Don’t be a widget beater!

A little more on distribution:

There are many routes you can take or that may take you once you’ve completed your film and it’s “in the can”. You may be lucky enough to get accepted into a major film festival and get picked up by a US theatrical distributor. Then there’s the foreign market and the many other channels (Video on Demand, Pay-Per-View, DVD sales/rentals, cable TV, in-flights, etc.)

What happens when you don’t get lucky at the festivals and with distributors? Do you get discouraged? Do you call it a failure? Do you let the people who doubted you would make it this far laugh in your face? Hell no!

You keep going. What have you created? A widget! A product. This is something that you can sell.

Today’s filmmakers have access to a plethora of online outlets. I listed many of them in one of last week’s blogs. You have to create a buzz about your project, go guerrilla if you have to, put together a grass-roots campaign. Get creative and sell as many copies as you can.

This brings me to my next point. You can launch a self-distribution platform theatrical release. If the distributors aren’t biting–don’t give up. You’re married to this widget that you created so make it work! Don’t be a bad spouse and beat your widget or “me and my Louisville Slugger will be paying you a visit”. I’m a big dude. You don’t want me standing in your doorway with a baseball bat. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a widget beater! Especially if the widget was my sister–in that case, you’re just a shitty filmmaker and I will kick your ass!

Okay so back to the self-distribution theatrical release. Basically what you want to do is create a movie tour. It’s kind of like what Rock Stars do but with movie theaters. This is how What the Bleep do We Know? got so popular. Remember this film?

None of the filmmakers had any distribution experience. They just had tenacity and they loved their widget. They believed in their product and they sold the hell out of it like Tommy Boy when he was trying to save his Dad’s company. You contact the smaller privately owned theaters in some of the smaller metro areas and start a fire (if you need examples of these theaters then e-mail me). Sell DVDs on site, t-shirts, posters, and drive traffic to your online market. You may think this is a weak hanging on for dear life strategy. If you’re looking at the numbers only then you may be right. You’re not doing this as a hardcore strategy to make a ton of money by self-distribution. You’re building value in your widget. You’re basically throwing your widget on one of those house-wife makeovers so she’s more desirable. Now you have distributor interest.  This is the goal. If you can make some money along the way then why wouldn’t you?

Once you attract a distributor you should negotiate a Hybrid Deal. This involves having both a self-distribution strategy and a US theatrical release as well. These deals occur when you start self-distributing via direct and online, attract a distributor, and then negotiate the online distribution rights for yourself. Think about it. You’ve been selling your DVDs online and making $10-$15 a pop. If you give up your online rights and a distributor starts selling them, then all of a sudden you have to pay the middle man. Instead of your usual hefty profit margin, you’re now only making $3-$4 a pop. Get the picture?

Moral of the story. Don’t beat your widgets!

Nathaniel Latimer
Social Norm Movie Blog:


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