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Self Distribution

October 29, 2007

It’s been quite a while since my last post and I apologize, things have gotten quite busy around here from school and work to doing my best to keep up with some smaller-scale films coming out in the video store I work at now (I will briefly recommend The Insatiable, Still Life, The Postcard Bandit, Stephanie Daley and The Big Bad Swim as good ones to start with).  I was told for my English independent study to find some articles on the school library’s site related to film and read and react to them.  However, since I wasn’t allowed access to the articles themselves for some reason, I turned to the next best thing – Microfilmmaker Magazine’s articles.  These are usually great articles filled with useful tips from people who typically use a budget of next-to-nothing for their films, and the write of this article just happens to have been on the crew for Still Life, a low-budget indie film I watched just the other night.

This article caught my eye a long time ago and has been taking up browser tab space for a while, as do lots of things I catch interest in and save for later.  This morning I sat down and read through it, though, and am very glad I did.  I’ve been trying to get into the film festival circuit with my short feature LATENT(CY).  It’s for rent at the local video store now, but I wanted an even wider audience.  I’ve sent it in to a festival and have been looking into even more, and if you know about Withoutabox then you’ll know it’s pretty easy to find festivals that will accept your project.  This article addresses not only the often misguided optimism of low-budget filmmakers when they enter festivals but the solution to such a problem: self-distribution.  There was one recommendation that was to order in bulk copies of your own film, authored with labels and cover art and packaged nicely and the whole thing being very professional, in order to sell yourself through a website or booth or whatever.  That’s handy, but it’s expensive, and right now, I can’t do expensive.  The next suggestion was to find a website like IndieFlix or CustomFlix that will help sell your DVDs at little cost to you, and both of you gets cuts of the revenue from the product.  These sound like much more solid options, since I’m not losing any money I currently have, I’m only gaining, and my films can be listen on Amazon.com.  The only catch here is promotion and advertising.  Of course, when you’re on a nothing-budget, you don’t have an advertising or marketing department and you don’t have any sales reps laying around wanting work.  However, you do have the internet, word of mouth and film festivals.  Festivals get a wide audience; being listed on Amazon and big distributors like that give that audience easy access to your film; and finally, being partnered with a company like IndieFlix or CustomFlix (though not contractually – you’re completely free to pursue other distribution deals) provides easy actual distribution of your film to your wide audience acquired through festivals.  It’s a great start-up guide for self-distribution, and even for those who’ve been having trouble getting their projects out there for a while, I’d recommend reading it.

It made me think a bit about the “new” technology of the internet and the ease of getting a name and a work out in the world for people to see.  Everything’s just so easily accessible now that it seems we’re over-cluttering the net and sites like YouTube with stuff that’s really not important.  Chick fights and nasty sports crashes get old real fast, and yet they’re probably the most widely watched videos online.  I was thinking about the ease of distribution and how simple it seems now, especially after finding these sites and ones like OurStage, to get a film out to the public.  The clutter of video on the web now prevents us from being able to sell our films, from effectively using the technology we have at our disposal for any and every use possible.

All in all, this was a very useful and interesting article about a guy who’s been around the loop for a while and found some ways to get around the problems often faced with trying to get a name out in the world.  He’s got a nice sense of humor and even though he points himself out as cynical or a “Simon Cowell of the group,” he has a very valid point.  You can’t depend on film festivals to get your name out, and you really can’t depend on those like Cannes or Sundance who once hosted Indie flicks and now invite Hollywood and huge-budget films to show at their venues to get your name out there either.  Optimism isn’t bad, is his point, it’s the placement and use of it that can be the downfall of an indie filmmaker.  Get out there and do your homework, make your product sell, and use the resources available, but be careful and active about it.  Best of luck.

Link: http://www.microfilmmaker.com/tipstrick/Issue18/selfdist.html

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One comment

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