Distribution has been maybe the most humbling part of filmmaking. Or maybe it was post-production? Regardless, it's been a humbling year learning about new forms of independent film production and trying to get people to see my first feature, Bad Batch.
After several rejections from festivals, IFC, and distribution companies not getting back to me, a couple distributors came knocking. Now, it's a matter of dealing with contracts, taking care of contracts that should have been signed a ways back, wrapping my head around errors and omissions insurance (which all indie filmmakers should know about in preproduction), creating key art, and more.
It feels like it's all moving forward, but the constant "2 steps forward, 1 step back" can be nerve-wracking and certainly humbling. Do I know what I'm doing with contract law? I would say "no", but I've been able to find quality help.
I'm lucky to know some quality people out here in LA, and I'm appreciative of that. Mark Stolaroff, who runs the No Budget Film School, has been a huge help throughout the distribution process. (He also did a great job emceeing the Bad Batch premiere.) Mark made it possible for me to speak with Peter Broderick. Peter Broderick's an incredibly kind and cool guy who's all about helping out the independent artist. He, Ted Hope, and others are starting discussions that need to happen now in order for indie artists to have careers doing what they love, not merely hobbies.
When I heard Peter Broderick was hosting an all day event at UCLA called Distribution U with Scott Kirsner, I had to go. Peter was kind enough to educate me on my own distribution options and let me into the event. So cool.
I geek out for stuff like this. A full day of being able to talk to other indie film people looking to figure out distribution and marketing. These are my people. So, I loaded up on caffeine from Intelligentsia and took the scenic route down Sunset boulevard from Silverlake to Westwood.
The event was a mix of speakers showing examples of (predominantly) distribution success stories and more intimate lunch discussions. The lunch discussions really stood out, as they served as opportunities to speak directly with filmmakers who've been in the trenches, digital distributors, legal and PR experts, and more.
Here are some things that stuck with me from the event:
Go where your audience is. You don't necessarily have to create an entirely new audience, but rather, embrace communities that are already in existence who you feel would enjoy your content. For example, with my movie Bad Batch, there's (fortunately) already an audience that likes stoner films. If you're movie is about high school wrestling, embrace that community. Napolean Dynamite went after nerds and that worked out exceptionally well.
Make it clear what you want your audience to do, especially on your film's web site. There's already enough clutter everywhere in the world. Tell the user what to do, and be simple and clear about it. Want people to sign up for your email list? Why should people sign up? What will they get out of signing up?
You need all 3 of these on your team, even if they're not all separate people: storyteller, entrepreneur, and technologist.
Be sure to copyright your film as soon as you lock picture!
"When you dream up your next film in the shower, that's the moment you need to be thinking about audience." -- Peter Broderick
"The most important thing in the 21st century -- to be remarkable and make remarkable stuff." -- Peter Broderick