How do you get you film into cinemas, online & on TV i.e. how do you get distribution for your movie.
In the USA, and UK there are 600-700 films released in cinemas on average per year – that’s over 10 a week. There is a lot of competition for screening slots – and that doesn’t include how many films are released online too.
There are many efficient routes to get distribution for your movie: the traditional route via distribution companies; or, through self distribution – pitching and paying for your own release.
One way to get distribution for your movie is to enter a film festival in order to be noticed by buyers. (see blog on festivals). The distributors see the festivals as having filtered and quality stamped the movies they are screening i.e. saving them time.
A festival screening with distributors in the room can create a competitive atmosphere when it comes to buying a movie. The public attendance, with enthusiasm, also encourages the distributors to buy in too.
Sales agents main relationships are with global distributors. They know who is buying; who pays; what they usually buy e.g. genre; budget levels; what works in some territories (& not in others – see blog).
Distributors go to sales agents expecting them to have product that they would want to buy – again, as per festivals, the movies have been filtered.
As a filmmaker, are you aware of the tastes of the global distributor? How do the Japanese differ in their cinema going habits to those in the USA? It’s the job of sales and distribution to understand these differences.
There may be an opportunity to sell collective rights e.g. all English speaking to certain territories. Again, this is something you are unlikely to have insider knowledge on as a filmmaker.
If you can attach a sales agent, this assists your route to distribution e.g. festival; cinema; SVOD; TV etc.
If your film doesn’t have a sales agent, there are still routes to market to get distribution for your movie.
Look at distributors in your local territory.
What type of movie do you have; what kind of films do they distribute.
Be honest with yourself about your movie – is it mainstream commercial or specialist arthouse? What is the audience reach? A documentary or genre title.
‘Match’ your movie with others on the distributor list. (IMDB is a good resource for finding out company credits on individual films).
If you find a crossover between your movie and their slate, contact them direct. Email and briefly introduce yourself & the film – then ask if they’ll accept a screening link.
Going direct to cinemas yourself is another way to get distribution for your movie.
Again, what type of film do you have – what kind of cinema exhibitor should you approach?
Remember, this means becoming your own ‘distribution’ machine – PR, marketing, materials, trailers, stills, physically delivering a DCP; getting a rating certificate from BBFC etc.
You often hear talk of “P&A” – this refers to prints & advertising i.e. the physical costs of showing a movie and getting an audience to be aware that it exists.
When you pitch your film to a cinema, they will want to know how you will attract an audience – and why they should hold a screen for your movie (vs the next blockbuster) ..You also need to give them plenty of time – at least 12 weeks before your hoped for ‘release’ date.
How does an audience know that your movie is out there? PR.
Work with a specialist film PR agency – they have relationships with the press. You need to get your movie reviewed – hopefully good reviews – in order for an audience to hear about it.
You will soon discover that the marketing around your movie has to be as creative as the movie itself!