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FILM DISTRIBUTING
Independent Film Distribution and
What is a Film Distributor?


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Now that your film is completed, here's what you need to know to distribute your film.

Film Distributing - IF YOU'RE GOING TO HIRE/OBTAIN A DISTRIBUTOR - WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR?
1) 14-to-24 audience - rewarding stories (aka happy endings)
2) Mixed-genre movies - appeal to a variety of different audiences
3) Name ACTORS
4) Characters you can relate to
5) A DVD audience

THESE ARE THE FACTS ABOUT WHAT FILM DISTRIBUTORS ARE THINKING

When distributing your film with a professional film distributor, they are looking to see:
-If the PRODUCER is ready for the next level (feature film level, or higher-budget feature film level)
-Are the creative people (DIRECTORS, DOP, PRODUCTION DESIGN) ready for the next level?
-Distributors check the KEY CREATIVES. They want to know what these people do at different budget levels. If a film is a low budget and looks great, they'll imagine how much better they could be with a higher budget.

You have to remember that all the film distributors go to the funded short film screenings. They want to see the up-and-coming filmmakers, to see what they've done with the money given them.

Film Distribution - You'd better know well what the distributor has done before meeting. Always do background checks.
-Check references
-See if your film matches their properties

TALKING TO A FILM DISTRIBUTOR
Getting IN - you need to have:
-Some sort of experience. Be a person they want to talk to.
-A proper budget.
-Script with a synopsis.

FILM DISTRIBUTORS HAVE CHOICES OVER CAST
They like to have name actors who are press-friendly, so the actors can promote the film for them.

Don't talk to any cast until you talk to a FILM DISTRIBUTOR - ESPECIALLY when you are prepping a feature film.

Most distributors will say that if you want to make a feature film, don't make a TRAILER of the movie. DUMB. Just show them past short films you've made.

When talking to the film distributor, talk about your film in conversation mode. Talk like two people who work together would talk at the watercooler about a movie they just saw. Tell the story the way people talk about movies - different ways of talking than your typical filmmaker uses.

LEAVE THE DISTRIBUTORS WITH IMAGES - Don't create them for them.

DON'T COMPARE YOUR FILM WITH ANOTHER FILM - People want originality.

JUST BE HONEST - Tell them the way you want to make the film.

DISHONESTY LEADS TO MISCOMMUNICATION IN THE FUTURE

FILM DISTRIBUTING - What you need to put in your EPK kit

First off, get a UNIT PUBLICIST
-They are a key person on set
-They do press releases.
-Bring MEDIA in. Then hold onto the media piece until the film is completed.

TAKE LOTS OF STILLS - Performers must take them in character and out of character - A MUST.

DO INTERVIEWS WITH KEY PERSONNEL
-Filmmaker's background
-This is primary for TV stations to pull clips

INDENTIFY KEY SCENES

Videographer on set has to be able to document the interesting stories of the film itself, and get those stories out there. They are their own filmmaker.

Tell the AGENTS of your cast/crew when the picture is screening.

Find that POSTER shot. Distributors WANT a great poster shot.

Film Distribution - If you have a short film and you're self-distributing, what you need to know.

First thing you need to do is register an INTERNET WEBSITE for your film.
-This is key. It lets people come to your site and it definitely creates a buzz.
-Even MySpace is a necessity these days. There are so many people on that site - it's an easy and cheap way to promote your film.

Then make business cards with the film and your website on it. And give out those business cards to everyone else who was a part of your film so they can pass them out to others.
CREATE THE BUZZ INSIDE OF YOUR CIRCLE AND MAKE IT GROW

Ask yourself, what do you want to get out of this film?
What do you want to accomplish?

Did you make this short film as a step towards making feature films?
If so, then you need to get your film screened in front of people who can help take your filmmaking career to the next level. This limits which FILM FESTIVALS you will submit to. Of course everyone has a budget, so really research each festival and spread your dollars as best as you can.

INDEPENDENT FILM DISTRIBUTION

WHATíS IN A SUBMISSION FORM?

DVD copy of your film, photos, press kit, electronic press kit.

FIRST OFF Ė Make sure everything in your application is labeled. Make things as easy as possible for the film festival. They are loaded with many films, and when things are labeled it makes it so much easier for them. Everything counts.

Include a COVER LETTER discussing your film and what shape itís in. Describe the status of your film. Was it just completed? Has it screened at other festivals?

PRESS KIT
-Include three synopses: the one-liner, the short synopsis (100-250 words), the long synopsis (500-1000 words).
-A 500-1000-word essay is great for talking about the PRODUCTION. Detail how the film got made. How long it took to shoot, how long ago you write the script, actors decisions, etc.
-BIOs of your key crew and cast.
-A list of all the CREDITS that appear in the film.
-Some press clips if you have some.
-Photos of the film, including one good photo that best represents the film.

THE ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT
This is the new wave, to make your film unique from others. Necessary for feature films. What you need to put in it:
-A legal disclaimer at the beginning of the tape.
-A title card of the film with the total running time and the menu of whatís on tape which should include:
-A trailer (if you want to do this, you need to grab an editor who solely does trailers).
-Selected key scenes of the film. Show the magic moments of the film so the press can see the best.
-Interviews with the cast, director, writer, etc.
-Still frame of the title of the film.

ELECTRONIC PRESS KITS are key when submitting to a major film festival.

FILM FESTIVALS AND MARKETS

You've finished your film, now it's time to submit it to festivals.

Navigate among the choices for your films and match the right venue to your project. If your film is a certain GENRE, research the festivals that showcase that genre.

NARROW YOUR TARGET LIST TO ABOUT 20 FESTIVALS
(Just make sure one of them is the WILDsound Film Festival!)

PLANNING THE FESTIVAL

Let's be honest. Some festival are just plan bad. They are disorganized and/or don't really understand the business side of running an event and getting maximum exposure. That's why you need to really take a look at the festivals you're submitting to.

Let's pretend that all festivals are great and you'll be able to promote yourself. Now you need to PLAN.

1. Publicity - Talk to people familiar with the festival and its surroundings. Try to arrange to be on forums and or do interviews with the local press to promote yourself and the festival.

2. Promotion Materials - Bring posters, postcards and any other promotion materials. I was at a festival last year and a filmmaker placed flyers underneath every person's hotel room door (at most festivals, the filmmakers are staying in the same hotel) listing the date, venue and time of their film's screening. And of course that film had a sell-out crowd. It's all about the simple things.

3. Practical Logistics - Making sure everything is organized for your stay.

4. Print - Make sure you bring a backup of your film.

5. Screenings - Make sure you have tickets for the cast/crew and friends who are there to support your film.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF FESTIVALS FOR A DISTRIBUTOR?

1. To scout and acquire new products
2. To announce details and joint ventures to the press and the industry
3. To premeire a film that they own
4. To enter into partnership and coproduction deals
5. To host parties to publicize a film
6. To announce an acquisition or the launch of a new company


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