Question by Dirt: How much can you sell a small film for?
If I sell my independent film to a Straight to DVD vendor, how much is realistic to expect?
All things aside (making a film, making it well, good writing, etc) and assuming I make an appealing feature film (well filmed, acted, good writing), my question is:
“How much could it sell for, and where?”
Please, I am not referring to the festival circuit, but rather plan to contact distributors directly. In other words, assuming my film is well made, what could I expect as a realistic price range for just selling the film to a “straight to video” distributor outright? No auctions, bidding, festivals or contests. No, I am not claiming to have the next Blair Witch or Open Water. But something sellable, yes.
Is there a “direct to video” market still out there?
I cite Robert Rodriguez’s original goal, in 1991, of making indie features and selling to wholesalers. He expected to sell his feature for anywhere from 25-100K then, and that was 20 years ago. In your opinion, has that market risen, slumped, or gone away? I hope someone here has a story or two they can share of someone in recent years pulling off a sale, with the price range they received.
Here is the deal. I am at a crossroads. I am a filmmaker ready to dive into a film project, but not as a hobbyist, but rather as a side business. I am sitting on three scripts which I could realistically film, cut, score this year, but I am not a hobbyist looking for fun on the weekends; I want substantially more that that from my efforts. Someday, if I win the lotto, maybe I will spend my nights and weekends making indies just for my personal kicks. But at this point, I am interested in becoming a business FILMMAKER, as over against a hobbyist.
I need some idea of what I could expect (ballpark) for a well made, professionally edited independent film. I am not interested in traveling to festivals, etc, and ‘hoping’ someone takes notice. I would rather treat it like a creative BUSINESS and make a real product, for a real client, and if the relationship goes well then perhaps a steady stream of output over time. I realize the internet has changed distribution dramatically, but that is why I am here: to ask this of someone who hopefully knows something.
Again, for the sake of my question please assume my product is valid, desirable, cleanly edited, etc. I am not looking for a lecture on how to start making films. I already am a filmmaker. I just never sold one yet, and I am not interested in festivals and ‘fads’ and social networking and whatnot. I am looking to let the rubber meet the road.
I am wide open to criticism, so let me know whatever you have to say. Am I way off base? Am I unrealistic? Am I behind the times? You can’t hurt my feelings, so fire away, please.
If anyone wishes to email me, please don’t hesitate. I would love to hear from anyone on this topic. I can be reached at dirtroadfilms * y4h00.com
Thanks in advance!
Answer by Sabot03196
It’s a tough one to answer based on a few factors. Genre, Who’s in your film and what your budget is.
As far as Genre goes, horror is always popular in the direct to DVD market because it’ll bear a lot of crap product, poor production values, shit acting, the usual. I’ve got friends who have done okay in direct sales. One did a $ 25G feature on digital which he sold to Lions Gate for $ 250G. I just worked on a project where the budget was around $ 175G and I think the first window sale to a subscription movie network was around $ 100G. Now on that particular project, it was a piss poor showing all around by the director etc. So no I doubt it’ll make it’s money back. It was also the last micro budget film I’ll be working on.
Don’t rule out festival play, as it’ll drive awareness of your product and if successful, can drive up your asking quote on a sale. There’s all kinds of festivals out there for all kinds of films and they all have distinct fan bases. Kevin Smith may be on to something about only selling to his fans. We spend a lot of money trying to four quadrant films that for the most part are single quadrant pictures. Successful festival runs can also add snob factor which again can make you more money in the long run.
Budgets are the grey area. Yes, you can make a film for $ 25G, it may even sell but it’s got to be a labor of love for all involved or all you get is shit acting and a poor looking end product. Plus, your post process is going to be a real hassle. Sound editing costs money as does CGI and a myriad of other things that add up. A million isn’t quite enough to get a good name actor, two million is better and for some weird reason four million freaks out the investors but ten is okay (just more work to get your hands on).
So if you PM me, you can give me the genre you’re working in, and your budget range, I can probably be a bit more specific in my answer.
I’m a produced screenwriter with feature film and TV credits. I also produce.
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