Some key points and suggestions on self-distribution

Recently invited contributions to a debate on self-distribution which they published unedited.

But for people in more of a hurry here’s what for me are the key points:

“I. Remove Barriers Preventing People From Seeing Your Film

Put up digital versions of your film online (streaming, downloadable, etc.) for a pay-what-you-like price, put it up on as many streaming sites as possible, and tell people to pay-what-they-like back at your site if they like it. Sell DVDs/Blu-Ray versions online at cost and give people the option to donate even more if they really like your film. I would rather have 1000 people see my film for free than have 2 people pay me $15 for a DVD. If 1000 people see your movie, then maybe a few will really like it and want to pay something for the experience; what they give you far surpasses selling fixed-cost versions.

II. Give People Freedom To Pass Your Film Along

Release your film under the Creative Commons license so that people can make copies and give them to others who might like it. Put something in the video that directs them back to your site where they can make a donation. The more people that see it, the more likely it is that someone really likes it and wants to support your artistic endeavors.

III. Ask Everyone To Help Spread The Word

I love independent films and would love to spread the word about your film along my network, my site, etc. My experience is that many of your friends, family, and co-workers feel the same way. The same goes for all of the filmmakers, critics, and bloggers that love independent film. You never know where a spark can come from and it can come at any time. A single blog post about one of my short films drove 30,000 viewers to it. To put this in perspective, if 30,000 people see your independent feature then more people have seen your film than 99.9% of all independent features ever made.”

Reid Gershbein.

Jon adds: At first glance giving your film away for free might sound pretty strange. But consider this: the ‘conventional’ distribution deal means giving your film to a distributor probably for no advance. The distributor manages to get it on in at best a tiny handful of cinemas with the aim of generating a few reviews. Doing this costs them much more than the film makes. You now ‘owe’ the distributor for these expenses/losses.  

“The current model of both the film industry and the most independents is “self” centred. Or in other words, MY job is to convince you to buy into MY film. The industry does this with posters, newspaper ads and schmoozing critics—independents do it with Facebook pages, websites, twitter and blogs. The bottom line though is it’s all just people shouting for attention to a world that hates being shouted at.

There is an answer. Mutual-marketing or tribal marketing. In simple terms we become individuals advocates, not just for our own movies, but for the movies the we discover that we believe are worth sharing. Not as some kind of tedious “you promote mine and I’ll promote yours” cartel of doom, I mean promote the whole of your scene with integrity and passion. The most powerful tool in ‘mutual-distribution’ is the phrase “Guys, this film is awesome…”

Clive Davies-Frayne


Tony Comstock raised some very important questions about how filmmakers can spend a lot of money applying to festivals and asks what the point is if the best you can get out of it is the offer of a distribution deal which won’t make you any money?  

It’s well worth reading  more of  what he has to say at:

“How Film Festivals and Distribution Deals Kill Independent Films Part 3, A Room Full of Strangers.” (Follow Tony on Twitter.)

“* Films benefit from ANY press and media attention. If I’m smart, I’ll skip sending news releases to Variety and Moviemaker—like several hundred other no-name directors—and engage local and community news reporters instead.

* Joint Ventures. Instead of trying to reach 5000 people who might buy my film, wouldn’t it be smarter to partner with one person who already has a reach of 5000 people? This way all I need to do is impress one person.”

Angelo Bell


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2 Responses to “Some key points and suggestions on self-distribution”

  1. Tony Comstock Says:

    Hello! Thanks for the link!

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