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Insiders ViewPoints Getting Distribution: Secrets & Lies Film News And Views - Insiders ViewPoints - Getting Distribution: Secrets & Lies Insiders ViewPoints,,Getting Distribution: Secrets & Lies,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
Getting Distribution: Secrets & Lies

by Jerome Courshon on Jul 15, 2009

One of the major Achilles’ heels for producers and directors is the distribution game. Once you’ve made your movie, what do you do? How do you play the game? What strategies do you employ? Is there even a strategy??

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is there are indeed strategies to use and employ. The bad news is that most filmmakers don’t know what they are and flounder around trying to figure them out. I know. I was there myself.


It took me several years to find distribution for my movie, “God, Sex & Apple Pie.” I floundered, I struggled, I learned. Eventually I did get distribution through Warner Bros., but what I learned was how to do it, and I’ve been assisting other filmmakers in successfully getting distribution for their movies. (No, I’m not a producer’s rep. I have no interest in taking a piece of your movie.)


In this article, I’m going to share a few secrets and debunk some prevalent lies (which we’ll call “myths”) about getting distribution. Hopefully this will give you some insight into the game, should you be looking for distribution now or soon embarking on this challenging journey.


Myth #1: I’m a director, a filmmaker, a creative person. Telling stories is my thing and if I make a good movie, I don’t have to worry about the business stuff or the marketing because someone else will do that.


Secret #1: This is not so much a secret as a reality check. There are of course some people who get lucky and either have a producing partner who does all the business & marketing and is good at it, or they have the money to hire the right people to do everything.


However for most this isn’t the case, especially if one’s movie career is in the early stages. You really need to become a businessman or businesswoman once your feature film is done. At least until it’s sold. The more you can become a “salesperson” and marketing maven, the more success you will have on your quest for distribution. Yes, I know this part isn’t nearly as sexy and fun as making movies and can be downright boring at times. But as Orson Welles famously said about the film business: “It's about 2% moviemaking and 98% hustling.”


Myth #2: Distributors are calling me and they’re excited to see my movie! I’ll send it to them and if they like it, they’ll acquire it!

Secret #2: All major distributors track the movies that have been listed in the trades under their production columns. If you were in those columns, you’re going to be phoned. Do not send them a rough cut. Do not send them a final cut. Do not send them the movie. If you do, you will not get a theatrical distribution deal, if this is what you are going for.

You must “unveil” your movie in the right place at the right time, such as a top film festival, to get the buyers to really want your feature. Movies do not get picked up for theatrical releases that have been sent on a DVD to a distributor. So when they call, you’ll say “It’s not ready, but I appreciate your call. Check back with me in a month or two.” Repeatedly.


Myth #3:
My movie was selected for the Sundance Film Festival (or the Toronto Film Festival or the Cannes Film Festival). Woohooo! All I have to do is show up and I will get a deal!


Secret #3: Okay, you won the lottery and got a slot at one of these three coveted festivals for your movie premiere. Guess what? Your work hasn’t even begun yet. You now must assemble a team of people—a PR firm, an agent from one of the top agencies in Los Angeles, an attorney, and possibly a producer’s rep. (But beware…most producer’s reps are useless.)


You will have to work, strategize and position your movie—before it premieres—as a very desirable movie that distributors must have. You have one shot at the top festivals for a theatrical deal, so don’t piss it away. Unfortunately, most filmmakers don’t know or understand this. Their movie plays at Sundance or Toronto, they come away without a deal and then find themselves entirely lost as to what to do next.


Myth #4: I was rejected by the top festivals, so now I’m submitting and getting accepted by the next tier of festivals. This is cool. All I have to do is show up to my screenings and I’m treated like a rock star!


Secret #4: Yeah, okay, if this is you, at least you’re having fun. But you’re not going to get distribution this way. There is a real purpose to the festival circuit beyond the top festivals. The obvious purpose is, of course, exposure. But there is actually a MORE important purpose:  Building a Pedigree.


What is a pedigree? This is a body of consensus that you must methodically build—press coverage, positive quotes from critics, awards if you can get them—that says you have a hell of a winning movie on your hands. Once you have built this pedigree, you are then ready to parlay this into a distribution deal. There’s quite a bit of psychology involved in selling your movie. Master it, and you will.


Myth #5: I’ve submitted my movie to the 15 home video companies out there. I’ve talked to my producer friends and looked at industry reference books. I’ve even perused the video stores shelves to see who all the home video companies are. If they all say ‘No,’ I’m out of luck for a home video deal.


Secret #5:
This “secret” right here may be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to you. I didn’t know this when I was going through my journey, and most people just don’t. There are literally over 100 home video companies in the marketplace, all operating under their own labels. On top of that are additional companies that pick up movies and programming that have output deals with these distributors. So if you think you’ve exhausted your search for a home video deal and you’ve only contacted 15 or even 25 companies, you’ve only just begun.


Myth #6: I’m going to bypass traditional distribution altogether, sell my movie on the internet myself and make a ton of money from DVD sales and digital downloads.


Secret #6: Unlikely. For every 4000 movies being made every year, there are less than 10 who make serious money this way. Why? It’s hard work, it takes specific strategies, and you essentially have to become the distributor for a good year, if not longer.


However, some who go this route do it very successfully. They’re either great at marketing, or good learners. And they’re very committed to achieving success, so they really do what it takes to win. Additionally, the budget of your movie can dictate to some extent if this route is viable for you. If you’ve made a $10,000 movie, it’s not that difficult to recoup this amount, with some diligent work. But if your budget was $1 Million, good luck making your money back using only the internet. You’ll either need traditional distribution, or a hybrid approach of both traditional and non-traditional.


So these are a few of the popular and misleading myths out there, as well as the truth about them. With over 4000 movies being made every single year, that’s a lot of producers and directors working with often erroneous information. Not to mention an overwhelming number of movies vying for limited distribution slots. These two factors combined can make for a daunting journey filled with frustration and failure.


The silver lining to all this? There are 8 basic paths (or distribution models) a movie can take to get into the distribution stream, and if you know what to do and employ the right strategies, you can achieve real distribution. You do not need name stars in your movie to get a deal and your movie does not have to be phenomenal. If your movie is at least decent—if not good—you do have a real shot.

Jerome Courshon is an award-winning Producer/Writer, whose critically acclaimed first movie “God, Sex & Apple Pie” was released by Warner Bros. His challenging journey to achieve meaningful distribution led to his creating a groundbreaking seminar in 2006, “THE SECRETS TO DISTRIBUTION: Get Your Movie Distributed Now!”

 Since then, Jerome has assisted hundreds of filmmakers with securing real distribution through his seminars, speaking engagements, and consultations. He has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, interviewed on iFilm.com (now Spike.com) and Film Threat, and has written articles on film distribution for MovieMaker Magazine, Indie Slate Magazine, and Film Festival Today among others.

For more information on Jerome’s seminar, visit:

http://www.Distribution.LA” Secrets To Movie Distribution

  July 16, 2019

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