Interesting article this week in the Los Angeles Times about a Sundance screener, and the 10,000 films that are sifted through to get into the festival. If you're there in Park City, congratulations, it's a wonderful celebration of film. In light of the bidding wars over the more celebrated entries, we wanted to weigh in on some various DIY avenues open to Filmmakers to distribute your work after the DIY Film Festival.
The opportunities for self distribution have grown exponentially every year. A filmmaker is truly only limited to his or her imagination as to how they want to get their film out in front of the public. We've sponsored a number of panels on the subject, and I highly recommend taking a look at what Derek Sivers has to say behind his success at CDBaby.org - There are number of his talks posted there about self distribution - albeit that he's talking about music distribution - but his techniques apply to anyone who wants to learn how to self distribute. His lecture, "How to sell 10,000 CD's a year" applies to filmmakers as well. Here's a list of articles from the DIY Reporter about self marketing, including film.
Recently we received a notice from Quad Cinema Four Wall Select in NYC that offers a unique opportunity - for a set fee, they will screen your film, promote it to the newspapers and allow you to qualify for the various Academy categories for the Oscars. Here's an article about their service from IndieWire. The upside is that your film is in a movie theater in Manhattan. If you can get a review from a newspaper, that goes a long way to selling your film to a distributor, perhaps even qualify it for the Academy awards. The downside is that your film is in a movie theater in Manhattan... you have to drum up an audience to come and see your film in that option rich environment - and as you'll see from the listed prices, it's important to fill the theater. But this is a unique offering, and definitely worth checking into if "four walling" is the route you'd like to take.
There are other outlets that are unique. CreateSpace.com for example allows you to submit your film, your artwork, and they'll print and wrap your DVD. It's in your hands as to the quality of the label, the quality of the film, and you're allowed to set your own price for your film. It's a fairly simple process, that once you've gathered the materials, takes only a few hours to complete. Their company has been bought by Amazon.com, so that means if you choose it, your film will also be available for paid streaming downloads. That's a bit different than what is offered at youtube, and other places that you can earn money from the amount of page views of people watching your film. While that is valuable, being in charge of your own sale of a DVD or streaming video seems to be more immediate.
And once you have your film digitized and ready for sale, then it's only up to your imagination as to how you want to sell it - through facebook, myspace and other social networks, you can immediately reach your audience. By posting blogs and writing about your film, you also can draw attention to it. And finally, once you've submitted it to festivals, gotten a positive response, then its a matter of letting those who can distribute films know about it. But no one will be able to see your work unless you take the time to learn how to make it available to them. Good luck!
"Film will only became an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper." Jean Cocteau