Sunday, March 01, 2009

MicroFilmmaker Magazine, Distribution and Road stuff

March 1, 2009

I have been interviewed in Micro Filmmaker Magazine and they put it in the new issue. Check out the interview online at, While you’re there check out some of the other articles. It’s a great magazine as far as I’m concerned.

Moses and I are on the road, we were just in St Louis at Webster University and I did a workshop at the MOMMA meeting in Columbia, MO and got to see some old friends and hang out at True/False, one of my favorite film festivals. No it’s off to Baylor University and then UT Arlington and SMU before heading back to the Kansas City area.

I have been talking a lot to filmmakers about self-distribution and I am amazed that so many filmmakers are unaware how to read a contract, or what questions to ask if a distributor is interested in your movie. I am going to reprint part of a blog I wrote last year detailing a conversation I had with an online distributor.

If you read this before, you should probably read it again to remind yourself that you might not necessarily sign with some distributors.

Here it is again…

I was talking recently with an on-line distributor; they were inquiring about my films and were they available. They wanted a non-exclusive contract (which is the only deal I will ever do), for internet distribution they would be marketing just DVDs and they promised me 70% of all sales. I downloaded a contract and asked them why my contract said I would get 33% of the gross and not 70%? They apologized and sent me the new contract which was for 70% of the net.

(If you don’t know the difference between gross and net, look it up, or have someone else handle your negotiations. With gross you might see some money, with net you probably won’t.)

We talked for awhile and when I asked for the email addresses of some of the other filmmakers who distribute through them (so I could see if they were happy); I was told that they don’t give out that information. In my experience most legitimate distributors are happy to give you names and contact info from their other filmmakers. It’s like asking for a reference, if other people speak well of you the odds are the prospective filmmaker will have a better feeling when it comes to signing the rights over.

Not only could I not get other filmmakers info, but when I asked about their use of sub-distributors for things like ipods, cell phones, web streaming, etc, and what kind of deals they cut with subs (because that will effect how much is left over to pay my 70% or 33% whichever I take), once again I was told that was information they don’t give out…

Are these people serious?

So I couldn’t get any information about how these guys do business, and how that would affect my take of any money my movie makes. So I finally asked the big question.

Why should I sign with you and put my films up on your site?

I was told about all of the traffic they get, I would have my own web page, the people who run the site go to places like Sundance and promote their films and look for others to add. I would have a much bigger reach as far as potential audience if I went with them. My page would be listed on all sorts of other web sites like Amazon, and others.

So I asked them about promotion. What kind of promotion do they do, and what places would they take my movie to?

I was told that the films and filmmakers, who do the best on their site, are the ones that go out and do a lot of self-promotion. The ones that really get their film out in to the marketplace. They submit it to all sorts of film festivals, send it to publications, and constantly get the word out about their movie. “That’s the filmmakers who do well on our site.”

So if filmmakers are going to promote the hell out of their films, and do most of the work themselves, why would they want to be on a site that does nothing but make a master of their DVD, splash their logo all over it, take a good sized percentage to put YOUR film up on their web site, and then sit back and wait while you do all of the hustling. Which part of this doesn’t sound good to filmmakers?

There are too many distributors out there that are doing this same thing. You are doing all of the work, they’re putting their name and logo on it, and then are waiting for you to sell it for them.

I think one of the reasons they wouldn’t let me talk to any of their filmmakers is probably because they had no success stories. They probably don’t have anyone who is making money.

There is nothing that these people are doing for you that you couldn’t be doing for yourself. And keeping a larger share of the money your films make. There are good distributors out there who will work with you, the key is finding them.

When you talk with a distributor you need to find out what they are going to do for you.

AF Note. Film Baby is one of my tour sponsors and what I like about them is that they don’t promise me anything. I do the promotion, they did build a page for me for a small fee, and they take a reasonable cut to fill orders. My exposure is greater on their website and they cut checks on a weekly basis when your films sell. Check them out.

And now on to other stuff.

If you want Moses and I to come to your college, university, media art center, high school, theater or even to your house for dinner send me a note,

There is a rumor that my work books should be ready for downloading soon, and there are going to be new Angry Filmmaker T-shirts available. These will piss off anyone, thanks to Jeff Pollard. I’ll let you know when they’re ready.

Please check out my internet specials, hopefully you’ll find something you like. (, as if you didn’t know)

Don’t forget to check out my tour sponsors, Show Biz Software, (, Film Baby (, Pollard Design (, Zoom Studio (, The Indy Film Co-op ( and Cheezy Flicks ( All great people, all great companies.

If you haven’t checked out their sites and their services, you better.

The first two Workshop DVDs are selling well. You can find them at,, and at

As always, feel free to link to my site and you can subscribe to my blog. So what are you waiting for?

Talk later.



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