I get a lot of submissions to my portal in the upper Right of my website. In fact, it’s how I get most if not all of the films I distribute. As such, I’ve noticed some trends filmmakers tend to have. So as with most recurring things that happen to me in the business, I decided to write a blog about it.
1. Yes, we do need a screener, and the password.
If we’re going to distribute a film, we need to watch it. Generally that’s the first step, not the second or the third. We’ll probably want to talk to you before we sign you, but the first step is to see if the product is any good. It’s easiest for us to be impartial about the market potential of your film if we watch it cold first. I always get back to people who submit, and I do a strategy call before I sign them,
We understand that you’re sensitive about your intellectual property, and that your film is your baby. The good ones among us also expect that you’ll do some legwork and diligence on use before you submit. Don’t make us email you for a password. I use google forms to manage my submissions portal, and only I have the access to it. The only reason I didn’t create more of a custom solution is that the security protocols for G Suite apps are better than most anything else that would be cost effective to use or create.
2. Get a Vimeo Subscription
While I like Youtube for a lot of reasons, reviewing films is not one of them. Vimeo’s player is higher quality than youtube’s, and when I’m reviewing a film one of the things I’m looking for is if there are likely to be any expensive quality control problems. Youtube makes that very difficult to gauge, due to the compression of the files that go up on the site.
Also, it looks cheap to send an unlisted youtube link. Vimeo isn’t expensive, and there will be costs associated with distribution that get passed on to the filmmaker at least in part. If you can’t pay for a Vimeo subscription, we worry about the viability of your business.
3. We generally only watch a film once, if we watch the whole thing at all.
I get a fair amount of submissions to my portal, most of them I decline to represent. A lot of the films I decline are ones I stopped watching after 20 minutes. I give every film 20 minutes, but if it doesn’t grab me in that time I don’t continue to watch it, and if I don’t continue to watch it it’s an automatic decline.
Most of the time, if I watch a film all the way through, I’m going to represent it. There have been exceptions due to some self imposed content restrictions.
That being said, we have to watch A LOT of movies. We almost never watch them twice. So don’t keep submitting with minor changes. If it’s a decline, it’s a decline. Also, don’t submit until it’s where you need it to be.
As an aside: If you’re going to make changes to the film, after we’ve made an offer, we’ll probably rescind the offer unless you talk to us about it. We made an offer to the film we saw. If you make substantive changes, it’s not going to endear you to us.
4. Festivals provide some level of validation, but are far from the Be all and end all of the film.
Similar to how festivals aren’t likely to to get you distribution (discussed in this blog, right here.) they’re far from the only thing that matters to distributing the film. The laurels mean less than you probably think they do to the sales of a film. Unless it got into one of the top festivals, it’s not going to help you as much as you may think. For more, read the link below.
5. Yes, we do need to know about your social media, but not for why you think
Yes, I ask about your social media. Sure, it has a bit to do with assessing your total reach, but it has more to do with your engagement in your community. Distribution on a budget requires working together with filmmakers.
Also, it helps us know your voice is authentic. We distributors do tend to have favored niches, but we also want to make sure that the films we’re distributing are authentic. You being heavily involved in relevant online communities is a great indicator to that authenticity.
I think I might write more on why distributors care about social media, but I definitely will if someone tweets to me about it or comments below.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading this blog! If you liked what I had to say, and it jives with what you’d expect from a distributor, check out the links below!
Also, if you found this valuable, consider joining my mailing list! You’ll get regular blog digests and a whole resources packet full of indie film financing, marketing, and distribution goodies!
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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