Article by Sid Kali
Indie filmmakers and the business of movie distribution – Entertainment – Music
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We’re providing a forum for indie filmmakers to share their uncensored distribution experiences. If you’re being screwed over by a distributor or want to give kudos to a distributor this is where to post. http://americanavod.com/indie-distributors
Americana VOD is an offshoot of Slice of Americana Films, a self-reliant production company whose current projects are developed, written, directed, produced, and edited in-house. Our experience with distribution companies as indie filmmakers provided inspiration to move forward with Americana VOD. Our biggest goal is to make distribution a straightforward and transparent process from submission to getting paid.
The way it often plays out is a indie filmmaker makes a smaller budget movie without name actors. Mini-major and Hollywood studios pass on releasing the movie because there are no bankable names attached. In steps a independent distributor that has worked with a lot of first time filmmakers. The pitch is you’ll be released through retail outlets like Blockbuster, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and others.
As an indie filmmaker getting your movie seen is right up there with making money from it. Then the pitch continues how you’ll make money from both domestic and foreign sales. You know you want your movie released and you hope to pay back your investors that believed in backing your venture.
So you end up signing a traditional distribution agreement with them. It includes worldwide rights and can be for as long as 25 years. When your movie is released direct-to-video you’re fired up. Like the distributor said in their pitch your movie is at your local Blockbuster and being sold by major retail outlets.
Fast forward a year later. A typical indie filmmaker scenario is playing out. Every quarterly royalty statement you’ve received so far shows your movie is in the red after the distributor takes their cut off the top, then deducts distribution expenses, marketing fees, and manufacturing fees. A indie filmmaker gets hit with so many fees they can’t see straight. If it was a fight it would be stopped.
Never mind the fact you see your movie selling all over. Money is definitely being made off your movie you’re not seeing and you’re getting burned. When you ask the distributor their accounting department emails saying your movie is not making money. What they should say is we’re making money, but you’ve got nothing coming. It’s rare a distribution company that caters to indie movies takes on a movie they know they can’t flip for a profit.
We’re not saying all traditional distribution agreements turn out bad for indie filmmakers. There are many distribution companies that treat indie filmmakers right and cut them checks on a quarterly basis. We’ve experienced that with Ventura Distribution (since bought by First Look Studios) during our deal on a reality program release. Their royalty statements were detailed, sent on time, and we were able to make money from our efforts. They did not kill us with distribution expenses. We received checks instead of only royalty statements in the red.
Americana VOD does not believe in royalty statements loaded with excessive fees passed along to indie filmmakers that shoulder the upfront effort, cost, and risk of creating movies in the first place. We believe you should be treated fairly, communicated with honestly and be given a real chance to earn money from your hard work.
There’s something wrong when the last person to make money from their talent and effort is the filmmaker. With most traditional distribution deals indie filmmakers have little involvement in their work after they sign their deal. We want to see that way of doing business slowly fade into that sweet goodnight.
We want this page to become a resource for indie filmmakers. Before signing a distribution deal check here to read what other indie filmmakers are sharing about their personal experiences with distributors. If you’re a distributor and feel a post is not accurate feel free to respond any way you see fit. We have feeling this going to be a hot spot for filmmakers to talk distribution.
About the Author
Go to The First Movie Is The Toughest to learn from one filmmaker’s story of how their movies got made and sold. Nothing is held back. Every chapter has solid information that will help you avoid problems and save you money through every stage of production. There are many books on making movies, but not many are as truly personal, entertaining and informative as this one!
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