"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

You made a movie. Now what?

1. Making a good film isn’t enough.

Congrats! You made a good film. Sorry to say, that isn’t enough. “Of course, we want good films, but we are looking for a combination of elements that make it really stand out and give it a clear path to market. Having a film selected by a prestige festival gives a film an obvious path to market That’s part of the role of festivals, sales agents, marketing professionals and entertainment attorneys.” That said, sometimes films off the beaten track find their way to audiences. Just to say ‘it’s a good film’ is almost a meaningless description at this point. It’s totally subjective. If it's an advocacy documentary, is there a core audience or organizational value that will bring people out who will, in effect, vote their politics by buying a movie ticket? With a narrative film, there should be some approach to genre that makes it stand out stylistically. How is it unique?"

2. Determine your goals.

Before you set out to make your film, decide what your distribution goals are. “It’s really important to think about who you’re making the movie for and familiarize yourself with the marketplace. Do you care how your film is seen? On the big screen or at home? Socially or in isolation? Do you want a small, rabid group of people to see and love it or would you rather reach as many people as possible regardless of whether or not they appreciate it? Do you want to persuade a group of people to change their minds about an issue, or preach to your choir? Any and all of these are worthy goals in my view. It’s just important to decide upfront what’s important to you and then align your collaborators (and budget) accordingly. What are the goals and what do we want to accomplish? For most filmmakers, she said “the goals are to reach as wide an audience as possible, to pay back investors and to be in the position of making another film. When you're working with a distributor the goal is going to be money for the most part, but some want prestige or an awards campaign or visibility. When it comes to making those decisions, it's important that filmmakers have a holistic view and what are the sacrifices you're willing to make. If you want visibility, that may stand in the way of making money.

3. It’s never too early to start thinking about your distribution strategy.

Filmmakers should be considering festival and distribution strategy before they shoot. What kind of film are you making?

There are other steps filmmakers can take in pre-production that could benefit them when it’s time to seek distribution. “What can you do to enhance the marketability of your film? Maybe find someone with a social media following and put them in your film. During production, in addition to hiring a photographer to take set photos, you might consider additional original content that will help with marketing.

Research the market and develop a plan early in the process. Know what movies like yours have been doing in the market for the last five years and have a plan that you put in place before you start shooting. Distribution is work and time and planning and some money and it’s not going to be done for you. You don’t have a God-given right to make a movie and have it distributed, so be prepared for that not to happen and have a game plan.”

5. There is no “one size fits all” in distribution.

One film might benefit from a grassroots campaign with live events and another might do better going directly to VOD. Distribution is a strategy, not a formula.What works for a horror film is not necessarily going to work the same as a romantic comedy. Bbuild distribution campaigns that are specific to the film. Each film follows a unique path to distribution and it's up to the filmmaker to lead the way. Filmmakers have to understand that every film is different.The new equation is 50/50. 50 percent of your time, money and resources should go into making the film and 50% should go to connecting your film to an audience.

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