Looking for a film distribution deal? Look to yourself.
I just read a reviewers comments about a local film festival in my area. They particularly liked one of the films and suggested that it “deserved a distribution deal”. But it is becoming increasingly hard for a film to find distribution, whether it’s broadcast, theatrical, or even home distribution. Only 18 films at the 2008 Sundance festival found distribution deals.
But now distribution gurus are suggesting filmmakers do it themselves.
My film was picked up for broadcast distribution by PBS’ American Masters, and they wanted the privilege of premiering the film on television. The broadcast disqualified my film from many festivals, where distribution deals are made, because many festivals won’t include films that are already broadcast.
But my film had broad interest from fans of the film and fans of Zora Neale Hurston, so I was able to find an educational distributor to sell the film to schools and libraries (California Newsreel). I then decided to self-distribute the film to the home market, and undertook the expenses to create the master and DVD copies. I sell it on Amazon, and I book community screenings where I sell the DVDs. While I might not have the potential to reach as broad an audience as a major distributor would, I’m able to keep a much greater percentage of sales than a distributor would allow.
So if your film does not get picked up for distribution, don’t despair. Be creative and find a niche market. Use your viral marketing skills to let people know about the film (Facebook and Twitter, for starters). And good luck!