Indie Birds – How To Get Your Independent Film Distributed
First off, congrats to you on finishing your film. Hopefully you followed the advice I gave to aspiring filmmakers and now have a film that looks and sounds great, has a great three act story and has all the rights cleared for distribution. So what do you do now? There are a number of options – what you do depends on you.
Option A : You are independently wealthy, have an incredible amount of free time and are able to treat the search for a distribution deal as a full time job. Good for you! Thanks to the miracle that is the internet, it's becoming much easier for Indie producers to find audiences and historically buyers for their products.
1. Register your film with IMDB. If you have a poster, pay to put it up. If not, do not worry, you can use one of those excellent production stills that you took during the shoot.
2. Complete the Withoutabox paperwork. This will allow you to easily enter your film into almost any festival you want. Most will require an entry fee, though once you get accepted to a few, this will often be waived. Film festivals are wonderful for several reasons:
A. Nothing beats putting your film in front of an audience. That's the reason we make films – for others to watch them!
B. They are cost effective ways of generating some press and getting your film reviewed. The major festivals are covered by the big boys (Variety, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter); but even minor fests should get coverage from the local press. This should help get your film noticed by distribs and give you more ammo when applying to future fests and / or pitching your film to potential buyers.
C. They allow distribs to see your finished product on the big screen without the cost of a theatrical release.
3. Create a website for your film. This does not have to be a state of the art, java-scripted masterpiece. A Myspace page will suffice just fine. The purpose of the site is to host your trailer or clips, your press images, ever your critical acclaim, and to give people interested in your film an easy way to contact you.
4. Get a copy of Variety's annual issue listing all US violations and start contacting them. Most have a standard procedure for accepting submissions and they'll be happy to tell you what to do. After all, without films, the distribs are out of business!
Option B: You are excited that you finished your film before your landlord kicked you out for back rent and now are back in the "real world" replenishing your bank account. Do not worry, your film does not have to collect dust in the basement while you refill the war chest. Many of the steps described above can be underaken on a part time basis. However, in order to get the most out of your film, you're going to want to hire a sales agent. Some charge an upfront fee to represent your film, but many will take it on spec – taking only a percentage of the MG when your film is sold. For that cost, you should get someone working hard on getting your film in front of decision makers at fests and distribution companies.