After your film has done the festival tour and garnered some recognition (or not), it is time to look at video and film distribution to bring in the money!
The competition for films is very high in any big market, and to get a TV distributor to even look at your film can be a challenge. It might be unconventional, experimental or maybe too long for a standard programming slot or not of the standard they are looking for in the short term. Fear not, there is an alternative.
Thanks to the growth of social networks and video sharing sites it is much easier to reach people through viral marketing. Indie filmmakers for the first time have the power to distribute films through the web and build a fanbase. How?
The traditional distribution model used to require a large marketing investment in materials such as posters, flyers, advertisements on TV and so on. The internet has made it cheaper and more efficient to create that same quality of advertising without the need for investing in materials. (However, in order to compete with the studios you are going to need a few more people on your team.)
You can build your own audience by starting groups, fan pages, and even a website that promotes your film. You can cut a trailer and put it on youtube, link all your accounts together, and create your brand. All these tools are available to you free of charge (or for little cost if you choose to take it a step further)
For free website creation www.weebly.com is a great starter pack with all the tools you need to make a clear presentation of your movie with a sleak look. For a little bit extra you can get rid of their custom tab and place your own domain name.
www.zazzle.com is a website that helps you create merchandising that can be used to promote your film. Do you need posters for your local screenings? Do you want to give away freebies at your big premiere or wear your custom made T shirts? This however will not provide you with the option of creating DVDs, but it will market your DVD if you tell people where they can download or buy it! Sometimes a minimal investment is needed to create the right branding for your film.
For example, at the Cannes Film Festival there are so many films competing in the market that you need to find a way to set yourself apart from the rest. You have a large audience at your disposal, but how do you entice them to come to your screening? Wear a costume or bring out some beers!
There are several outlets that help you sell your films without you having to incur the costs of manufacturing your product.
https://www.createspace.com/ is a great website that allows you to make your professional DVDs or VODs with no cost. Profits are divided between you and the company per unit or download. You can therefore set the bar as to how much you want to charge (and earn) from each DVD/download. These products that you make are sold through Amazon, and can also be embedded into your own website. Think big! Build your audience, and get people to buy from you directly.
http://www.tunecore.com is a distribution platform (in beta) that helps you send your film to itunes for online downloads. This is a new service that provides the expertise to help you get your materials together and send it off. TuneCore takes no back-end or distribution fee. You will receive 100% of the revenue generated according to its terms and conditions. Initially, there is a fee for this service.
VOD Video on demand services are available mostly in the US. There are outlets that offer you money for download purchases or to share advertising revenues such as on www.vuze.com. There are other outlets but the market is still fairly new to most people. Mobile phones are also picking up content, but to find these outlets are difficult and there is not much demand for a paying subscription to watch films on a phone yet.
Last but not least research! There are creative ways of getting your film out there to the masses. These are just a few ideas to get you going, but the internet is vast, and there are plenty of outlets that support film.
If you are looking for a get rich quick scheme, think again. It takes time to build loyalty and an image, but if your film has good reviews, or an excited following, then you will be earning money in no time!