As we roll out the final phase of releasing our film DISPLACEMENT, we have learned a lot about the changing landscape of independent film distribution.
Gone are the days of six-figure Minimum Guarantees (hell even low five-figure advances are hard to come by), large DVD rental title sales, and unless you win the lottery at Sundance with a seven-figure deal, or manage a decent broadcast TV sale (we were fortunate in this regard, not the former), it has become difficult in the current marketplace to earn your money back via a standard distribution model. It now appears incumbent upon us filmmakers to think outside the box when selling and distributing our films. And yes that means doing a lot of the work ourselves.
The main challenge we found was breaking through the noise. Even with a significant PR and social media campaign, articles in major industry trades like Variety and Indiewire, and some decent reviews, it is difficult to get eyeballs on your independent film, and even more challenging to get folks to click that ‘watch’ or ‘buy’ button.
The upside to this DIY approach is that you retain your rights, your revenue share, and control the way your film gets released into the world. The challenge is you do not have a distributor and their marketing muscle pushing it out there. That is up to you.
In our case, we ended up releasing DISPLACEMENT in a kind of backwards paradigm; on television first, mainly because we received an offer from A+E Networks at the beginning of our release window that we couldn’t refuse, then fought hard and won the right to do a limited theatrical release after their exclusive broadcast window closed, and put the film in theatres day-and-date with our VOD release, followed by DVD (both available now here). All of this was handled via our sales agent and through our own distribution banner, so we avoided the high cost of a distributor and their fees and expenses. We merely pay a modest commission to the sales agent, and the remaining revenue flows directly to us. As a result, we are now hatching plans to bring our content even more directly to our audience. More on that soon.
This is all similar, albeit on a smaller scale, to what Steven Soderbergh has done with his latest film LOGAN LUCKY. Check out the NY Times article on that here.
If you want to learn more about our distribution experience and how we might be able to help you navigate those shark infested waters, click here.