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Why so pessimist about distribution?

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
There are plenty of professional, well made, and even good movies that either never get distribution or aren't seen by a lot of people.

So true. If one getting distribution were as easy as filmmaker128
(remember him? He has left the discussion) thinks "I believe if you
have a good film, sooner or later It will be discovered and you will
get a fair distribution deal." I have sat in screenings at festivals of
terrific, professional, well made, well told movies with excellent
actors (even "names") and been moved or scared or laughed 'till I
couldn't breathe and even received standing ovations and then
never seen the film anywhere. No distribution at all.

Yes, most of the time the movie that does not get distribution lacks
a level of professionalism. But very, very good films also do not
find distribution other then the "self" kind.
 
Distribution to where????? I think there's 1 Blockbuster left in the Western Los Angeles area. There's Best Buy but they only carry "the hits". You're looking at Internet distribution, which you don't need a traditional brick and mortar distributor for. Anyone can get Internet distribution through Amazon Advantage. Then there's http://www.getmopix.com/ for everything else.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
i think when people say distribution they are referring also to the marketing aspect. like another entity is going to come on board and help market their film in exchange for the profits.
 
like another entity is going to come on board and help market their film in exchange for the profits.
Yeah, I think that's the common "understanding" of what "real" distribution means.

And I think those deals are maybe just a very small percent of the content market. Like maybe less than 5%, probably easily less than 2-3%.

I imagine the overwhelming majority of film content director/producers that have "distribution" are really talking about basically hosting sites that the director/producer is still entirely responsible for driving traffic to. :hmm:

As opposed to genuine distributors that say "No. Don't worry about it. We'll pick up the P&A tab for this one if you'll just agree to have (or coerce) your principals do the dog & pony promotion circuit."
 
i think when people say distribution they are referring also to the marketing aspect. like another entity is going to come on board and help market their film in exchange for the profits.

I am erring on the optimistic side at the moment but then again I don't know much! As an idea, I am trying my first 'gamble' at the moment meaning I will sink a small amount of my own money into something and see if I can make money out of it. I believe this is the litmus test of film making - will someone spend money on whatever I shoot?

From my research, I understand there are potentially more opportunities to make money from content than 10 years ago, not less. There are more distribution channels, more opportunities for self-distribution and more content providers looking to pay for content, all of which makes me think there is money to be made.

When I looked at the music industry I discovered the evidence is overwhelmingly that more musicians, not less, were making money from distributing music (comparing current and pre-digital distribution channels) and I think the indepedent film maker can go the same route. With a decent idea, good marketing, PR, a huge amount of legwork and a good product, I think there is money to be made for an independent.

For example, what would happen for an independent film maker if they made one film per year and $100,000 USD profit per year on the film they shot? Those kind of numbers would be deeply uninteresting for a major but that would be decent for an independent director trying to make a buck. I think it's achievable which means it would be possible to make a living out of film making which is potentially good.
 

sonnyboo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
For example, what would happen for an independent film maker if they made one film per year and $100,000 USD profit per year on the film they shot? Those kind of numbers would be deeply uninteresting for a major but that would be decent for an independent director trying to make a buck. I think it's achievable which means it would be possible to make a living out of film making which is potentially good.

What is your business plan? Breakdown some numbers for me. How do you make $100,000 profit?

I'm not saying that sarcastically, I'm wondering if your optimism has any business acumen to back it up.
 
From my research, I understand there are potentially more opportunities to make money from content than 10 years ago, not less. There are more distribution channels, more opportunities for self-distribution and more content providers looking to pay for content, all of which makes me think there is money to be made.

There ARE more avenues and opportunities to make money from content than any time in history.

The good news is there is also more money being spent on content now than every before.

The problem is, what do you do when the studios are taking a massive chunk of that money, releasing less and less content.

It leaves less for the independents. Now for the bad news. There are more independents now than ever before all fighting for an ever decreasing shrinking slice of the pie.

For example, what would happen for an independent film maker if they made one film per year and $100,000 USD profit per year on the film they shot? Those kind of numbers would be deeply uninteresting for a major but that would be decent for an independent director trying to make a buck. I think it's achievable which means it would be possible to make a living out of film making which is potentially good.

Finding a way to sell a movie for $100k is tough without marketable attachments or without wins at a major festival.

What is your business plan? Breakdown some numbers for me. How do you make $100,000 profit?

On a side topic, does anyone know of where to get my grubby little hands on some sample Feature Film Business plans? I'm trying to work on that side now, but finding information available rather lacking.
 

sonnyboo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
From my research, I understand there are potentially more opportunities to make money from content than 10 years ago, not less. There are more distribution channels, more opportunities for self-distribution and more content providers looking to pay for content, all of which makes me think there is money to be made.

I'd like to see the fruits of that research. All evidence is to the contrary. Unless we argue the semantics that there are more "opportunities", but each one makes a lot less money.

In the 1980's-1990's movies would make money
a. at box office
b. high end pay-per-view (hotels/airlines, etc.)
c. rental
d. retail
e. cable TV
f. regular broadcast TV

with each one of those raking in millions of dollars. It was nearly impossible for a film to lose money because they could do that for each worldwide market as well. Even if it was a DTV (Direct to Video) title and skipped A-B, they could still make a lot of money with C-F.

Each on of those steps has taken in a lot less profit except for the few mega-hits and almost the entire DTV business model barely exists today, as opposed to a $100 million dollar a year industry that it was over 10 years ago.

I'd be very interested in seeing your research that there are more opportunities to make money with film today than ever before because logic and facts don't seem to go with that theory.

pornography :yes:

Even THAT industry has taken a beating for profits thanks to the internet and bootlegging and the availability of FREE porn.
 
I'd like to see the fruits of that research. All evidence is to the contrary. Unless we argue the semantics that there are more "opportunities", but each one makes a lot less money.

In the 1980's-1990's movies would make money
a. at box office
b. high end pay-per-view (hotels/airlines, etc.)
c. rental
d. retail
e. cable TV
f. regular broadcast TV

with each one of those raking in millions of dollars. It was nearly impossible for a film to lose money because they could do that for each worldwide market as well. Even if it was a DTV (Direct to Video) title and skipped A-B, they could still make a lot of money with C-F.

Each on of those steps has taken in a lot less profit except for the few mega-hits and almost the entire DTV business model barely exists today, as opposed to a $100 million dollar a year industry that it was over 10 years ago.

I'd be very interested in seeing your research that there are more opportunities to make money with film today than ever before because logic and facts don't seem to go with that theory.



Even THAT industry has taken a beating for profits thanks to the internet and bootlegging and the availability of FREE porn.

It's a fair point and I think the best way to test this theory of mine is to put my money where my mouth is. Nothing like cold, hard currency from my own pocket to focus the mind.

So I will shoot a project I have and try what I believe could be an interesting distribution model. At this stage, the marketing and PR plan is being refined as well as the various trailers. It may seem bizarre to put the marketing plan in place before the product but I think this is a critical element.

I am hopefully not a complete lunatic in that I have some expertise behind me. My dad was involved in both the money side of the business as well as distribution and worked for Harvey Goldsmith for many years. If you Wiki Harvey you will see he promoted a load of musicans (U2, Madonna, Bruce Springstein, Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Sting etc...) What the Wiki page doesn't say is that Harvey also put money and distribution expertise behind a number of movies and 'other' productions including The Lawmower Man, one of the Ninja Turtle Movies, Dr Jekkyl & Mr Hyde etc... Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to go to the concerts or movies as a kid but ended up with all the T-shirts. My favourite was the Dr Jekkyl and Mr Hyde one but I digress.

It is now becoming a little scary (a fool and their money etc...) but my research at this stage indicates there is a possibility I might recovercosts and if I am lucky, generate some upside (decent upside if I am extremely lucky). I also have someone who has given me insight into a few pitfalls as well as what can work which is useful. But I might be wrong. So I'm going to test it with my own money and see.
 
I'd like to see the fruits of that research. All evidence is to the contrary. Unless we argue the semantics that there are more "opportunities", but each one makes a lot less money.

In the 1980's-1990's movies would make money
a. at box office
b. high end pay-per-view (hotels/airlines, etc.)
c. rental
d. retail
e. cable TV
f. regular broadcast TV

with each one of those raking in millions of dollars. It was nearly impossible for a film to lose money because they could do that for each worldwide market as well. Even if it was a DTV (Direct to Video) title and skipped A-B, they could still make a lot of money with C-F.

Each on of those steps has taken in a lot less profit except for the few mega-hits and almost the entire DTV business model barely exists today, as opposed to a $100 million dollar a year industry that it was over 10 years ago.

I'd be very interested in seeing your research that there are more opportunities to make money with film today than ever before because logic and facts don't seem to go with that theory.

Film distribution was a "mature" business before cableTV and internet days. Then breakthroughs in distribution started happening with TV, CableTV, VHS, DVD, internet VOD....

So for now, IMHO, film distribution has matured again. Whether in my gold mining example, making personal computers or automobiles, once a technology or business has matured, it is very hard and/or expensive to break in and make a living. Too many well-heeled, experienced suppliers for a newcomer to gain access to the existing demand (paying) pool (yet not impossible, therefore the notion of "opportunities"). Maybe someday a new distribution "technology" will give indie filmmakers an edge?

Thanks again folks, good thread.
 
It may seem bizarre to put the marketing plan in place before the product but I think this is a critical element.

I am hopefully not a complete lunatic in that I have some expertise behind me.

It is now becoming a little scary (a fool and their money etc...) but my research at this stage indicates there is a possibility I might recovercosts and if I am lucky, generate some upside (decent upside if I am extremely lucky). I also have someone who has given me insight into a few pitfalls as well as what can work which is useful. But I might be wrong. So I'm going to test it with my own money and see.

I'm find more and more training material out there that suggest just what you're planning on doing. Even the writing book, Save the Cat has a similar set of instructions.

I'd be interested in either helping out or at least seeing the fruits of your labor.
 
I'm find more and more training material out there that suggest just what you're planning on doing. Even the writing book, Save the Cat has a similar set of instructions.

I'd be interested in either helping out or at least seeing the fruits of your labor.

If it works, you will know about it as I will be gloating about it on IndieTalk! If it doesn't work, I'll come crawling back crying and a lot poorer!

However, the only way to really know is to try it rather than talking about it so that's just what I'm going to do.

It feels like standing on the edge of a high cliff about to jump off into a pool of water far, far below...
 
If it works, you will know about it as I will be gloating about it on IndieTalk! If it doesn't work, I'll come crawling back crying and a lot poorer!

However, the only way to really know is to try it rather than talking about it so that's just what I'm going to do.

It feels like standing on the edge of a high cliff about to jump off into a pool of water far, far below...

Best of luck, keep us posted!
 
There ARE more avenues and opportunities to make money from content than any time in history.

The good news is there is also more money being spent on content now than every before.

The problem is, what do you do when the studios are taking a massive chunk of that money, releasing less and less content.

It leaves less for the independents. Now for the bad news. There are more independents now than ever before all fighting for an ever decreasing shrinking slice of the pie.

I think you're close here but not quite right. Do we have any evidence that the studios are taking a larger chunk (percentage-wise) than ever before? I would guess it's quite the opposite - movie studios are pulling in a smaller chunk of a larger market than ever before.

Now that doesn't change the other half of the equation much. There are significantly more independents (and others) than ever before - even if they're competing for a growing part of a growing market that doesn't necessarily leave a lot of room for individuals to make a significant profit. But it's not a pure averages thing - I think there's room with the right kind of marketing/promotion approach to find a profit in that space.

It may seem bizarre to put the marketing plan in place before the product but I think this is a critical element.

Quite the opposite - I think it's bizarre at this point to even consider undertaking an independent film project without having a marketing plan in place before you start production, at least if you're serious about turning a profit.
 
You should have a distribution plan during development. You have to determine how the film will be released, which can lead to story changes. You may need to cut out an element because it's not appropriate for the crowd you are going to be releasing the film to, etc. You also have to know what crowd the film is going to appeal to. Ray had pointed something out in a past thread that there are usually four main audiences - Men under 25, Men over 25, Women under 25, Women over 25. If you are making a genre film, you are going to want to make arrangements to send your genre film to a festival that shows that type of film (horror, sci-fi, cult, etc.). I could go on and on about the arrangements and plans you have to make, but one of the most important is budget. You have to determine the amount of money that will be set aside for the release of the film, which can get very costly. Having a plan beforehand is very important.
 
Right on, CPF



The product model I keep thinking of is all the cr@p on the shelves of WalMart.
Do you think any of those product manufacturers just thunk up of sh!t in their garages with no plan at all for distribution?
Hardly.

Read this: http://www.howtosellyourproducttowalmart.com/

Honestly, until I figure out a pipeline to get my film products from script to legit revenue generation I'm not in the slightest bit concerned about actually making something.



(Aside: I think it's amusing when I do a goog search for that image that I've put up on the internet and find both itself and this forum referenced. DOUBLE SCORE!)
http://movies.stackexchange.com/questions/11437/what-are-the-quadrants-in-tv-testing
 
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