Modern technology has changed the way we consume media. Back then, heading out to the movies was a treat. We get ready for a fun Friday or Saturday night with friends or loved ones. We line up, grab popcorn, find out seat and watch our favorite actors in a big screen in the dark.
Today, it’s much the same. Except we don’t even have to head out anymore. We can watch most of the films we like, both new and old, in our laptops, smartphones or our own TV sets. While more and more people are watching movies, Hollywood film revenues are shrinking away. And this is exactly where new filmmakers looking to create their own films benefit.
Big movie studios have always monopolized the film industry for decades but these days, the traditional Hollywood business model is being disrupted by affordable technology and greater accessibility.
If you’ve always wanted to make and release your own film like New Dawn Film’s Angry Boy, there are three key areas you can focus on to disrupt the Hollywood business model.
In the next three posts, we’ll go in depth, discussing disruptions in Distribution, Filmmaking and Marketing that you can use to your advantage.
Typical Movie and Film Distribution
- Generate movie idea
- Create an outline and promote interest
- Studio or independent investor purchases rights to film
- Cast, crew, production team, director and screenwriter are assembled
- Film is completed and sent to the studio
- Studio licenses film and creates distribution agreement with company
- Distribution company decides how many copies of the film are made
- Distribution company creates a movie screening to prospective buyers
- Buyers negotiate and agree with distribution company on films they would like to lease
- Prints are sent to theaters several days before opening day
- Theater releases film and shows them for a few weeks (termed as “engagement”)
- Movie buff buys ticket and watches film
- After engagement, theater sends prints back to distribution and pays for lease agreement
In some cases there may additional steps for indie films and some steps lumped together in others, depending on the situation.
Getting To Know Distribution Companies
After seeing the traditional model, you’ll realize getting a distributor is the key to getting your film seen by a wider audience. And this is where almost all of the challenge for new filmmakers lie.
Distributors often only choose films that are marketable or films that they are confident can make proper returns on their investment. So in the typical Hollywood models, having a major studio backing your film is advantageous. Getting popular actors or directors is another. Independent film makers on the other hand, have to mostly rely on film festival showings to capture the attention of distributors.
When a distributor is interested in a film, the parties then discuss what type of distribution agreement they’ll have; either, leasing the film by paying a fixed amount for distribution rights or profit-sharing, where the distributor gets a percentage of the net profits from a movie. A lot of big studios like Disney for example have their own distribution company, Buena Vista. This makes the arrangement simpler and the profits can be easily shared.
Distribution companies can buy rights for the film only but usually they also obtain ancillary rights like DVD, cable, network TV or other rights like posters, CDs, toys, games and various merchandise.
The Disruptive Distribution Model
Back then, not getting a “distribution deal” was often taken to signal you weren’t a “real filmmaker,” but these days, getting a distribution deal isn’t as complicated as before.
More and more filmmakers and independent companies are looking into the modern self-distribution as a way to get their films out to the market without having to wait on large distribution companies to notice them.
Even better, with an open global access and a direct contact with the marketplace, you won’t even need to sign away your rights to shady distributors. As long as you have a good, strong marketing and distribution plan in place for your film, you can function like an independent movie business.
Over the years, we’ve seen a rise in digital streaming using laptops, phones and tablets. As mentioned, people these days now have some of the best hi-def television sets sitting right in their living room so there’s no need for most to even go out to the theatre or buy DVDs.
As a new filmmaker creating your film, this works to your advantage. Without prominent backing on your side, you can use streaming websites and video on demand facilities to release your film straight to the public.
There are also “independent” online distribution companies you can use to help distribute your own film. Using services like these helps you bypass the traditional distribution process and instead lets you handcraft the experience of distribution according to your style, taste or needs.
Examples of Companies for Distribution
o Amazon Video Direct
Perhaps one of the easiest methods of distribution for modern filmmakers, Amazon Video Direct has allowed indie filmmakers to release their films to thousands of households across the world without having to deal with sales agents or distributors. Just make sure to have a distribution plan for your film so you know exactly what to focus on and whether you could sell enough units using just Amazon alone or if you will need to use more platforms and add more territories. If your goal is to reach a higher number of units, releasing alone in Amazon might not be enough.
A form of third party aggregator, Quiver, has made a name for itself for giving independent filmmakers a chance to showcase their film and get it into big streaming platforms like iTunes, Amazon or even Netflix. There’s a flat-price you have to pay to use the company, of course, and whether that will be worth it, is totally up to you. Quiver promises to “help any filmmaker find an online audience.” The great thing with this is that they take care of everything else, including packaging, encoding and delivering your film to various VOD platforms even those like Netflix who have low acceptance rates when individuals represent their own film.
o Vimeo on Demand
Vimeo’s distribution is directly hosted through their platform. It’s a simple to use and as intuitive as you uploading a video on your profile. Vimeo on Demand offers a 90%/10% filmmaker split plus $17 Pro subscription and transaction fees. But with the reach that it has, the deal is hard to beat.
As you can see, disrupting the Hollywood film model has become easier. Even if you’re a relatively new filmmaker, it is now possible to create your own film and later distribute it to a wider audience.
And this isn’t the only way filmmakers and investors can disrupt the old model. Now, even potential investors can make some money by supporting a filmmaker or film company in making a new film through equity crowdfunding.
Check out how New Dawn Film is using it for their latest project through this Start Engine campaign.
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