Back from my teaching gig, I ran into a colleague who had been to our cast and crew screening in June. “I’m still thinking about your movie,” she said, and wanted to talk about it. Lots of people who’ve seen it want to see it again.
Had some rejection this week – a small distribution company recommended by a cast member turned it down, but some positive things, too, like an old friend of mine who used to be a movie reviewer who made some appreciative and supportive comments, and a positive response from Jenny.
Jenny is the person who is stepping in to help me with researching various distribution companies with an eye toward making the most of the time I spend at the American Film Market, where I’m hoping to talk with a lot of distributors in one fell swoop and generally assess the lay of the land. Jenny was ready to help me prepare for that anyway, and then she finally saw the movie and is now even more ready. She used to own a video store and knows a lot about what’s out there and how distributors think about what’s out there. Jenny’s thinking about the movie in broader terms than some people do – as a small character-driven piece in the tradition of films like Bagdad Café. Not a “women’s movie,” or a “cancer movie.” I’m glad she feels that way, because that’s how I think about it, too.
So distribution’s about getting the movie out into the world, like finding a publisher when you write a book. You need to get it into theaters, sold for DVD distribution, TV, whatever. The idea is to sell it to some entity that takes care of those things. It’s possible but extremely difficult and requires a lot of upfront money to do much of this yourself. There are newer models that have to do with online sales of various kinds, but you have to understand that process, do a lot of marketing yourself, and it’s really hard to make any money back that way at this point. So the major issue is: Find a distributor or do it yourself? Various steps you take can work for one path while harming the other path. As my friend Linda put it, it’s a web of contingencies.
I’m giving myself until the end of the year (by which time we’ll know whether we’ve been accepted at Sundance) to try for the more traditional route (finding a distributor), while, at the same time, exploring paths that might lead to self-distribution a bit farther down the road. Am grateful to have a lot of helpers and supporters along this route.