As TechWench continues its series on Budget Filmmaking the discussion must inevitably swing towards how to distribute your film once it has been made, once you’ve got it on a freshly burned DVD where do you go? Who do you show it to? Read on as we discuss distribution of your film.
There are a number of ways to distribute your film, more so with the advent of the internet and digital media. The traditional ways of limited showings at a number of cinemas or entering your film into a film festival such as Cannes or Sundance are still extremely effective ways of distributing your film but they still carry the high prices that they have always carried. Festivals will charge a certain amount for entrance and it would be best to decide before you begin filming if you are aiming for the festival circuit as each one has their own stipulations as to what will be accepted or rejected. A run of showings in cinemas can reach a good audience but only with an associated marketing campaign does this become effective, there are also fewer independent cinemas willing to accept independent films, however there are a greater number of film clubs who are certainly worth contacting and joining as they can act as a vital card in your networking deck, it also helps to have a critical eye on any films you produce and, with film club members, these eyes are likely to be discerning.
The internet has taken more than a few filmmaker’s careers from filming in their parents neighbourhood to filming in a Hollywood neighbourhood. Posting your film in the right places online and promoting it can make the right peoples ears prick up and then they are taking notice of you and your film. It is not merely a matter of posting it on Youtube and letting the internet take it from there, you must post it in multiple places, Vimeo especially which is the professional video sharing website, populated by editors, compositors, filmmakers and industry professionals. Share your film around as many filmmaking forums as you can find and get involved with any discussion which follows, Tweet your film, Facebook your film, get as many views as you can. This will increase the chances of it getting sent on to someone who can take your career to the next step. Bear in mind that you most likely won’t skyrocket to director stardom but it can get you a job in the industry and from there you have begun your career. That’s when networking really kicks in.
A lot of the success of your online distribution campaign can depend on the smallest of factors; no one has a definitive formula for creating a viral product, if your film receives a large amount of positive feedback and people begin sharing it again and again then your campaign was a success. Making your film approachable and personal will certainly help in this, do not be ashamed to put in a “Please share if you liked this” plea as most wont without it and those who see it and don’t share it on are still a view or a rating. If you receive mixed views then that also not a bad sign, it’s more likely to generate discussion over your film though it also means your film is less likely to be shared on as less people enjoyed it enough, share your film more to compensate for this and get involved with the discussion over the film. Give away too much or defending your position poorly can spiral against you so be sure to be conservative in your responses to the denizens of the internet world. Should your film receive overwhelmingly poor feedback well then what does that say about your film? You sent it direct to the audiences’ homes and they didn’t like it. Pick the lessons out of the pieces you have left and start again or go work in a shop selling sofas.
All in all the traditional methods are more tried and true methods of getting your film to the right people’s eyes but come with a limiting price factor, you just spent the budget on making the film and now you have to pay to get it out there again. Having your final version of the film can be a powerful marketing tool in itself, send the DVD’s around to film magazines, bloggers, people! It may cost you a small amount but this is nothing compared to a cinema run and think about it, do you really want your first films to be the ones you are remembered for at first? Use them to get yourself a job in the industry and then revisit the stories once you are running your own sets. Use your first films to flex your wings and hone your filmmaking tools and get employed, this will do more for your distribution than you may think. Be sure to return next time when TechWench continues our series on Budget Filmmaking