Self Distribution basics…. And these are only basics.
Self distribution, or called in the film industry “four walling”, is a good way to go if you have time and enough money to push your product. The good news a bout four walling is that you get to keep the profits, all of them. The bad news is it takes a huge amount of time and not a small amount of money to successfully “four Wall” a film. The term, by the way, is from the 4 walls of a movie theater”. Anyway, here are the basics of self distribution:
HAVE A DAMN GOOD MOVIE. ( if you movie is NOT commercial, not interesting and not well produced… no amount of time and money will make it a success )
FIGURE OUT – REALISTICALLY the potential revenue you can derive from your movie and make sure you make it for a lot less, so you have room to create ROI.
PLAN ON SPENDING Months both at home and on the road working your distribution.
STICK TO IT TO THE END. It’s going to take time. You are going to feel the pain, but IF you have a good product you can make self distribution work.
So, HOW do you actually create a successful Self-Distribution campaign?
Set up a website. Clean, neat. To the point. Professional. Take a look at the big boys ( top 10 major films websites for ideas ). Implement these ideas into your movie’s look and feel.
On the website place
a PROFESSIONALLY create poster
A professionally created trailer
interesting data about why the audience would want to what your movie
comments as if from reviews, even if you don’t have any reviews.
Cast photos and BIOs ( unless the cast has no prior work.. Then don’t.
well written and concise Synopisis, logline, tagline.
Stills from the film that show off your production quality.
The most important:
A Sales page that offers – for sale – ( paypal, Bitcoin AND credit card )
T-shirts and swag
Copy of the poster
Anything else you can sell to make money.
MAKE SURE THE SALES PAGE HAS A GREAT BIG HUGE “BUY ME” or “BUY HERE” kind of button.
FIND WAYS TO DRIVE TRAFFIC to your website.
Create a FACEBOOK, TWITTER and general SOCIAL MEDIA campaign to get people to find out about your film. Pay for ads on Facebook,etc…
Locate a list of Art house and local theaters in markets where you feel your movie would do well. ( military movie – go to theaters near military bases, frat house comedy – go to theaters near colleges )
DO MARKET research… figure out where you can get the biggest audience for your money.
Start a Social media campaign for each region/location you will be heading to.
Send an advance team ( or your best friend and filmmaking buddy ) ahead to start putting up posters, get on local radio, or TV, find a way to get the public in your selected area to KNOW your movie is coming for 1 or 2 showings.
Book the theater for 1 night. Push hard to get your audience in ( A theater may cost you $5000 for a single night for a couple showings on a good “movie night” ) you need to at LEAST break even, so consider a ticket costs $15 – you need to sell at least 400 tickets over two shows in a single night to start to break even . That’s 200 people per show.
The owner gets paid by you and makes his/her money on concessions. So you’ll not only need to buy the night, you’ll need to convince him you’ll pull in a good audience.
Video tape and/or record the patron when they come out and get a few good reviews on tape for your website.
Push the Movie “TOUR” on your website.
WHILE DOING ALL OF THIS – get your movie onto ONLINE VOD ( video on demand ) sites ( Like NETFLIX, HULU, ITUNES, or smaller outlets ) Once you’ve gotten a short run of theaters with some success, you will find it easier to get the big online outlets to do a deal.
ALL OF THIS is designed to sell DVDs and Video Downloads of your movie on your webpage and form online streaming. After all of this you can start to look at REDBOX and other DVD outlets.
Check out free access sites like CREATESPACE on AMAZON for self distribution as well.
WHILE DOING ALL OF THIS – you also need to hit the AMERICAN FILM MARKET, BERLIN FILM MARKET and CANNES FILM MARKET to try to sell to foreign distributors. Here’s a link to international distributors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_distributors_by_country
Before you start this you need to really PLAN the whole thing out. Put a PROJECT PLAN together include a MARKETING and SALES plan, A TRAVEL PLAN, GUERRILLA MARKETING PLAN, RESEARCH PLAN and WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA PLANS. Figure out how much TIME, ENERGY and MONEY you’ll need.