Re: [Videolib] A question for distributors - What advice would you give a young filmmaker about how to find a distributor?

From: Dennis Doros <milefilms@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 10:34:53 PST

Chris,

They need to do their research. We get about five emails a week from
filmmakers who want to show us their new horror film. Obviously, that is
neither Milestone's interest or within our capabilities. To successfully
distribute a horror film, you need either a lot of money or a ready customer
base. The same can be said with a medical documentary or one how to fix a
motorcycle. You want a distributor who LOVES your film and has the knowledge
on how to promote and sell it.

So the first thing to do is to figure out what kind of film they have, what
companies distribute similar films, and how successful they are doing so.
Find out in advance who is the head of acquisitions (call the company if you
have to) and write a good letter (without typos or grammatical flaws,
please!) with a well-designed and laid-out package of materials that go with
it. The letter be addressed to that particular person in charge, should
state why the film would be a good fit for the distributor and how you
admired their release of "______" and think your film has a similar chance
for success. Flattery helps a lot. Then call up a week later, be courteous
and professional and offer a screener. Personality will help get your film
at least screened. And for theatrical releas, it helps to have a
professional, outgoing, well-spoken director -- and distributors look for
that.

The major film festivals like New York, Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Toronto
are important and then the next-tier festivals like Slamdance, South by
Southwest, AFI and IFP (and others including all the great documentary
festivals) are essential as well. Others less so to the point it can hurt a
film because if it's played too many festivals, then it gives the
distributor the idea that it's either been rejected by other distributors or
that it's played so much it will be difficult to get audiences. That could
just be my own opinion, by the way -- I'm not sure it's true for others.
Also, I may be wrong because this is one of the ways for filmmakers to
travel, meet other filmmakers and distributors, and get to know more people
in the field. For features, it helps to play them if you can get reviewed
in Variety, Hollywood Reporter and/or Screen Daily.

And don't be too offended by rejections!!! For one thing, a lot of
distributors are small and may have too many films at the moment already. We
only do two to four films a year, for example. If rejected, you should write
an extremely nice letter or note saying that if they change their mind, you
would love to work with them if not on this one then on the next film. You
don't want to make enemies. (We do talk amongst ourselves and we are quick
to mention the directors we love to work with and the horror stories of
those otherwise!)

Best,
Dennis

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 10:29 AM, Chris Lewis <clewis@american.edu> wrote:

> Occasionally I hear from filmmaker's asking about how to get their
> films distributed. I've heard from three in the past month. I always
> suggest festivals as one of the best ways to get noticed and I give
> them the names of the distributors I use but I really don't know how a
> lot of titles make their way to distributors. If one or more of you
> are willing to lend some advice for these up-and-comers it would be
> greatly appreciated.
>
> --
> Chris Lewis
> Media Librarian
> American University Library
> 202.885.3257
>
> Please think twice before printing this e-mail. Remember, paper comes
> from trees.
>
> And Soylent Green? Well, you should know where that comes from.
>
> VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues
> relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control,
> preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and
> related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective
> working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication
> between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and
> distributors.
>

-- 
Best,
Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video/Milliarium Zero
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: 201-767-3117
Fax: 201-767-3035
email: milefilms@gmail.com
www.milestonefilms.com
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VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Mon Dec 7 10:35:19 2009

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