6 ways not to distribute your film

There are many avenues for film distribution but most of us go down the route of "hope and see" with first-time features and shorts. There comes a time in a filmmaker's career when they need to think beyond the standard trial and error approach that ends up not helping the film.

In fact, the distribution part of a production (no matter how low the budget) should be planned for before the first shot.

Here are a few of the common areas that lead to poor results:

1. Send cold email and then give up

Contacting distributors with a cold email and details of your film might work on some occasions, but most of the time these people are inundated with films they've never heard of, and will never bother to follow up.

A prior meeting in person or a phone call can increase the chance of a review at least.

2. Send your film randomly to distributors

Some people like to send their DVDs to distributors and hope for a reply. This is again unrealistic given that there is no human contact between you or them. That is essential.

3. Go to a distributor with the wrong genre

Different distributors have specific markets and outlets. Bringing a film that is not relevant to that demographic will just end up in the trash. Try to do some research on the titles before going to AFM or the Cannes market and talking to the wrong people.

4. Put it up online without any marketing plan

Putting a film online is what most of us do. For short films, after the festival run, yes, that makes sense, unless there is some TV deal in the works. Most of the time, for feature content or documentaries, putting stuff online doesn't get that much traction without marketing. Sure, friends and family will see it, but is that it? Isn't there a bigger audience for it?

VOD is a great way to distribute the film without cost or going through others, but with 0 marketing it's the same as putting it on the shelf or in your toaster.

5. Put the DVD on Amazon and hope for the best

There's nothing wrong with putting DVDs, films and whatever else on Amazon for sale, but without a plan of action, again, what is the point? There are millions of items on Amazon. (Did you see the Frank Sinatra painting for $600,000?

Amazon don't go out of their way to promote titles. Every product needs to have a fan base built around it, no matter how ridiculous it is, to give it any chance..again that comes with marketing.

6. Give out free copies at some non-related event

This does actually happen. People like to give out their films for free at festivals or random events. Sure, it's a nice gift but where's the money? Where's the real distribution? The sad part of this is, the people who get those free films, might not even bother to watch them because they don't care enough about it. Given that we are surrounded by content 24/7, attention spans have plummeted.

Well that's just a short overview of what not to do. Check out the film tutorial section for more in-depth guides on the film industry. Thanks for reading!

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