Women in Film (WIF) recently held an impressive event during the American Film Market (AFM) that explored new opportunities for distributing independent films. Titled "The New Hollywood Movie Studio: New Power for the Independent Filmmaker Found in the World of New Media and Social Networking," the seminar provided ideas for using the Internet and social media sites to promote, market and distribute films.
The panel suggested that the timing is right to distribute your own film via the Internet and the process should begin before you make your film. Thomas Mai, CEO of Festival Darlings suggested using the Internet to promote your own film. "Stop chasing the Sundance dream. It's not going to happen," said Mai. "Technology is changing the way we do business; connect with a group of people."
The panel went on to say that distribution companies are making low-ball offers for full rights to your work. With these "All Rights” deals, you give up full control of your product for a minimal return; it’s the distributors who are making the money. In the "New World," you maintain the rights and make your own separate DVD and cable deals, and you can consider other distribution rights, such as iTunes. As you create a following through the social networks, you can sell your DVD directly to that market.
The panel cautions that this hybrid or self-distribution path is hard work, but the rewards are substantial and can lead to financial success. "This period of time is like no other," said Marianna Palka, writer and director of the independent feature Good Dick. “By splitting up your rights and maintaining control of your move, you will have distribution control and financial success.”
Documentary Filmmaker Nonny del la Pena says that self distribution will allow your stories to "live in multiple platforms."
"Find your niche,” said Moderator Peter Broderick, president of Paradigm Consulting. “There's a whole world out there, and you need to be thinking about that world all along."