Thanks so much for your email! And the kind words! We appreciate every single one of them.
We have not watched your trailer. The following is based on our movie, not yours.
The decision to self distribute really depends on what you want to do with your life. If you want to spend your time making movies, don’t do it. You won’t have time. If you want to make loads of money, don’t do it. It’s really expensive.
However, if there’s any money to be made from your film, self distribution is likely the only way to make it. Should they secure a distribution deal, most filmmakers end up disappointed by the performance of their distributor, and the lack of financial return. But, having done it, I have more sympathy for the distributor; it’s tremendously expensive, very hard and specialized work, and there’s an infinite list of things you can screw up. From what I hear, it sounds like most distributors aren’t great at their jobs, but it’s a really hard job to be good at.
Here are some resources that might be helpful:
- Film Independent's CASE STUDY: BURN
- Filmmaker Magazine’s Nine Lessons for Self-Distributing Filmmakers with No Money and No Experience
- Fractured Atlas Blog : Up Close with Arts Entrepreneurs: TBVE Films
- Carole Dean & the Art of Film Funding podcast: How to Make Money in Self Distribution
Between these links, you’ll find most every resource we used, lessons learned, and the narrative of our distribution experience.
You can read all the case studies in the world, but I don’t think there’s any way to sufficiently prepare oneself for the level of commitment, risk and stress involved. After getting your film finished, it’s like running a marathon, kicking back and putting your feet up, then being told you have to run another marathon. You also won’t be able to make another film while you do it; it’s an all-consuming full-time job for which you may or may not get paid.
With most films, we think the smart move is to focus on:
- A handful of screenings with related groups or in places you know your film has an audience
- Digital release
- Educational sales
Reach out to organizations or businesses of any kind that might be interested in your film and offer a screening. We did employee screenings for firefighting gear manufacturers, and for firefighting schools and community organizations. Charge a reasonable screening fee.
Find a digital aggregator and focus your attention on a digital release. Find someone who’ll give you a fair deal and whom you like and trust. Look at the other films they’ve released and reach out to the filmmakers for references.
Also, educational sales is a nice, passive income stream. You can do this by going with an educational sales company. We use Passion River. They’re great, but we can’t speak to how they compare with other educational sales groups because we haven’t used anyone else. Again, look at the other films they carry and reach out to the filmmakers for references. You can also handle educational sales yourself by purchasing a mailing list from someone like libraryeland, but it’ll be time consuming.
We’ve offered advice for free to thousands of filmmakers at this point, and none have followed through on self distributing their films. That makes us feel bad. So now we offer paid consult sessions for $250/first hour, $150/hour after that. If you have further questions, we’re happy to set that up.
Thanks so much for reaching out, and good luck with your film!
No one wants you to succeed more than we do.
Best to you,
Brenna & Tom