Revealed: 4 Video Distribution Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know
Top Secrets of Video Distribution Aspiring Filmmakers Need to Know
Do you want to know the true secret to filmmaking success?
Hard work. And lots of it.
Not the answer you were looking for?
Unfortunately, in order to make it in the competitive film industry as a filmmaker, you will need more than just a great idea.
In fact, the cold hard truth is that becoming a successful filmmaker typically starts with a solid background in filmmaking. And, though many will try to convince you otherwise, this is best gained by attending video production classes offered at a reputable recording arts school such as the Sheffield Institute for Recording Arts.
Yet, taking video production classes, having a great idea, and ultimately filming your creation is not where the hard work ends and success pours in.
Today we will take a look at the step that occurs after you film your video – that is, the video distribution process.
And, to make things more exciting, we will reveal the top secrets every filmmaker should know before distributing their first video so that when it comes time to reign in the success, you have the best possible chance of doing so.
Secret #1: There is a Difference between Distributor and Aggregator
It is easy for aggregators of videos to sway those just entering the film industry that they are movie distributors. However, by attending a quality video production school, you will be taught to know better than that. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two business models:
A distribution company is responsible for marketing your completed video. They are usually separate from the production company used to film the video and play an important role in financing your film.
Take a look at a quick rundown of the distribution process between a video production company and distributor if your film is to be shown in a movie theater:
- A licensing agreement is signed between production and distributor.
- Distributors pay an upfront fee to use your video.
- The distribution company determines the number of copies or prints to make.
- Distributors screen the video to prospective buyers representing movie theaters.
- The buyers negotiate with the distributor to show a film in their theaters.
- Prints are sent to the theaters for showing to the public.
- The public views the film for a specified amount of time.
- After the viewing is over, the print is sent back to the distributor and payments are made all around.
Distributors usually set the release date of your video and determine how your film will be shown. For example, you may show your film directly to the public, in the theater, or in-home such as online, in DVD form, or on television.
On the other hand, a video aggregator is typically a website that collects and organizes online videos from a variety of sources, such as fresh filmmakers like you looking to distribute your first film. They are also sometimes referred to as the middlemen between filmmakers and distribution companies.
The key difference is that aggregators simply gather a bunch of random videos that they think viewers will be interested in, show them to the general public, and hope that some gain enough interest for people to continue viewing their website. You then hope that interested viewers will purchase your film from other online sources.
Sometimes aggregators may find a true talent in the hordes of videos they are showing and push them along to a distribution company, but this is rare. And don’t forget, if this happens to you, understand that the aggregator is in position to gain a lot monetarily from this. They are after money just as much as anyone else.
Altogether, though aggregators can be cost effective, especially if you are hoping to distribute your video on your own, the truth is they are not going to rake in the same success a distributor will be able to.
Secret # 2: Direct Contact with Platforms is Not Always True
Many film distributors will claim they have direct contact with the platforms you are seeking to show your video on. This includes the likes of Amazon, iTunes, and even movie theaters.
If the distribution company you are looking to work with touts having a personal connection with a particular platform, be wary. Though this may not be entirely false, it could simply mean that they have a point of contact within the sales team. This does not guarantee a secured place on the platform in question, a contract signing, or the big bucks.
In the end, networking is great in the film industry and the more connections your distributor has, the higher chance you have of being picked up. However, due diligence plays a role in how successful you will actually become. Always do your research!
Secret #3: There are Several Ways to Distribute
When people think of distribution companies, those such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures often come to mind. And, while these companies are sure to make you successful should your video get picked up by them, it is a good idea to be mindful of other distribution methods just in case.
Let’s be honest, not everyone is going to have a blockbuster hit. But, that does not mean there is no money to be made. If you have followed the video production process carefully and created a film that caters to a particular audience, there are bound to be people interested in seeing your video.
Here are two popular video distribution methods you will learn about in your video production classes at Sheffield:
- Producer’s Reps. This is a well-connected representative that can research a variety of distributors and film buyers to find you the best deal. Though sometimes difficult to find, a producer’s rep can be very lucrative. They will want to see your video firsthand and will only take you on if they believe your film is marketable.
- Self-Distribution. When all else fails and you cannot find a distributor to work with you, there is always the option to do it yourself. Using reputable companies such as CreateSpace to electronically submit your film for free, and Amazon.com to create DVDs to sell your video, you still have an opportunity to make some revenue off of your hard work. You can also market to platforms such as Hulu, Google Play, and Netflix.
Secret #4: Do NOT Show Your Film Unofficially
One of the most critical secrets any filmmaker should know before distributing their video to anyone, especially independent distribution companies, is to never show your film before the official distributor screening.
If a distributor you are seeking to work with sees your film beforehand and turns you down, chances are word will get out and you will never secure a deal with anyone. The truth is, there are many sleazy distributors out there looking to make a buck at the expense of you and your hard work. Ripped off work, rumors harming your reputation, and money-making scams are something to take seriously when it comes to the distribution process. Be careful and guard your video.
In the end, creating a video from start to finish is a long and arduous process. However, the opportunity for success is there so long as you are knowledgeable about all steps and are willing to put in the time and dedication needed to become successful. Your hard work will pay off in one way or another if you play your cards right.
If you are an aspiring filmmaker in the Maryland area, contact the Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts. With industry professionals teaching you every aspect of the filmmaking process, you will be sure to know exactly how to market your first film and get a distribution deal.
Sheffield’s instructors are well connected in the film industry and know the ins and outs of the distribution process. This knowledge is passed on to interested students, such as yourself, and proves crucial in the real world once you enter the film industry as a career professional.