Making a movie is not as difficult as getting it distributed. Many producers and movie makers struggle to sell their film once it is done. This is a very common scenario especially in Europe where there is a much larger independent movie making trend compared to the US. Why is it then so difficult to get a distribution deal? It’s mostly because of doing things in the wrong order but to really understand the answer to this question, we should first consider a number of other factors that led to this such as:
Why make a movie without a distribution deal? It usually starts with a good movie idea that someone believes in. Most creative people are eager to expand their creative inspiration and not knowing how to build on that idea, they start writing a screenplay. Once the screenplay is ready, not knowing how to promote it, it would make sense to find a couple of believers in the industry that would work on it with the hope of earning a percentage once the movie becomes a huge success. While managing to raise the absolute necessary amount, production starts and god willing, you end up having a movie in your hands.
The problem with this common scenario is that movie makers who really love what they do, are willing to take high risks, work hard and see their vision come to life either on 35mm film or digital. So in many ways their goal is achieved, they have made their movie. Now if their goal changes to making this movie profitable, that’s something they should have considered on the very first step, when they had an idea for a movie. It is something they should have even considered after they wrote the script and definitely before starting a production.
Starting a production without having a distribution deal is like shooting yourself in the foot and it is definitely a very high risk option that should be avoided at all costs. The truth is that no industry investor would even consider financing a movie that does not have a solid distribution plan. There are a lot of types of investors though and a lot of creative movie makers that manage to get their way even with little or no money due to their persistance and persuasion.
“We will have more leverage to get a better distribution deal once they can see how great our movie is…” this is one of the most common excuses to persuade unaware investors into making an even higher risk choice (film investment is already high risk as is).
So you had an idea for “pistachio bread”, wouldn’t you ask the local supermarket if they are willing to have it on their shelves and their requirements before you start producing it? Well because many people love “baking” they don’t even consider that.
If you did make your movie one way or another and need to get a distribution deal our advise is back to basics. You will eventually have to complete the first and most crucial step of selling the idea to one of the distribution networks. The good thing is that your idea will not be stolen since you already made the movie. The bad thing is that many networks are very skeptical about distributing movies that are not produced by a mainstream production house or studio.
We stress this repeatedly in our articles and it does stand true for films that are ready to air, and that is, you need to start with a good pitch that is a log line. Just like executives are not willing to read your script unless they know what it is about, they will not watch your movie unless they are intrigued by your synopsis. For this reason, we recommend as a first step of securing a distribution deal, the Start Pitching Package.
Once you submit your project, we will be able to promote it to the right networks and distribution channels on your behalf and secure a distribution deal for you. Geting a good distribution deal is not just about the percentage that the distributor will get on each sale, but there are about a hundred other things that you need to be aware of.
For example, if the distributor demands 35% of income, it is considered to be a good deal (since distribution percentages might be much higher). The truth is that there are a number of tricks that distribution deals include that can affect your income greatly.
Smart Accounting Yes, this is not only done by production companies but distributors as well. Don’t forget, they know the figures, they are the ones doing the sales and they are the ones collecting the money. How expenses are defined in your distribution deal is crucial in calculating the value of that 35% cost.
Package Deals One of the most common tricks are package deals. Distributors rarely sell their movies individually to retail stores. They usually sell them as packages containing a high demand movie with a medium demand move and a low demand movie. This helps them promote the medium and low demand movies and have them on the shelf when the retailers would not normally buy them. Now if your movie is a high demand movie and it would have sold 500k at a price x, if it is paired with two low demand movies, your actual sales might drop to 100k at two thirds of price x. Alternatively, if your movie is considered a low demand movie, you would want it packaged with a high demand movie and that you get a high percentage of the package price.
Part of our service is verifying that you get the best deal possible and we will advise you on the fine-print of the distribution deal so that you can make an informed decision whether you want to accept it or not.