DIY INDEPENDENT FILM: An Introduction to Self-Distribution

So you want to make a movie? Most people think is a difficult process to do, and yes it is, but you can do it yourself now! Independent films are a way to make a name for yourself in the film world nowadays. Many think it takes a lot of money to get your project up and going and out there for everyone to see, but with these simple steps you can now get your name up on the marquee!

indie-film-distribution.jpgFirst, let’s talk about several ways to get distribution for a film, especially if it is your own. The Raindance Film Festival website discusses the 7 deadly sins of Self distribution. We need to look at what not to do before we go into good ways to go about self-distribution. Raindance Film brings up many good points with all their “sins.” If you want to be successful, you need to do what it takes, you cannot be greedy, or lazy, or pursue film because you want to be famous. The best self-distributed films are ones that people put a lot of time into, are focused on a goal, and want to put it out into the world for the greater good.

Second, self-distribution is hard. Alison Willmore, of Indiewire , sheds light on how to actually go about the self-distribution process. One of the first things Willmore brings up is you need to start budgeting for distribution at the same time you are budgeting for the film itself. Also, filmmakers need to think of themselves as a brand to be successful.

An article in The Wrap, The Road to Distributing Your Film Is Not as Hard as You Think!, talks about how you can distribute your film and be successful. The Wrap says there are three main principles key to success: get the film to each major market, split your rights, and utilize online resources.

Raindance also had another article on self-distribution for filmmakers, the first step is called “Bottle Shock” (which is actually the title of a movie), that made a huge difference in the independent movie world. Bottle Shock’s director went to twelve cities and distributed his film, because no major companies wanted his film.

The next few steps from Raindance go deeper into how to navigate the digital divide, and hybrid distribution. In a section called “Singing the Indie Blues,” they mention how some indie films looked to the past to make a future, by looking to “digital projection, colleges, blues bars, underserved movie houses and the Internet.”

Following these the next few sections are about films that have made it in the independent world. The Four-Eyed Monster is a great short film, that according to Raindance, everyone needs to see. They made a huge impact in self-distribution with this film and have excelled the process of self-distribution.

The last topic is probably the most important. You MUST beware of a so-called 5-year contract. “Amazingly, this ‘deal’ from so-called ‘acquisition executives’ offers little or no money up front, and generally handcuffs the film to the website even to the point of not allowing festival screenings or being attached to compilation DVD’s. I can’t think of a worse position to place yourself in, especially since promised revenue streams are always net of the website’s distribution expenses.”

Self-distribution may seem not like a practical goal to some, and others it is the best thing since sliced bread. Self-distribution can put you on the map in the film world. It is all about how you go about it and if you are motivated enough.

I have a few questions to you the readers. Do think self-distribution of independent films will knock out the major companies wanting to make these films successful? Also, since these are just the beginning steps of self-distribution, do you think the films that do self distribute have a chance in the running for major company distribution?

Sammy Kaster

One thought on “DIY INDEPENDENT FILM: An Introduction to Self-Distribution

  1. I don’t think independent movies will take over the major studio system but I do think it will start taking more of a chunk of the market. I think this because with technology getting cheaper and with everyone having a camera and access to editing software that is easy to use more people will be producing their own movies which will have an effect on the market.
    I also think yes to films being self distributed getting picked up by the major studios. This is already happening in the music industry were the major label is signing just distribution deals with independent artist so I see no reason why this wouldn’t start happening or start happening more in the movie industry!

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