The process of creating a film can be long and arduous – but totally worth it to share your work with enthusiastic audiences. So, how do you get your movie out to these audiences? That’s where film distribution comes in! Join us to take a look at some different routes, how to secure film distribution and what you’ll need along the way!
What Is Film Distribution?
Film distribution is the process of getting your movie out to audiences. This includes TV broadcast, VOD streaming, DVD, movie theaters and more.
Film distributors help you to get your film to audiences due to their knowledge of marketing and selling films, providing opportunities and helping you receive more profit along the way.
Distribution deals involve signing a contract which includes a term length. This specifies how long the distributor will have the rights to your film, and usually spans a number of years. Distribution deals can be secured even before pre-production, so it’s important to start planning ahead of time!
How Do I Contact Film Distributors?
Finding A Distributor
Firstly, you need to do some research on film distribution. There are different types of film distributors who focus on different elements. Some focus on feature films or certain genres and some cater to specific audiences. This is why it’s important to figure out your target audience so that you can find the right distributor for your material. You also need to put a lot of effort into building up your audience via social media, as distributors do give preference to projects with a built-in audience. To find the right distributor for you, take a look at what other projects they may have worked on, focusing on the budget, genre, target audience, language and so on.
Some film distribution companies accept submissions, especially smaller companies focusing on niche genres. In general, details on how to submit to distributors can be found on their company websites. However, most film distribution companies only accept submissions via a sales agent, which we will look at shortly.
Film markets are great for enticing distributors, as this is where you can show them your film directly. Some examples include Canne’s Marche Du Film, European Film Market, American Film Market and Hot Docs.
These markets are essentially a trade show for distributors, producers and sales agents (more on those later). If you are looking for pre-sale financing for your movie, this is a great place to find a deal. At the market, you will need to organize appointments with distributors in order to pitch them your project. For this pitch, you should organize:
- An online media kit
- A verbal speech of around 1 minute
- Photographs and scene clips
- Business cards
- A breakdown of your film
- A website link
Some of these elements can be combined into what’s known as a Film Press Kit. A sales agent can help with this, so that might be where you should start out.
Lastly, you can potentially secure distribution via film festivals. Most film distributors only attend major festivals such as Venice, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto and Sundance – but they do sometimes attend smaller, niche festivals. Getting your film into a film festival is also another great way of securing a distribution deal.
Sales Agents & Aggregators
There are two different routes that you can take, depending on where you want your film distributed to.
Sales agents work on behalf of the producer to sel
l the rights to the film for distribution. On top of this, they also promote the film at festivals and so on.
A sales agent helps you find distributors and sell your film. They might work independently or for a company. If you have spent a considerable amount of money making a film, it makes sense to invest in a sales agent. If you don’t have a budget, some sales agents will work on commission.
Finding a sales agent is difficult if you don’t already have industry connections. One way is to research and contact them directly. You can find a sales agent in pre-production, but unknown filmmakers will likely have to wait until project completion. Additionally, you can find sales agents by networking at film festivals and film markets.
If your main goal for distribution is VOD streaming, then you can skip the Sales agent and head straight for an aggregator.
Whether you choose to go through a sales agent or an aggregator, the process on your end is the same. Do your research to find companies or agents that have worked on similar projects, and get in touch with an email pitch! Don’t rush in and make sure it’s a good match for what you need. Both can help guide you through the process if it’s your first time, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you want to get your distribution sorted early, there is also pre-sale distribution. This is a guarantee from a distribution company that they will represent your film once it is completed. Companies may approve films if they like the script, know the filmmaker’s previous work or if it is a sequel. In fact, some films can be funded by pre-sale distribution agreements, which involves signing a distribution agreement and receiving a cash advance to pay for the film’s production.
Final Thoughts: Film Distribution
As discussed above, there are plenty of methods to help you find a film distributor. It’s important to begin planning your strategy before making your film, but if you’re running a little behind schedule, we hope we helped clarify some things to get working on!
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Don’t forget to check out our other articles, including top tips for after you’ve finished your film script, all about movie credits, creating foley sound effects, where to find cheap props and female filmmakers to follow!