on at Sundance this year at Netflix and Amazon and Fox Searchlight all selling film for one- ten million dollars and you are like what to do is be at Sundance well. F
irst and foremost this year was extremely unique in the way that movies were sold. I know of multiple movies multiple movies that have gone into Sundance that I’ve worked on gone into Sundance Serato South by Southwest, Tribeca Film Festival all of the big festivals and did not get a distribution deal. Even after winning festivals of that magnitude did not get a distribution deal or barely made their money back on the movie. You know why because it all depends on the movie. Yes.
Having a winning Sundance movie does open doors but it doesn’t guarantee any sales there’s a lot of great art house movies that came out of Sundance that have never been seen or have not been sold in a in the proper way because they don’t have the audience. The audience is too small wonderful piece of cinema not a marketable product. So don’t think just because you got into one of these big film festivals that you are set. My friend it is the beginning of a long journey. Even if you are lucky enough one of the thirteen in competition for Sundance out of that thirty thousand that submit. That’s awesome. But this does not guarantee success. So trust me on that one.
Myth number four guys. So I didn’t get into Sundance. I didn’t get into Tri Beca or South by Southwest or Telluride or any of these other big festivals. But I’m submitting and I’m getting accepted into all these other kind of second tier next year film festivals. So obviously all have to do is show up and I’ll get a distribution of one of those festivals right. I hate to break it to you but it is hard enough to get a distribution deal at Sundance or at a Toronto Film Festival.
If you’re an independent film let alone trying to get a distribution deal at a small very very small film festival or second tier Film Festival that all those distributors were at the main big festivals are not at that one. So chances of you getting a distribution deal at a second tier festival is very very slim. What you can do at this point though is start building up the pedigree of your film with all these film festivals. So you get press coverage, you get quotes from critics, you get as many awards as you can and that tells the world and it tells distributors that this is some movie that should be looked at. This is a movie that’s getting attention. So you start building that pedigree up. You start building up that the image of your film this bigger than life thing and that’s what those festivals are amazing at not only for exposure but to get all those the press coverage, the quotes
from critics all that kind of stuff and that’s what it takes. It takes a lot of time and takes a lot of energy but you have to be able to do this as well. It is just as creative guys to be marketing a film in a lot of ways than it is to make a film because I guarantee you the creative process behind the insanely great marketing campaign that was Deadpool and if you guys are not heard me on my social media and tweets and Facebook for God’s sake if you haven’t seen Deadpool go out and see it now is a great superhero movie I’ve ever seen. OK maybe not ever seen but definitely one the most fun job fun films I’ve seen in a long long time and one of the most out of the box films I’ve ever seen in this genre in the superhero genre but the marketing campaign for that movie was brilliant. And it took months. The creativity involved with that I argue was this is as important as creating on a great great product as well. So the creative process should be equal on both sides. The movie and the marketing and the business side have to be shared. It is part of the process you have to understand both sides of it in order to succeed.
And the final lie guys. Myth number five. You know what screw the traditional distribution model the hell with them. I’m going to go my own way. I’m going to self distribute this movie and I am going to make tons of cash selling to directly to my fans to my audience. Sell tons make a ton of money selling DVD’s and VOD’s and stuff like that. Well I hate to break it to you. This is one of the scariest of all the lies because you can tell yourself this and you can go down this road but selling a movie yourself is very very difficult.
I’m not saying it’s impossible because we preach Indie Film Hustle that you should go down the self distribution path but we also show you that there is strategies, plans or planning to goes into all of that you don’t just you know throw it up on VA checks and like hope people show up or throw it up on them you know pro and hope people show up. There is a long process of building an audience, engaging with the audience, finding out what they want working with that audience and then selling the properties. You know out of the five thousand movies or features that were made.
Out of every five thousand movies let’s say twenty of them make any serious money. Out of five thousand. Generally because people don’t take the time or don’t completely underestimate the amount of work. It’s going to take to make real money with a movie. Now with that said if your budget is ten thousand dollars. You can make a good, you can make a good return selling your movies directly to your fans. If that’s if you’ve done a good job. If you are and if you made a budget of a million dollars and you’re going to be strictly online and DVD sales by yourself my friend. I wish you the best of luck. It hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. Except for a few documentaries.
But they were so strategic on the way they did it. It’s very very difficult to do and it’s a very lottery ticket mentality which is something we and I completely preach against do not think about the exception. But think about the rule think about what everybody else has to go through and if you’re lucky enough to get the exception. Fantastic. But plan. Plan for the worst and hope for the best that’s what I always look for and I so always tell everybody in production in general.
Soif you’re going to go down this road guys just make sure you have a tremendously good strategy plan, you’ve built up that audience, you have taken time but this is going to take a lot of time and a lot of work and there’s no guarantees down. I mean right now I’m going through this with Anya. I’m starting to figure out where we’re going to go with this movie and if you join our membership program at indiefilmhustle.com/fullaccess . Sorry, sorry for the plug.
We’re going to be, we are having these discussions right now me and Paul are having these discussions about like OK. Do we want to go after big names for the movie are we going to try to do big names for the movie or are we going to try to go more in conventional ways of casting to see if we can leverage social media or self distribute ourselves or you know how do we package is how do we angle this story. You know how do
we angle this product this movie that we’re going to put together. So these are all questions that are being answered as we speak right now. So if you join indiefilmhustle.com/fullaccess , sign up for it and we will email you as soon as we’re ready to launch the membership site which will be hopefully up in the next three four weeks or so.
As we’re working things up all this information, all these kind of questions are answered in that membership course. Not course but in that membership group that will be able to be able to talk and have this kind of communication with but takes a lot of work guys and I’m going down this path myself right now with Anya. So it should be interesting.
On a side note guys I know a lot of you like think of like home video is like, ‘Who’s wants to go to Home Video’. Who want to go to home video distributors. You know there’s no money in home video DVD markets dying up. You know what guys last year it made I think seventeen billion dollars. The Home Video Market. Seventeen billion with a B. Not million, billion with a B. So home video is still also another place where you can go after and go after those distributors. It doesn’t have to be theatrical only guys.
There’s over one hundred distributors that are strictly home video. That’ll get you in Wal-Mart’s, hat’ll get you on Best Buy’s, that’ll get you on Amazon and try and get money for your movie. So don’t underestimate the power of home video. It’s still a very viable option. Guys you know I see so many filmmakers who kill themselves to make their films but have absolutely no idea on how to recoup their money. No idea how to make money, how to sell that movie.
They just kind of throw it out there and hope for the best and they’ve spent a year or two or three working on this movie. They are broke filmmakers with films and they can’t figure a way out to sell it. How to make money, how to recoup it, how to actually make a living doing what they love to do and that’s why I created Indie Film Hustle. That’s one of the reasons why because it frustrates me so so much that I see my fellow independent filmmakers not making it, not able to sell their product not able.
They spend years wasting away on a project and not understand the endgame. So please if you’re making a movie understand you have to know the marketing you have to have a distribution plan in pre-production while you’re casting. You have to understand this kind of stuff in order to be successful and sell your movie, recoup your money and actually make money. What a shocking concept actually make money doing what you love to do so it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time but if you’re serious about trying to make it in this business. These are things that you’re going to have to do.
So, I hope this episode was helpful for you guys. I wish I would have had this kind of conversation or understood this kind of these concepts when I was working, starting out as a filmmaker so. And now that I’m getting ready to do my first feature film. It is very in front of my head of like how am I going to sell this movie. Who am I going to sell it to. How are we going to get it out there. So I hope this episode was helpful to you guys in that fashion. So go get them guys. Don’t forget to head over to filmmakingpodcast.com that’s filmmakingpodcast.com and leave us an honest review of the show. It helps us out a lot and really helps us get the word out on Indie Film Hustle. So we can help more and more filmmakers get their movies made, sold and rinse repeat rinse repeat. So keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the Indie Film Hustle Podcast at indiefilmhustle.com.
Are you guys still here. Oh you guys are still sticking around for the Easter egg. Well as you know and if you guys are true Indie Film Hustle fans and part of the tribe you know that occasionally I will throw in an Easter egg in one of my podcasts and this week’s Easter egg is a coupon code for Filmmaking Hacks.
My filmmaking course that I have up on Filmmaking Hacks where I’m going to give you guys a code for fifteen bucks. It retails for three hundred or two ninety seven. Right now but I’m going to let it go for fifteen bucks. So whoever listens to this you’ve got a few weeks I’m going to leave it up it’s going to be a little bit in jam. Anyone who hears this. Actually you know what I’m going to leave it up. Well I don’t know if I’ll leave it up forever but I will leave it up for a while.
So if you hear this. Just go to www.indiefilmhustle.com/ffhacks15 that’s indiefilmhustle.com/ffhacks15 . Thank you guys for listening. Thank you for staying with me on this entire journey and being a real true fan and listening all the way to the end. I appreciate it. And guys do me a favor spread the word spread the word about the show, spread the word about the site. Anything you guys can do to help me out and get the word out on this. And everything that we’re doing in Indie Film Hustle. Greatly greatly appreciated. So thanks guys. Talk to you soon.