Under the Dome of Indie Movie Distribution
Living under the dome of indie movie distribution is wildly entertaining, unpredictable and strangely addictive for most indie filmmakers that make movies way outside of Hollywood.
The cast of real life characters you meet dealing with indie movie distribution is like a storyline out of a Spaghetti Western. You know you’re going to get in an indie movie distribution agreement gunfight at some point as a movie making gunslinger outlaw.
Lots of indie movie producers have to deal with movie distribution companies on their own. There is really isn’t the money when an indie movie is finished to hire an entertainment attorney gunslinger as extra firepower.
Under the dome of indie movie distribution it really is the quick and the dead when it comes to getting an indie film distributed after signing a fair movie distribution agreement.
Movie distribution companies that cater to releasing indie films are not all villains and not all indie movie producers are heroes. It’s just my opinion that indie movie distribution can cut both ways because deals signed or not are really only as good as the people involved.
If a movie distributor operates using creative accounting to screw indie movie producers out of movie royalty money there is nothing that can be done to change their way of doing business.
Movie distributors out to hustle filmmakers already know how to work the film sales numbers and boost movie distribution fees to make sure an indie film producer is always in the hole when they get their film royalty statements.
It’s the ugly side of indie film distribution. That’s why having an entertainment attorney or film sales representative helps keep everything on the up and up when negotiating a movie distribution contract and later getting paid from movie royalties.
Indie movie distributors that are sharks know they can take a bite of producers that can’t afford an entertainment attorney. But not all movie distributors are sharks. Many are straightforward and can be dealt with if you know what you’re doing.
Even though every movie distribution company that caters to releasing indie produced cinema does have a standard contract, it doesn’t mean they don’t negotiate deal points.
This is the part of indie movie distribution where an indie movie producer can be unreasonable and unrealistic about the marketability of their film when trying to get a deal for distribution.
Like the song lyrics, “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”
Movie distributors are not concerned how much blood, sweat, tears and MONEY you put into making your movie. They are in the entertainment business to make money with movies that appeal to film buyers.
Where indie movie producers shoot themselves in the foot is overestimating the appeal of their film. It could be harsh reality that a movie is only marketable enough to get a standard contract.
I’m not saying that it is only good enough to get a standard deal, but I’m saying marketable enough. The movie could be great, but have very limited sales appeal to film buyers at movie markets like the American Film Market (AFM).
There are so-so indie produced movies that get better deals and make more money than much better produced indie movies. Reality of the movie distribution business at all levels.
It’s damn hard as an indie movie producer not to think what you created deserves a great movie distribution deal that pays.
It’s even harder to be brutally honest when looking at a movie from a strictly financial and marketable viewpoint to say, “Yeah, I can see where the movie has limited sales appeal.”
I know a couple of indie movie producers that have passed on indie movie distribution deals because they couldn’t separate the creative and business side of making indie movies.
There movies have been shown at a few film festivals and it’s been a few years now, so the shelf life for their indie movies is expired.
Even though they told me the money being offered upfront in advances for their movie would not even scratch the itch of their budgets got me thinking they passed up on having lots more people see their work.
I like to think that securing meaningful indie movie distribution always helps you negotiate better deals for your next projects and at the very least feel good that more people saw your movie.
Bottom-line from my experience and talking to other filmmakers who shopped and sold movies is indie movie distribution is the Wild West. Just like they say about life, it’s not fair.
From talking to different movie distributors and other indie movie producers that have sold movies there are a few things to help strike a better deal or give you peace of mind on what to expect.
Hire an entertainment attorney or film sales representative.
If self-representing your movie make sure to read books about movie distribution.
Pay attention to all distribution fees. Ask for a list because some crafty distributors will hide them in the definitions section of a movie distribution agreement.
Separate your creative self from your business self when looking at your finished movie.
Ask for an advance against future sales it might be the last money you see from your movie.
Ask for a sample of the royalty statement the distributor uses.
Don’t get down on yourself if every movie distributor passes on your movie because rejection is 99% of the entertainment business at all levels.
There are a lot of honest indie movie distributors out there that deal fairly with indie movie producers. Taking time and not rushing into a deal is said often, but the good advice usually is. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT
Categories: Indie Movie Distribution Tags: entertainment attorney gunslinger, film royalty statements, film sales numbers, hire an entertainment attorney, indie film distribution, Indie Movie Distribution, movie distribution agreement, movie distribution companies, movie distribution contract, movie distribution fees, movie royalties, movie royalty money, Sid Kali