No matter how well you make a movie, if you can't release it, how will you make your money back? It's been like that since the days of Charlie Chaplin. Most major studios have their own distribution already set up. Before a film goes up on the silver screen, it must have the union label and proper certification. There are channels, procedures and output deals. If you're making movies straight to video, your budget is limited and you probably can't afford big name actors. Without a theatrical release, your home video release will be limited. You may have trouble releasing your movie or finding buyers. If you're an independent filmmaker, you're at a major disadvantage. Why put yourself in this position when you're risking your own money? Start thinking about your distribution before you roll cameras. E-Mail me about distribution methods. I can help you find the buyers. These buyers may be major studios, mini-majors, independent distributors, home video and DVD acquisition executives, TV and cable networks or foreign territorial buyers.
Finding a distributor who'll give you a fair break is difficult. There is no end to horror stories that film makers, directors and producers will tell you about distributors that took everything and gave the filmmakers nothing.
I can write a book on distribution con games. In fact, the only book I read on distribution, its author treats the whole subject on the basis of what a producer has to do not to be cheated.
Consider yourself lucky if you get even 30% of what the contract says you're getting. Rather than telling you about the thousand ways a distributor can cheat a film maker or producer, Iíll cut to the chase instead: distributors have to cheat producers in order to survive!
Now youíre saying, "Heís lost it altogether!" But, wait, let me go on. I went to a film market once, and I had an old movie of my own that I was trying to test the waters with. It was my first attempt at distribution. I was frustrated by the slow returns on my previous movie, which was handled by a middle-sized distribution company.
I also took a couple of other projects along, from producers who were not lucky in finding a distributor. (You can imagine how much luck I was going to have!)
And to make matters worse, one of these projects was in script stage and the other one was not answer printed yet (I did have a video of the rough-cut though.)
I took my place in the market and started negotiating with buyers.
Buyers come from 150 international territories to these markets.
I was so anxious to sell something, in order to cover my market costs, that I found myself at one point offering my own finished film as a freebee just to pre-sell the other two movies!
It was very ironic, as I suddenly stopped myself short -- even the buyer was stunned -- what was I doing? Give my own film away for free, just to get a deposit on the production of another producerís script? What was I supposed to do with the deposit I was getting for the new movie, give it to the producer and wait for him to make a movie, deliver it to me for distribution and then collect my distribution fee?
Meanwhile I was to give my own film that I had toiled on for over a year, to this distributor for nothing? I, the distributor, was gonna cheat myself, the film maker! Why, it had to be that way! How else was I going to succeed as a distributor and pay my market participation fees? Film is just a commodity, it doesnít matter whose film youíre selling, your own or somebody elseís, right? It doesn't get any nuttier than that.
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