How to make your film stand out to distribution companies
It's finally done. You've completed your film. You've held screenings. You've submitted to film festivals - some of which you may not have gotten into (don't worry, this is not the end all be all).
What's next? Distribution.
In order to put your beloved film into the hands of the right audience, you've got to market your film to distributors. They're the ones that can connect with all major DVD, VOD and Educational platforms.
Distribution companies see thousands of submissions every month, so you've got to make sure your film is sent in a professional and unique manner.
Simply stated, present your film in the best light possible.
The acquisitions team at Passion River sees films of every genre - documentaries, dramas, comedies, and more.
We want your film to be good - TRUST US. We're always looking for the next hit, so don't let a poor submission method cloud your awesome story.
Be sure to follow the steps we lay out on our 'Film Submission' page (ALERT: Proper spelling and grammar are never over-rated), but in addition, we are generally looking for 5 key elements.
As the Acquisitions Assistant at PR, one of the few indie film distributors in the Greater New York area, I'm here to share with you these 5 secrets to help you with the process:
1. EXPOSURE. It's vital that your film has been seen. After all, the product must be in demand for us to successfully sell it. We can present anyone's film to a major outlet like Redbox, but unless there's an audience that wants it, it's a complete waste of everyone's time and money. If a lot of people want to watch it, I'm interested. Some ways of gaining exposure are by submitting your film to appropriate festivals, holding theatrical releases and maintaing a large social media presence - Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube views are great, among other things, as they build a community of support. Just be sure to screen your film and get people's reactions before even thinking of distribution.
2. STAR POWER. Famous people. We love them, we hate them, we pay to see them. In the world we live in where everyone races to see the next Jennifer Lawrence flick, celebrities really rule the entertainment industry. Of course, it's important to have a great story and there's always those rare cases when a film with no name talent is the next big hit, but usually one star can bring in a huge audience. If your film's got lots of star power (in the talent, director, narrator etc.), then I am automatically inclined to learn more. Showcase the people involved in your film that already have a fan base.
3. SUBJECT. This rings true especially for documentaries. When a film has a very popular subject or focuses on a hot topic (Health, Environment... etc.) it generally interests me. People are usually intrigued by a movie that deals with a topic they like. Try to market your film by categorizing it. I know you feel as though you're film is too unique to shove under one umbrella - but think of a popular subject that fits and just go with it. This will maximize the viewers.
4. REVIEWS. Probably one of the biggest things that stand out to me. If I see a review from a prestigious publication - The New York Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, etc. - it's going to pop. No one really cares that your cousin who has a blog loved the movie! You've got to show me the trusted sources that have seen your film, as these guys are almost the "gatekeepers" to success. This goes hand in hand with exposure (which you need in order to get reviewed). For educational distribution, reviews from professionals that deal with your film's subject are also important.
5. KEY ART. Last but not least is your film's poster. An amazing piece of key art always sells. Think of the crappiest movie you know. The one that's tearing up Netflix and VOD platforms everywhere. You're probably wondering - Why is that selling and I can't even get my film distributed? It's most likely because it has an amazing poster. Everything from the title to the colors you use matters. Study other successful movie covers and work with an awesome graphic designer to ensure that your film has a beautiful face. You need to consider the size as well - what will look good hanging on a wall and as a thumbnail on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Overall, don't let these factors scare you.
If I see a good story, I'm going to go to bat for it.
Our company is always willing to take your film to the next level and showcase it's attributes. These elements are merely things to remember and even include when sending out your movie.
I consider the process of acquiring a film to be bit like dating. You've maybe heard about the film, it's gotten around, has a pretty poster, but ultimately you want to be sure the film is a keeper before "marrying it".
Just try and make your film one of the ones worth keeping.
* This blog article written by Acquisitions Asssistant Robert Peterpaul